Wait – isn’t homework something that many schools are reducing, or moving away from?  It’s true, the no-homework policy of a second-grade teacher in Texas went viral recently, earning praise from parents across the country who lament the heavy workload often assigned to young students (TIME Magazine, August 2016).   But what if the assignment is choosing the right school for your family?  Is homework the only thing you should consider?

Research Your Options: When considering schools, it makes sense to do your ‘homework’ – but where do you begin?  Understanding the “assignment” and treating it just like a research project is a great approach.

Develop your Objectives: What are the key values or attributes that are important to you in choosing a school; whether it’s Pre-school, Kindergarten, or Elementary?  Do you understand the different teaching philosophies that are unique to each school?  Putting together a list of your values and touring schools with a prepared list of questions is a great place to start.  

Don’t be shy, ASK! Be sure to include several schools in your research; just like in the scientific method, your results are only as good as your data – so be thorough with your observations, and consider multiple sources.  

  • In addition to a personal tour, what do others in the community have to say?  Does their environment match what they portray online and in their brochures?  
  • What is their policy on homework, recess, grading/evaluations, testing, discipline?  
  • Do they actively incorporate social and/or cultural traditions that are important to you?  
  • What level of parent involvement is expected/welcomed?  
  • Is their academic curriculum traditional or more cutting edge/experiential?  How do they approach technology?

Compare and Evaluate: Now that you’ve learned firsthand about the choices you have, you will have a pile of literature – and likely a good amount of “gut feelings.”  Bring together your information and compare it to your objectives.  A good old-fashioned “pros and cons” list is an easy way to quickly identify where each school aligns with your values.  Now that you’ve done your homework, the answer is easy!