Parent Resource

How to Choose the Right School

A Guide for Parents as They Search for the Perfect-Fit School for their Child

By Gretchen Herbst, Director of Admission and Financial Aid at Congressional School

Whether an independent, parochial, charter or public school, the primary concern should be to what extent the institution can provide the best education for its students. Some questions parents should ask when researching a school are:

  • Is the curriculum appropriate for my child?
  • Will the school challenge my child without overwhelming?
  • Does the school’s mission and philosophy match the needs of my child?
  • Will my child be comfortable in the school’s environment? Will our family?
  • Are there opportunities for my child to pursue special interests?
  • Will my child learn the values that are important to our family?
  • Will the school encourage a strong relationship between me and my child’s teachers?

Other considerations include class sizeteacher-student ratio, and whether the grade range of the school is the right fit. Is a K-12 school the best option? What are benefits of a K-8 school?

When considering academics, parents should study the curriculum, noting if it goes above and beyond the basics. Today, more than ever, it is critical that children are proficient in areas beyond core subject matter.

Early childhood is an opportune time to introduce children to another language, with some schools starting as early as preschool.

Schools should offer students a myriad of opportunities to build skills not only in core subject areas, but also in communication, research, problem solving, critical thinking, global perspectives, and dealing with today’s social and ethical issues.

Other desirable services include before and after school care, transportation, extra-curricular activities and on-site healthcare.

It is important to remember that a superior education can take place in even modest surroundings – buildings are for the parents, the quality of the teachers and an outstanding education is what are important for the children.

Ultimately, parents should have the comfort of knowing that the learning environment in which they have placed their children is one which nurtures their individual growth and allows for a sustained partnership between school and home.