(Photo Credit: Andy Seth)

“It’s something we all talk about in our mom’s group. Where’s your kid going to school?”

My good friend and mother of two continued: “When we grew up, there were no choices; we went to the local school. Now, there’s a lot to consider and it takes time to figure out what’s right for our kids. It’s better to have choice, but we don’t want to be wrong or hurt our long-term goals.”

I nodded in agreement having heard similar concerns from parents across the country. Having choice gives parents the option to decide what’s best for their children, and the choice isn’t limited to public vs. private anymore.

How, then, do you pick the perfect school for your child?

6 Rules to Make a Fast and Accurate Decision

To help our Denver-based Clients with the selection process, we hosted a seminar and brought in an educational consultant, Stephanie Sabga, to provide answers. Here are her 6 basic rules to follow:

1) Determine what the family needs.

Start with practical matters such as schedules, transportation, location, siblings, outside activities and money. For example, if you’re thinking about school costs and you haven’t seen how this impacts your other goals, give your advisor a call and we’ll run the numbers for you.

2) Understand what your student needs.

This “little person” is still developing so knowing what they need isn’t easy. Begin with your child’s interests, strengths and affinities and how he learns best (when told or shown, through action or repetition?). Also consider:

  • What motivates your child and what turns her off?
  • Does your child socialize with other children? Adults? When you’re not around?
  • Special needs such as physical and mental health or behavior and learning differences.

For example, one client picked a school with 3 recesses because her son can’t sit for long.

3) Identify the schools in your area and build your long list of 5-10 schools maximum.

For a K-12 online resource, check out Great Schools.org. You can compare schools nationwide based on various criteria you developed in steps 1 and 2.

4) Network with parents and conduct site visits.

See if the marketing material matches what you’ve heard or see in person. This is your chance to lift the hood, walk the school and talk to the leadership. “School fit” factors:

  • Subjects and extracurriculars offered
  • Challenging educational goals
  • Approach to discipline and free time
  • Social environment (PTA) and student/parent values

5) Short list your schools to no more than 3.

I’m serious, if you have more than 3 schools on your short list, it’s not short. You may have a clear front-runner but it’s also possible that your head is spinning. If so, this last step’s for you…

6) “Nibble” to get a little extra and make a decision.

There’s a negotiation tactic called “nibbling”. It’s when you get all the information and are about to make a decision, only to say, “oh, just one more thing” Here are a few crumbs:

  • Clear mission guiding school activities
  • High student expectations
  • Making teaching / curriculum changes when needed
  • Safe and orderly conduct

Imagine how implementing these techniques could change your child’s future. My friend and her husband asked us to customize a plan and portfolio that allowed them to give their children the best education while securing their retirement… and occasionally live extravagantly along the way. They are on track to have enough when they need it and get peace of mind knowing they’ve provided for their family.

If you or a friend is concerned about the impact of education costs on your long-term goals, take action today and contact us.

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