By Guest Blogger Kelen Walker, Canterbury School Admission Director
Looking for the right school for your precious little one can feel like a high-stakes decision as early as the toddler years. The Triad’s wide variety of excellent schools of different types is a blessing, but it also means an overwhelming number of different options to consider.
As a parent of two, I’ve been where you are. As the Admission Director at Canterbury School, I can share some advice to make this process more manageable. While my advice pertains specifically to searching for an independent school such as Canterbury, many of these tips will be helpful for parents looking at public schools, magnet programs and charter schools, as well.
Start early. Ideally, begin looking for schools a year before your child will enroll. Ask yourself whether you plan to enroll your child in “big school” in kindergarten or whether you would want to start them in a PreK program, if available.
Check the website. You can learn a lot about a school’s approach to education from its website. The website also will direct you to any admission events the school is holding and the process for registering or attending those events.
Cast a wide net. Even if you think you have your heart set on a particular school, don’t rule out others. As you get to know a variety of schools, you’ll build a good basis of comparison between them. Additionally, schools are evolving all the time. You may find that what originally drew you to an institution is no longer an option – or find new offerings that catch your interest.
Phone a friend. Talk to your friends about their experiences as parents at each of the schools on your list. Parent recommendations are one of the best ways to find out what makes a school special.
Plan several visits. The earlier you begin the school search process, the more time you have to see the school at different parts of the day or the year and across different events. Group tours, open houses and personal tours – during the school day and on weekends – all offer chances to see and learn different things about the institutions you are considering. For instance, Canterbury’s PreK through 8th grade Open House on Thursday, Nov. 15, will offer a presentation followed by group tours of the lower and middle schools. Parents also can call the school to schedule private tours.
Make a connection. Get to know someone on the admission teams at the schools you’re considering. It’s great to have a personal contact who can answer your questions and guide you through the process. Plus, it’s a terrific way for the school to get to know you and your family.
Don’t let a potential price tag turn you off. Every school that charges tuition is going to try hard to make their education affordable for interested families. Financial assistance goes by a variety of names, including indexed tuition, tuition assistance, financial aid and scholarships. Check with your friendly admission officers about the policies at their schools.
Get social. Follow the schools that interest you on social media. This is a great way to get to know the daily life of their students and parents. Can you see your family there?
Get your child involved. Most schools want to get to know both parents and students. While group tours often are intended for adults, schools also offer open houses, special performances and other events centered around children.
At Canterbury School, we hold two events each winter that welcome prospective students to campus, featuring a Santa Visit in December and Cookies & Cocoa in January. These events give children a chance to check out the classroom, meet the teachers and play with other kids. They can help the child with the transition to school and help you determine if the school is the right fit. Older students often have the opportunity to visit for a whole academic day – a chance for the child to get to know the school and the school to assess the child.
There are so many wonderful schools in the Triad and so many opportunities to find the perfect fit for your child and your family. A deliberate and well-planned approach will help you find the institution that will lay the groundwork for your child’s future academic success.
- Sponsored by Canterbury School, 5400 Old Lake Jeanette Rd, Greensboro, NC 27455