Tips on Choosing High School for Your Child
A good school allows the child to not just excel academically, but also motivates him/her to explore other interests. This leads to the all-round development of the child which enables him/her to succeed in life. With top colleges in the country receiving a record numbers of applications each year and with the eligibility criteria ramped up, it is important for parents to choose a high school that ensures quality education that opens avenues for further academic and personal growth of the child.
Instead of choosing a neighborhood school or one of repute, select a high school that allows a child to grow intellectually and personally. It is not important to find the best school in the world, but rather find one that will support and enhance your child’s interests and passion. In this Buzzle article, we provide some simple tips on how to choose a good high school for your child that will help him or her excel in life.
Shortlisting a High School: Things to Consider
Public School Vs. Private School
Public School Vs. Private School
The age-old debate about public and private schools leaves many parents confused. Is it better to opt for a local public school or choose an exclusive private school with a hefty tuition fee? Public schools administered by local, state, or national governments offer free education. They are often criticized for a high pupil-teacher ratio and bureaucratic style of functioning. However, these schools do have their own set of advantages like a diverse student population, qualified teachers, and provision of programs for children with special needs.
Private schools, also known as independent schools, are funded in whole by students’ tuition fees. Although these schools charge quite a hefty amount, they do have the advantage of smaller classes, less bureaucracy, and more parent involvement. This does not mean that just because you pay more at a private school, the education is better.
A good public school may be a better match for your child. You need to look beneath the label of ‘public’ or ‘private’ to choose a school that is a right for your kid. Apart from public and private schools, there are charter schools, religious schools, and special performing arts schools.
Academic Record and Reputation of the School
This is probably the first thing that parents consider while choosing a school for their child. All parents want their child to excel academically. Therefore, academic performance of the school and its overall reputation is one of the major deciding factors when choosing a high school.
If the students of a school consistently perform well in tests and examinations, it is a good indicator of the academic quality of the school. You can check how students at a school perform as compared to others, using statistics provided by The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the State Department of Education.
Check the Number of Students
The student-teacher ratio in a class and the overall number of students in a school is extremely important.
One of the reasons why many parents prefer a private school is because of the small class sizes. A ratio of fifteen children per teacher ensures that the child gets adequate personal attention. However, it is important to consider that there is no set ratio for every student. While some students do well in a smaller environment with personal attention, others thrive in larger schools with a wide variety of classes and activities.
Consider a School with Good Teachers
The importance of good teachers cannot be overstated. The high school curriculum is structured around core academics. This is vital as it forms the basis of future college education. Apart from wide array of subjects like physics and calculus, high school students begin to study foreign languages. They also have greater flexibility with electives such as art. Considering the diverse topics and subjects being taught, it is imperative that the teachers be experts of the subjects that they teach.
Along with appropriate educational qualification, teachers should also possess necessary license and certification for teaching that is provided by an accredited teacher’s training program such as National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). If the school offers special courses, then there should be specialist staff such as music or art teachers who have the necessary training and skill to teach the subject.
Check the Available Courses
If the child is interested in a special subject, you need to look for schools that offer that course. Ideally, a good high school should have a balanced, comprehensive curriculum. In addition to this, there are many schools that also offer specialized classes like astronomy, music, and computing. You also need to consider additional facilities at the school, like libraries or sports facilities.
Check the Extracurricular Activities on Offer
Extracurricular activities and events promote socialization, raise self-esteem, and allow the child to explore his/her varied interests. Choose a school that offers a broad range of activities that complement and are an extension of the academic program. Performing arts, competitive sports, and other after-school activities help in the development of leadership and additional skills in children.
Look for Maintenance and Hygiene
There are many schools that offer tours and host open-house events. Although you might not get to spend time in a class, you can verify if the school maintains cleanliness, hygiene, and offers a good environment. It is also important to consider the area around the school, and ensure that it is safe for the child. Check the playground equipment to see if it is safe and well-maintained.
Consider the Distance
It is important to consider the distance of the school from home. Can the child go to school without being parent-driven? Is it easy to go for after-school activities? A school which is excellent but is too far away from home can be frustrating for parents as well as children who have to spend a lot of time traveling.
Involve the Child
It is vital to consider a teenager’s needs when choosing a high school for him or her. Involve the child actively in the selection process. Ask him/her about his/her interests and goals so that you can choose a school that is aligned with these interests and goals. Some teens would want to go to the same school as their friends. As a parent, you need to consider these things as well.
Shortlisting a High School: What to Do
➾ Consider all possibilities when choosing the high school.
➾ Research school websites and blogs.
➾ Visit the school to know more about the school’s environment and authorities.
➾ Ask the right questions about the school, the teachers, and the assignments workload.
➾ Consider the administration’s attitude towards parents. If it seems inappropriate, then it will definitely not improve once the child is enrolled in the school
➾ Know when and how to enroll your child.
➾ Always have a backup plan in case the child does not get admission in his/her preferred school.
➾ Watch your child’s reaction to the school, and trust your instincts.
The four years of high school are extremely important for a child. Make a list of all the high schools, and then narrow down the options based on the good and not-so-good elements of the school. Contact all the favored schools, and preferably visit them. Choose the right school by asking the right questions and researching well. Consider all your options and make an informed decision.