Five steps to choosing the perfect school

The ultimate starter guide to finding your ideal private school

Find a list of schools

Searching for the right school is not a sprint; it’s a marathon, requiring committed preparation. Luckily, parents are not alone. Follow this guide, step by step. And if the road gets rocky, keep your eye on the finish line—your child’s future.


Video: How to Choose a Private School

 

 

1. Carefully consider your needs

While finding the right house is all about location, location, location, when it comes to private schools, the motto is fit, fit, fit. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. What makes a school perfect for your neighbour’s child doesn’t necessarily make it the right choice for yours. Your family’s circumstances, the individual strengths and needs of your child, your education philosophy and vision will all contribute to your choice of schools.

Private and independent schools are numerous and diverse. There are schools with excellent academic and athletic programs. Some schools follow a distinct education philosophy, such as Montessori, or serve a particular religious community. There are arts-based schools, all-boys schools, boarding schools, special needspreschools, daycare …and the list goes on.

So before you start flipping through attractive brochures or browsing websites, take the time to consider, as a family, what it is you are looking for in a school and why.

Top considerations

Write down your basic must-haves in one column of a page. In a second column, add your wish list—the points that are not essential, but would be a bonus to find. Schools with an outstanding music program, a technological focus or strong outdoor education component are all out there. It’s up to you to determine and rank your priorities.

Keep your list and refer back to it throughout the search process. Remember, the bells and whistles may be nice to have, but don’t lose sight of your priorities. Keep these in mind and they will guide you to the right fit.

2. Do your initial homework

This can’t be said enough: Do your homework. Having a good base of information and knowledge about the private school landscape will help you make a choice that is right for you and your child. Remember to involve your child in the school search process as much as you can.

Quick tips

Now that you’ve gathered some information, it’s time to make good use of it to help you find the best fit for your child.

3. Visit a shortlist of schools

Most schools readily welcome visiting parents, so pick up the telephone and arrange a tour. A first-hand look is essential to get a personal sense of whether it’s a place you can see sending your child. But don’t rely on your first impression—plan more than one visit. Return with your child if you like what you see. Remember to ask a lot of questions; admissions officers anticipate and welcome them. And it’s a good idea to bring a written checklist along with you.

Ask schools about:

Download our printable version of this checklist.

Ask schools to provide you with:

阅读中文版本: 五步驟帶您選擇最合適的學校

4. Make a winning application to a few different schools

You now have your first-hand knowledge. Narrow down your choices, using your priority list as a guide. It’s time to apply to schools of your choice. It’s best not to limit yourself to submitting an application to just one “perfect” school. Chances are there are a number of schools that could be an appropriate fit for your child.

Points to remember

What schools are looking for

5. Stay grounded while awaiting results

The finish line is in sight. You’ve submitted your applications and are waiting to be notified about acceptance. Still, there are a few points that every parent should keep in mind:

Words of wisdom

Once you have accepted a school, have confidence in your choice. Make the most of the fact that your family is now part of a unique school environment. You have succeeded in making one of the most important decisions in your child’s life and an investment in his or her future. That alone is worth more than a gold medal victory!
 

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 focussocial tendenciesactivity level, academic interests (such as art and STEM), and other attributes (such as giftednessspecial needslearning 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 fitmore academic challengesocial strugglesacademic strugglesintensive learning interestsuniversity preparation, and special needs.).


Further reading

Advertisement
Find Private Schools:

In the spotlight:


Latest Articles

Well-being and belonging at Trinity College School  
Focusing on more than just academics (November 28, 2022)

Focusing on affordability in private education  
Trinity College School’s financial assistance program (November 8, 2022)

Questions to ask high schools  
Some key questions to ask when you’re choosing a high school (August 24, 2022)

Questions to ask elementary schools  
Some key questions to ask when you’re choosing an elementary or primary school for your child (August 24, 2022)

The Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators  
Promoting standards of excellence in Montessori education (August 22, 2022)

By logging in or creating an account, you agree to Our Kids' Terms and Conditions. Information presented on this page may be paid advertising provided by the advertisers [schools/camps/programs] and is not warranted or guaranteed by OurKids.net or its associated websites. By using this website, creating or logging into an Our Kids account, you agree to Our Kids' Terms and Conditions. Please also see our Privacy Policy. Our Kids ™ © 2022 All right reserved.