Share This Post

Children / Colorado Livin' / School

Getting Started On Your School Search

Tis’ the season folks – yes, it’s that time of year again, the holiday season, but it’s also the season to start making informed decisions about where your child will attend elementary school. You may be in the midst of completing applications for January. Some of you may be getting an early start on your research in preparation for next year. Then there are those of you who are scratching your heads and thinking, where do I even begin? Wherever you are in the school process, there is much to do and learn.

(Stock photo by nosheep)

scooptooFINAL(sm)There are resources to help with your research including your friends, neighbors, and online sites – some more comprehensive than others. Most of you will end up on a similar whirlwind tour to the one we took. Our educational blog, ScoopToo was created to help Denver parents get a grip on this process and all the school options available for your little ones. Whether you choose a private school for your child or a traditional public school that’s a bit more cutting edge, there is a lot of time and effort that goes into the search of finding the school that is the perfect fit for your child. When we researched schools a few years ago for our children, we wished there had been more resources available to assist us. We envisioned a one-stop-shop where parents could go and learn more about navigating the elementary school phase of their children’s education. And that’s what we did. We’re two moms that became passionate about this topic and wanted to help other parents make sense of it all.

Since this is the time for making a list (and checking it twice) that’s exactly what we did for you. If you are frantic or just unsure about where, when, and how to get started in your school search, please take a look below at this Top Ten List we created. We hope it will provide you with some sort of direction, along with helpful tips and advice while getting you on the right track to acquiring the information needed for your educational journey. To learn further about some of the tips provided below, you might find our Getting Started post on ScoopToo helpful.

Here’s a top ten list to get you started:

1. Start early. A good time to start the elementary school search is while your child is in preschool. However, some of you may want to do it sooner, especially if you choose public school. Many Denver Public Schools offer ECE programs for three and four year olds. Also, some private school programs start earlier than Kindergarten – several begin at age 2. The earlier the better for starting your school search.

2. Important criteria. Think about the most important qualities you want in a school. Is it strong leadership and a vision? Is it smaller class size? Is it a religious education? Is it a public school with an emphasis on reform? Is it a private school with a more traditional approach?

3. Match your child to the school. Be sure to take a good look at your child. Does he or she have specific needs that must be addressed within a certain type of school? A meeting with their preschool teacher would prove to be beneficial in learning more about their academic achievements and what type of school environment they would most likely excel in. You may also want to get your child assessed by a professional psychologist to determine their learning style if you are unsure.

4. Use your network. Talk to friends, acquaintances, and teachers to learn about different schools in your area. Ask what they like about these schools and why they were drawn to them. But remember, what’s right for your friend or neighbor’s kid, might not be a fit for yours.

5. Create a list. Organize the list of schools you’re thinking about visiting (private, charter, public). Visit the school’s websites to learn more about them or read some of our School Profiles on ScoopToo. You can also use our handy school comparison spreadsheet we’ve created.

6. Think local. Find out what your neighborhood school is. If you are unsure about which school it is, you can find out on the DPS School List. Visit this school early on to see if it’s a good fit for your child. Some people end their search here because they like what their neighborhood school has to offer. Other parents like to “shop around” to see how other schools compare.

7. Right to choose. We’re fortunate to have School Choice in Colorado. This gives parents more options for their child besides their neighborhood school. Just like every child has different needs every school provides something a little bit different than the next. Be sure to do your research to see which school is best for your child.

8. See for yourself. Call the schools, or check their Websites, to see when school tours and Open Houses are offered. This is a great way to get a feel for the school, talk to parents whose children attend the school, and get better acquainted with the principal. You will learn a great deal of information from these tours and get a vibe on whether it’s a school you can envision your child attending. Once you have narrowed your search down to a couple of schools, visit them again; you may change your mind once you see them in a different light.

9. Special advanced programs – public. Are you considering Advanced K or HGT? You will need to set appointments and get assessed. For Advanced Kindergarten, applications are accepted in December for the following school year, and testing takes place in January and February. For more comprehensive information, check out our post on ScoopToo. For Highly Gifted & Talented you will not need to worry about this until your child is already in Kindergarten.

10. The privates. If you are interested in private school, there is a different set of steps to follow. You can contact each school you are interested in or check out their Websites to obtain more information on tuition, dates for tours, and Open Houses. Once you narrow your search down and apply, the application process can be quite arduous. Several private schools require testing and most schools require teacher recommendations, an interview with your child as well as you.

To learn further about your DPS options for ECE and Kindergarten, you may want to attend this event. It’s FREE!  (Click these images to see details.)

Scoop Postcard_Page_1Scoop Postcard_Page_2

Getting Started On Your School Search was written by Kerri Barclay and Jenn Massie (The Moms behind ScoopToo)

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

Share This Post