The Greer Meister Group

Choosing a School

It’s February, which means NYC private school acceptance notifications are going out for the upcoming academic year. After spending months in the application process, you’ll have just a few days to decide among the spots you’re offered.

How can you be sure that you’re making the best choice for your child?

Let’s start by answering four questions:

Why am I sending my child to school?

This is a question that seems basic but is actually complex. Before I became a mom or an educator, I would have shrugged and said something like, “to get an education.” But what does that really mean for your family?

One parent might answer: “I’m sending my child to school to learn to collaborate well with peers who have a mixture of strengths.” Another parent might answer: “I’m sending my child to school to become fluent in a language that we don’t speak at home.” The most common answers usually involve socialization, leadership, teamwork, instruction in subjects outside of parents’ expertise, and providing a pathway to a future school that the family considers desirable.

The most important answer is the one that is honest and truthful for your family. Your answer to this first question will have nuances specific to your family and will guide your choice of school for your child.

What are three qualities that I want most for my child when s/he is an adult?

When I was pregnant with my son, my husband and I thought a lot about this question. Ultimately, we chose motivation, resilience, and compassion. We remain mindful of prioritizing those qualities when we make important decisions about our son’s education. Supporting his growth in those specific areas helps structure our choices.

If the qualities that you chose were leadership, influence, and stamina, you would select a very different school for your child than a parent who chose patience, creativity, and composure.

What is the best learning environment for my child?

Not every child thrives in the same type of environment.

Is your child easily distracted? A school with an open layout may not be the ideal fit. Does your child thrive when given the opportunity to move outside of the classroom? There are schools where off-site learning goes far beyond monthly field trips. Does your child have a language-based learning difference and learn best when texts are made available in audio format? There are schools that make those resources a priority.

Some children excel with clear expectations, structure, memorization, and standardized testing, and others excel in environments that provide little structure, focus on creative exploration, and give open-ended assignments. Understanding your child’s ideal learning environment will be a key factor in choosing a school.

What is the logistical impact on our family?

Once you’ve answered the conceptual questions, it’s time to assess logistics.

Are you willing to go through the application process again in the future, or do you want to choose a school that continues through 12th grade? How long of a commute is reasonable to expect of your child? Is it realistic to manage drop-offs and pick-ups in a neighborhood far from siblings’ schools, your home, or your office? Is financial aid a factor in your decision? Will the school schedule allow your child to continue with existing extracurricular commitments? (This consideration is particularly important for athletes on regional sports teams, young performing artists, and other kids with extracurricular commitments not organized by their schools.)

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Remember: there are no “right” or “wrong” answers to any of these questions. Frank answers that offer insight into your child and family will direct you to the best choice of school for your child.

Answering these questions begins to reveal your family’s unique considerations. If you would like to discuss your specific considerations in more detail, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!