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By GreatSchools Staff
Figuring out exactly what you want in a school is not a simple task. When you imagine the ideal school for your child, you may picture colorful classrooms, dynamic teachers and a variety of extracurricular programs. But you need to weigh your child's needs, your family's values and practical constraints, as well. If you have more than one child, you may want them to attend the same school even if they seem suited for different environments. How do you figure out which qualities are most important when choosing a school?
Get a printable worksheet for this exercise here.
Use this guide to consider all these important elements side by side. You might even invite your child to join you in this brainstorming process, especially if he has already attended school and has some ideas about what's important to him.
On a sheet of paper, draw three columns down the length of the page. Title each of the three columns as follows: Practical, philosophical, extracurricular. Using the guidelines below for each column, list the characteristics and qualities you're looking for in a school. Then continue on to steps two and three.
Review each of your three lists and number your ideas in order of importance to you. While all the factors you've brainstormed may play some role in your decision, it's unlikely that any school will have every single characteristic you're looking for. The goal of this exercise is to clarify which components you can't do without.
Through this exercise, you've created a basic picture of the school you're looking for. Now it's time to zero in on the schools that you'll consider for your child. Click into individual school profiles, where you'll find information about school curriculum, achievement, teacher-student data and much more.
Don't forget that the best way to find out whether a school is the right place for your child is to visit in person. To make the most of your school visits, take along this handy school visit guide from GreatSchools.org: