Dr. Rich Patterson

Choosing A School for Your Child: What’s Important

With all of the choices for schools today, it can be overwhelming to decide what school is right for your child.  As an educator, I was frequently asked about this school or by parents.  I have listed a few points to consider when considering a school. The following is by no means a complete list, but it will get you started towards deciding along with some of your preferences.  In no particular order they are:

  1.  Look at the school for the long term.  If it is elementary, look at all the grades and see your child attending for all six years, including Kindergarten.
  2. Go to your state department of education’s website and look up the school.  Check the disciplinary numbers, i.e., suspensions, etc.  Check their test scores in the primary four:  Math, English, Science, and Social Studies (if available).  Where are their weak scores?  What grade level seems to take a dip in scores?
  3. Talk with parents who attend the school and find out what they feel are the school’s strengths and weaknesses.
  4. If possible, visit the school during the summer and briefly meet the Principal and some of the school administration.
  5. What extra-curricular activities are available at the school?  What interests does your child have, and do they support that?  What interests could they pick up by being a member of this school?
  6. How many students attend the school?  Is that number okay with you as a parent?  What plan does the school have?  i.e., a parochial school will teach certain beliefs, some charter schools teach certain beliefs, or may require a uniform.  Are these things okay with you as a parent?

These are just a few of the considerations as we move quickly toward another school year.  Shopping right now is critical because the school administration is returning to work and planning their school year.

Another consideration is Public schools or Charter schools.  I have a series on Charter Schools worth reading; start here, Charter School or Public School? – Dr. Rich Patterson (

Great Schools has a  post on Choosing a school: an overview that you should read next, Choosing a school: an overview | Parenting (

Let me know some of your thoughts.

Yours for Better Parenting,