How to choose the right elementary school for your child

Angelo Garcia Founder and Executive Director The Segue Institute for Learning

With the myriad of public, private and charter schools in many cities and towns, parents may be wondering what to look for in a school to ensure short- and long-term success. Here are some do’s and don’ts to consider when reviewing the available educational options.


Do look for a school that enables your child to achieve their full potential

Whether your child has a penchant for music or math, athletics or languages, make sure the school is prepared to support it. There should be robust educational and growth opportunities beyond the basic curriculum.

Do find a school that sees you, the parent or caretaker, as part the equation

Family involvement is the key to a child’s success. The school should view you are a partner and allow you to get involved in the decision making process for your child’s learning path and socialization.

Do pick a school that embodies your family’s philosophies and ideals

Consistency is crucial when educating young minds. Ideally, there should be a smooth transition from the home to school environment in terms of goals, beliefs and ideology. This will eliminate confusing messages as children learn.

Do select a school that is an active member of the overall community

Be sure the administration perceives the school to be “part” of the community as opposed to “the” community. Civic engagement is a vital part of the learning process. Your child should be exposed to opportunities to “give back” in his/her neighborhood and beyond.

Do choose a school that is interested in your trajectory as a parent as well as your child’s path

Does the school provide opportunities for your growth, too? Be they educational or volunteer-based, your fulfillment is just as important as your child’s. A fulfilled parent is prone to better raise happy, healthy, well-educated children.


Do not choose a school based on proximity alone

A good education is worth the trip, and sometimes that means traveling outside your neighborhood and perhaps your comfort zone. Be sure to investigate all your options even if they are beyond your immediate geographic footprint.

Do not isolate your child from their own culture or ethnicity

Select a school that provides a decent representation of your family background. In other words, your child should not be the only “purple” kid in school or the only kid who speaks “Pig Latin” at home. Embrace your culture and make sure the school does too.

Do not pick a school that is not willing to share the good, the bad and the ugly

We all grow and learn from our own successes and failures. There should be 100% transparency in communicating with you in terms of what’s happening (or not happening) behind school walls.

Do not settle for a school that does not involve you in your child’s learning process

The teachers will not be at your kitchen table when your child is struggling with math homework. You need to know what options exist for support and extra help. You should have open access to teachers – and they to you.

Do not find a school that pleases you alone

Your child should be happy at their school. Therefore, involve them in the decision-making process. Children are little humans that deserve a voice and a choice in their own education. If your child is involved in school choice, there’s a much higher probability of success, contentment and a lifelong love of education.

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Increasingly diverse educational alternatives for young students today mean families are able to engage in school choice. School choice provides an exceptional opportunity to steer the desired course for your child’s future. Knowing how to best make those choices will give you the power of effective decision-making.

More expert advice about K-12 Education

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Angelo GarciaFounder and Executive Director

Mr. Garcia’s mission and passion was to establish a school that provides a safe, nurturing environment which promotes diversity and individual growth. Under his leadership, the Segue Institute for Learning was established in Central Falls, Rhode...

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