Decision-Making for School Placement
About a year ago, my daughter and son-in-law were getting ready to choose a preschool for their daughter, who was not even three at the time. There were several alternatives, as well as pressure to get into a preschool before all were fully enrolled. One school even required that my granddaughter come and visit the school without her parents to see if it would be a good fit for one of the two remaining spots. This was hard to believe given her age.
One important decision at the end of a school year is school placement for the following year. The following steps should be considered:
- Accurately assess your child’s skill set, academically, socially and emotionally.
- Check with your child’s current teacher.
- The teacher can provide valuable input through a behavioral rating scale, at a teacher conference, or with anecdotal evidence.
- At the parent-teacher conference, ask questions about your child’s performance at the school that include:
- How are the child’s verbal, gross motor, fine motor and social skills relative to their classmates?
- Does your child prefer to play alone?
- Is your child resistant to participating in certain activities such as circle time while at school?
- Is your child younger than others and therefore likely to benefit from an additional year of preschool?
A child who prefers structure will benefit from a smaller, quieter and more predictable environment. A child who has a lot of energy and enjoys sports might do better in a less academic and more physically active placement.
- Consider your own personal needs.
- With so many demands from work and home, it is important to keep things simple.
- Advantages of a neighborhood school include reduced driving and time commitments. A neighborhood school leads to a greater likelihood of forming a carpool.
- Parents who are relaxed are more available to engage in their child’s current interests, to visit or volunteer at school, and to help build a community with other children and parents.
- Seek input from outside professionals.
- Consult your child’s pediatrician if you or the current teacher suspect something is out of the norm such as a behavioral issue.
- Focus your attention to pinpoint your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Identify resources for additional support.
- Advocate for your child.
- You and your spouse know your child better than anyone else.
- Advocate for collecting as much information as you can to make an informed placement decision.
- Support services can be added as priorities may shift. It is important to be creative and resourceful to meet your child’s needs.
- Mine the treasures that your child will bring into your lives.
- Do your homework.
- Visit the school with your child.
- Talk to parents of other students at the school.
- Factor in the cost of a school as not all schools cost the same.
- Prioritize what is most important to you and your child, even as you recognize that no decision can be perfect.
Happy decision-making for school placement!
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