How to Choose a School

by | News, Parent Resources

There are many considerations to examine

How to choose a school for your child can be a difficult and emotional process, yet it is one of the most important decisions you will make. Most children spend over 15,000 hours in school from grades K-12. Parents can have a have a huge effect on their child’s education by choosing the best school for them. Families in Calgary are fortunate to have a large variety of schools to choose from for their children. In Calgary there are two public school systems, over fifty private schools and six charter schools. Each school offers unique programs that can nurture a student’s learning and foster success. When choosing a school for your child, keep in mind that there is no single school that is right for all students. The task of choosing can be overwhelming due to the large variety of educational options in Calgary. It is important to look at a few aspects to help narrow your choices:

  1. Identify your child’s educational needs. Does your child have special learning needs and require an Independent Program Plan (IPP)? Is your child academically strong and in need of program enrichment? You will also need to determine whether your child will need any modifications or accommodations to meet their educational needs. Your child’s preference of a learning environment will need to be addressed. Some students excel in a class setting with a lot of structure, where others flourish in a non-structured setting. Finally, your child’s preference of teaching style will need to be examined. Some students thrive with a teacher- directed approach. Others perform well with an inquiry-based, hands-on approach. A positive match between the teaching style and a child’s learning style can allow for optimal learning and performance. Once your child’s educational needs are identified, you can then find out which schools can best meet those needs.
  2. Identify your child’s social needs. Does your child prefer to participate in a variety of athletic activities, or do they wish to perform in school plays? Schools offer a variety of athletic and other extra-curricular activities. Some schools provide extensive outdoor education programs or strong music programs. It is important to match your child’s interests with the extra-curricular activities and programs offered at the school.
  3. Consider your family’s values and beliefs. For example, you may want a school that focuses on Christian values. Beliefs and values taught and encouraged at school should compliment those at home.
  4. Evaluate your desire and ability for parent involvement in your child’s school. Some schools expect a large number of parents to volunteer on a regular basis. Schools may have a required amount of fundraising that parents have to participate in annually. Assess the level that you plan to participate in your child’s school and match that with the expectations of schools you are choosing from.
  5. Examine practical matters involving your child’s education. For example, look at the location of the schools. How close are the schools to your home or place of work? Is bussing available for your area of the city? As well, you will need to assess your financial situation and see which schools are within your means.

Write a list of needs and preferences that are imperative for your child’s optimal learning. You may need to prioritize these to help the process. Then, examine the characteristics and programs offered by the schools in Calgary. Again, there is no one school that is best for all children. As a parent you know your child better than anyone else, which puts you in a position to determine the best school for your child.

-Carmelle Watson
For Guide to Schools Magazine