Q: What are some of the factors to consider when choosing a school?
A: The teachers are so important. What happens in the public schools, if you're lucky, you have a different teacher every year, if not every six months. Some, like I remember when we were picking schools for our kids, we really looked at who the teachers were, and some private schools, you have the same teacher for three or four years, so you really need to know who that teacher's going to be.
I would say look for a school that encourages adaptability, flexibility, for the unpredictable world that they're going to grow into, because we don't know what that world's going to be like. I think that would be something I would recommend. I can't help thinking about the special need of ADHD, because it can be both a gift and a challenge. How flexible is this school in dealing with kids who are different in these kinds of ways, because this can profoundly affect the future development of these kids?
Q: Are there certain types of early learning perspectives that you think are more effective?
A: For the preschool child, I would say a school that encourages adaptability and flexibility for the unpredictable world that they're going to grow into, because we don't know what that world's going to be like. You also want an environment that’s flexible in dealing with children that have different personalities and learning styles.
Q: In searching for a school, is it better to focus on accommodating your child’s weaknesses or developing their strengths?
A: I have a strong opinion about that. My general idea is that you need to find a school that fits your kid, and that it's more important to nurture strengths, but at the same time make sure the weaknesses are looked after in a way that doesn't hurt the kid.
Q: Is there a common mistake parents make in the school-choice process?
A: You should never select a school for life anymore. Your child will change over time: his or her learning needs and styles, social needs, personality, and more. Ideally, a learning environment will meet your child’s social, emotional, and academic needs. Since these evolve over the years, you may need to consider making changes to his or her educational environment or switching schools at various points.
Child-specific advice on school choice
For child-specific insights on choosing a school, read our guide. We explore how school choices crucially depend on kids' unique traits, such as their mental and academic focus, social tendencies, activity level, academic interests (such as art and STEM), and other attributes (such as giftedness, special needs, learning disabilities, and social issues).
To get school-choice advice customized to your child's unique traits, create a child profile through your user account and read our seven ways to choose a school based on your child's needs (i.e., overall fit, more academic challenge, social struggles, academic struggles, intensive learning interests, university preparation, and special needs.).
Read our other education expert choosing interviews: Janyce Lastman, Ann and Karen Wolff, Elaine Danson, Una Malcolm, Ruth Rumack, Joanne Foster, Jane Kristoffy