Tuesday, January 28, 2003

A reader asks in a comment:

Amy, In your blogging this week, I'd love to hear your ideas on how to select a school for your child as a Catholic parent. In my city we have three Catholic diocesan schools and one independent school espousing Catholic values (formed primarily by Opus Dei members who thought the diocesan schools were too liberal). My parish does not have a school yet, although we may in a few years. We also have a number of Christian private schools of various denominations (I've ruled out the ones that don't teach evolution). Then we have the neighborhood public elementary schools, a magnet "back to basics" public elementary school, and various charter schools, including a Montessori-based option. I'm wading through reams of mission statements, philosophies, class size & composition reports, and test scores, and starting to do school visits.

How can a parent without a background in education navigate this morass? In a way I'm lucky to have a lot of choices, but it adds to the confusion. I have an extremely active 5-year-old boy who will be entering kindergarten next fall. Given his activity and distractibility levels, I'm a little worried about the class sizes at the diocesan schools. What's more important: class size or student/teacher ratios? Test scores or teacher experience? Basic "3 R's" education or morals and values?

It was bad enough choosing among academic / developmental / Montessori / Waldorf / etc. pre-schools. The kindergarten process feels very overwhelming at times. I'd appreciate any thoughts you have.


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