Goodness of Fit When Choosing Schools

Jay M, Greenfeld, Ph.D., C. Psych.

The New Year has begun and we are not going to focus too much on resolutions because it may be most helpful to be setting and achieving goals all throughout the year and not just the opening days of January. However, with the New Year also comes the gradual process of open houses at schools across the province. Many parents have engaged in conversations with me about what schools are best for their children and adolescents as they navigate the years from Kindergarten to Grade Twelve. Although for many, it may not be a conversation, but for others, (both parents and children) it can create a lot of stress, uncertainty, confusion, fear, and regret. The key is to first understand that not all schools are best for all so one school may be a good fit for one child, but not their sibling. Moreover, just because you as a parent attended a certain school when you were younger, based on probability, it has likely been a couple of decades since you were last in class there and thus the school, administration, philosophy and such have changed at that institution. Regardless of what you did during your schooling years, it may not be best for what your child needs. Shift your attention away from what you did, and pay closer attention to what your child needs and wants academically, culturally, socially, and athletically to help them reach their true potential.

For anyone selecting from a variety of schools, outline the most important variables that you attend to when it comes to schooling (e.g., location, teaching, resources, class sizes, extra-curricular activities available) and evaluate which school has the highest score when adding all the most important factors while letting go of any emotional connection you may have to any one school. Focus your efforts on what each child needs now and the short-term, because unlike the days of yesteryear, changing schools throughout grade school happens far more often than it once did. Most importantly, be mindful of your own opinion and agenda when having these conversations with your children because sometimes you want to ensure each child has a voice and other times, as parents you need to make the decision with the utmost guidance underpinning the choice. As you attend open houses throughout January and February, factor these ideas into your equation to make the process as smooth as possible and remember much of the biggest decisions in life are not real choices, they have already been made, as it is not so much about the answers we are looking for but more so the questions we may be too afraid to ask.


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