“Which School is Best for My Kid?” 12 Tips for Smart School Selection     Next to picking your kid’s name, choosing your child’s school is high up on the list of stressful parenting choices. Every parent wants the best for their kid, and a child’s schooling has life-long impacts on their intellectual, social, and emotional development. What makes a school great for one kid doesn’t work for the next, and with so many options, parents can feel lost in selecting the best school for their child’s needs.    So what factors  really  matter in picking the perfect school? Ask these 11 questions when determining which school is best for your kid:     1. Is it test-obsessed?      Children learn best when they have a strong sense of autonomy, meaning they feel ownership over what they’re learning. Having opportunities to explore, take initiative, and problem-solve are important for building autonomy. While all schools aim for students to do well on standardized tests, schools that focus on “teaching to tests” can have fewer outlets for creativity and hands-on learning. Ask the faculty how they balance covering the curriculum while providing student-led activities.     2. Will it meet my kid’s needs?      If your child is gifted or has learning differences such as   ADHD  , autism, or   dyslexia  , it’s important to learn what   accommodations   are available to support their success. Do they need a highly structured environment, more individual attention, or extra time for assignments? Talk to the school’s faculty about your child’s specific needs to ensure they’re experienced and equipped in meeting them.   Need help securing accommodations for your child?       

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      3. Is their curriculum first-class?     The quality of your child’s curriculum can have a tremendous impact on their academic achievement. A great curriculum has a proven track record in empowering students to master core subjects. Ask your school which curriculum they use for each subject and get to googling; a quick internet search can show you a curriculum’s ratings on text quality, knowledge building, usability, and alignment to academic standards.      4. Do their scores measure up?     School ratings never tell the whole story, so try not to make snap judgements based on one overall score. However, digging deeper into a school’s score card can give you some valuable info. Look for these 3 measures:        Are there signs of improvement?   Sometimes schools have a high proportion of disadvantaged students, bringing test scores down regardless of the school’s quality. Look for the  student progress rating  to get a better idea of how well kids are learning rather than test scores alone.     How does the school perform in various subjects?   While other schools might have a higher overall rating, you may find that a school with a lower overall score has higher ratings in the subject(s) you care most about.     How do kids like yours do?  School ratings break down performance scores by race, sex, special needs, and socioeconomic status. Dig into these details to determine how kids most similar to yours are doing at the school. It’s also helpful to ask other parents and neighbors what their experiences have been to get an inside scoop of the school’s strengths and weaknesses.      5. Does it empower my kid’s passion?     Does your child have strong inclinations toward math, science, music, art, or languages? Ask the school about their approach to your child’s favorite subject. You may also want to investigate if there are any magnet or private schools in your area that focus more heavily on the subject your child is drawn to.     For more tips on supporting your child’s passions, click here      6. Is it public or private?      Whether public or private is best is a long-heated debate without a clear-cut answer. There are several pros and cons to each school type that you should research, but here are a few of the major ones:       






      7. What resources are available?   When evaluating a potential school, pay attention to the resources the school has to stimulate your child’s learning. Desirable resources include:    An ample library    Up to date technology    Musical instruments    Art supplies    Play equipment    Accessibility for disabled students    A School Nurse on duty    A   School Psychologist   for mental health needs      8. Are there high safety standards?   You’ll feel better about sending your kids to school each day if you’re confident in the school’s safety measures. Ask the school to explain their protocols in the areas of:   Drug, alcohol, and tobacco prevention    Violence, bullying, harassment    Weapons on campus    Police presence and school lockdown procedures    Drills and emergency plans    Notification of parents in event of an emergency       9. Do they support EQ?   In addition to academic standards, keep your standards high in the type of emotional support you want your child to receive. Does the school offer workshops on character building and emotional health? Are there clubs or programs offered to help your child make friends? How do they handle discipline and reinforce good behavior? Consider whether you agree with their approach in supporting healthy emotional growth.    Not sure what an emotionally healthy classroom looks like? Click here       10. Is it a logistical nightmare?     Sometimes your dream school isn’t in your district or your budget, and it’s important to evaluate whether the pros of attending the school outweigh the sacrifices you’ll have to make. Remember that long commutes and hefty tuitions can mean sacrificing family time and other enriching activities. While there’s nothing wrong with going out of your way for a great education, make sure to choose a school that isn’t too disruptive to your family life.    11. What’s my gut telling me?   The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to where your kid should go. You may walk into a school that everyone else raves about, but just get an uneasy vibe that tells you it’s not a fit for your kid. You know your child’s personality, strengths, and challenges better than anyone, and that knowledge will guide your instincts in helping you make the best choice.    12. Should I get a second opinion?   Choosing your child’s school is tough and weighing the pros and cons of each option can feel overwhelming. Asking other parents their opinions can be helpful, but if you’d also like professional support in evaluating your child’s options, a specialist in Educational Psychology can guide you in coming to a confident decision.      
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
       References:   American Psychological Association (2019). Increasing Student Success Through Instruction in Self-Determination.  American Psychological Association . Retrieved from  American Psychological Association (2019). Transitions to School: What Helps Children Succeed?  American Psychological Association  Retrieved from  Four Steps to Selecting a School for Your Child.  Reading Rockets , 7 Nov. 2013, (2019). Facts (and fiction) about school test scores. Retrieved from  Kane, T.J., Owens, A.M., Marinell, W.H., Thal, D.R.C., Staiger, D.O. (2016). Teaching Higher: Educator’s Perspectives on Common Core Implementation.  Harvard University Center for Education Policy Research.  Retrieved from  Mathews, Jay (2003). What to Look for in a Good School.  The Washington Post,  WP Company, Retrieved from  National Assessment of Educational Progress (2015). School Composition and the Black-White Achievement Gap.  U.S. Department of Education.  Retrieved from:  Private School vs. Public School Breakdown (2016).  Niche . Retrieved from   Siegel-Hawley, G. (2012). How Non-Minority Students Also Benefit From Racially Diverse Schools. Research Brief.  The National Coalition on School Diversity.  Retrieved from  Shinn. M.M. (2018). ADHD or Just Kids Being Kids?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from   Shinn. M.M. (2018). I Can’t Spell Dyslexia – Do I Have It?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from    Shinn. M.M. (2018). School’s Out – Should I Get My Kid Tested?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from    Shinn. M.M. (2018). 7 Strategies for Fostering a Growth Mindset in Your Child.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from    Shinn. M.M. (2018). 8 Tips to Create a Mentally Healthy Classroom.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from      How to Cite This Blog Article:    Shinn. M.M. (2019). Which School is Best for My Kid? 11 Tips for Smart School Selection.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from

“Which School is Best for My Kid?” 12 Tips for Smart School Selection

Public schools, private schools, charters, oh my! With so many options, picking the best school for your kid can feel overwhelming. Check out this week’s blog for our top 10 tips on smart school selection.