Choosing an English High School

    Choosing a school for your child is a deeply individual matter. Who knows your child the best? You do. Who most understands your finances, daily schedules, and family culture? None other than you.

    Yet as school districts expand their school-choice policies with lotteries and magnet and charter options, the process becomes increasingly complicated — overwhelming even the most conscientious of parents.

    Where does one go for support? While schools distribute information, and fellow moms and dads can dish up gossip, what parents really need is a school-choice expert.

    Do your homework

    Before choosing a school, I advise parents to prioritize what’s most important to their child and family, taking into consideration academics, special education, sports, arts, and other extracurricular activities but also practicalities like tuition, transportation, and aftercare.

    Whether you’re choosing a preschool or high school, find out what happens to children who graduate from that institution. Where do they go next, and are they successful there? Seek out parents whose children went through the program, and talk to them about their experiences.

    The best time to visit a school is in the late fall, after class has been in session a while but before the rush around enrollment deadlines for the following year. I advises families to visit more than one school, because it’s through such comparison shopping that parents learn what they most value in an educational setting.

    To switch or not to switch

    Although I encourage parents to exercise their right to choose the best school for their child, I recommend caution when it comes to switching schools in the middle of the year. If at all possible, avoid doing so even if you’re extremely unhappy. Studies suggest it’s much worse for children’s education to be moved during a school year than to stick it out in a mediocre institution. Only under horrible circumstances — if your child is truly miserable or in danger — should you change schools mid-year.

    Important questions to ask when looking at a high school?

    • Where will my son/daughter go to college? And not just college, but where else do students go after graduation? The military?