Smart School Selection Strategy – Creating a Personalized School Scorecard to Build Strong Kids
Smart School Choice builds Strong Kids
Developing a selection scorecard to place your student in the best school to meet their needs
Recently I had dinner with my friends Bill and Nancy Palmer and the subject of school choice came up; mostly because at one time they had each of their five children in five different schools. If you think that schedule sounds crazy, then you’ve never met the five exceptional young adults they raised who have launched successfully out into the world. It was extremely stressful at times to keep things organized but they were committed to building strong kids and were creative enough to always find options to help each child grow in strength and confidence. How did they do it? Simple, they picked the educational experiences that were the best fit for each of their children at each stage of life in spite of of convenience.
Many times parents are afraid of school change, or don’t realize they have so many choices obtainable to them in guiding their kids toward their strength zone. First let’s look at what makes a ‘good’ school truly ‘good.’ Since it’s not really one thing it’s a combination of many factors that when combined together can create a learning ecosystem which can brings out the best in your child. Here are some of the most shared elements to consider when you begin the time of action of selecting a school to bring out the best in your son or daughter.
-meaningful factors of a ‘good’ school:
Strong parental involvement, as the old saying goes, a school is only as strong as the level of parental sustain that it receives. Clear community sustain, especially from elected officials. Focused school leaders, especially in administrative roles. Well structured academic programs to cover different learning styles. Committed and caring teachers focused on the needs of their students. A safe and obtain learning experience. Budgets that allow for additional-curricular activities to positively impact multiple areas of development, such as the arts, music, journalism, ROTC, languages and sports. Guidance departments focused on a personalized plan to help students unprotected to who ‘think outside the box’. Smart classrooms with access to current and cutting edge computer and Internet technology. A learning experience that honors your families faith and values, instead of attacking or shaming your child for holding onto a strong system of faith.
Of course any parent would want the best for their children, but it’s been my experience that the information ‘best’ truly floats on many variables by the different stages of childhood. So, since ‘best’ isn’t truly a single school campus this opens the door to analyze many experiences that often accelerate the learning ecosystem for the kids who live at your house.
This can only happen when you begin to see that the main goal is to find out what needs your the child is facing to then select the school choice that can guide them to a position of greater strength. This just going along with in any case may have worked for your child last year. Remember, a child’s maturity changes year to year, and for many kids this method their academic choices should change with it.
– Chart to solve the confusion of discovering the best schools
Begin to make smart school choices to help your child be their best by building a chart to literally ‘score’ the school options obtainable to your child on a legal pad, running across the top of the page. You should include every option you can think of to do a complete examination of what is obtainable to your child.
already if you only think that you have one option, really sit down to consider the school choices obtainable to your child in the coming school year. This way you will be able to truly track the metrics to see a visual number at the bottom of the page to see what each school choice brings to the table in best meeting the needs of your son or daughter at any stage of their educational development.
Here’s a sample of how to structure across the top of the page, except it’s more personal and more powerful if you truly place the name of each of the schools you are considering in that particular column, (for example list out the choices facing your child, like: Orange County High, Mountain Prep, Holy Family, The Community School, Math Magnet Prep, Military Leadership Academy or an online virtual school)
Smart School Options:
Public- College Prep- Christian- HomeSchool- Charter- Boarding-Private- Magnet-Military- Online or Virtual School and so on
Once you have produced a list across the page of every obtainable option you have obtainable to meet the needs of your child, then it’s time to add the list of variables, (preferably in order of importance to you in meeting the rare needs of your child), to rank or score each school choice against your own personal standard of what’s most valuable to bring out the best in your son or daughter. Create this list on the left margin of your legal pad and include factors like the following.
Smart School Features includes a combination of major factors like:
Safety, Academics, Great Teachers, Strong leaders, Involved parents, PTA-PTF groups, Location, Transportation, Costs or tuition, Friends/peers, Fits child’s personality, Fits career goals, Fits academic goals, School size, Well equipped classrooms, Class size to teacher ratio, Campus well maintained, Clean school facilities, Hot lunches and cafeteria, Wide range of sports, After school activities, Tutoring- academic help, Music, choirs, band, Fine arts and drama, Bible, world view or faith building classes, After school activities or child care, Clubs, FCA, DECA, OJT, and so on for social connection, School life- socials and proms, Trips- rare learning experiences, SAT or ACT prep classes, Strong guidance department, Tuition assistance programs, Partnerships with community groups (Boys & Girls Clubs, Scouting, etc), Partnerships with business groups to develop early career success, (like Junior Achievement, career training)
TOTALS of all of your comparisons of chief values measured against each school option – A stronger score discloses a stronger school choice to meet the needs of your child.
Once you have developed your as many categories as fit the rare needs of your child, then it’s time to go back and score each school at the top of the page against your specific priorities listed along the left column on a numerical extent of 10, (best) down to 5 (average) then on down to 1 (terrible).
Be honest and don’t play favorites as you really consider the needs of the students in your family, since this course of action works from selecting a pre-school all the way to college. Leave any areas blank that are unknown to you, however since this will greatly reduce the score for that particular school it indicates you need to do more research to create a fair examination on some of the schools you may have chosen for your child.
Another technique you can use is to do a detailed web search about each school, however, I recommend that you take your child with you to preview new schools with you in person. Walk the campus, talk to teachers or other students, or if possible visit the school when it’s in session and ‘shadow’ a great number student throughout the day to see what the school culture is really like first hand.
This school choice course of action can be repeated every year as needed based on the needs of your son or daughter. Add in the maturity level of your child to complete the time of action of selecting what’s best by identifying where you believe your student to be at during this stage of their academic career.
Child (up to age 13) – Dependent and Irresponsible
Teen (13-19) – Developing, Maturing and Growing
Young Adult (20-25) – Independent and Responsible
It is wise to consider the maturity level of your child since some school settings will require a higher level of responsibility or independent decision making. Once you have identified the maturity level then just factor in the scores from your school choice chart to thin down your search to find the best school. Remember, the higher the score, the more likely that it’s a better fit to help your student to reach their best during this or any school year.
Strong students often are able to build strong lives, so the time you take now to guide your children into the best direction, (already if it method making the sacrifice of car-pooling different kids in different directions for several years) will rule to strong and confident young adults for a lifetime, and that’s an excellent trade.
By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach