Tampa Bay Area School Information
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.
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.
Step 1: Brainstorm
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.
- For the Practical column please consider:
- How far can my child travel to school?
- Do I need transportation provided, or can I get my child to school another way?
- Do I need before- or after-school care for my child?
- Does my child have any physical, emotional, linguistic or learning needs that require special attention?
- For high school, does my child want preparation for a skilled trade?
- Is college preparation a priority?
- Are modern school facilities important to me?
- What about technology?
- Philosophical Elements
- For the Philosophical column please consider:
- Would my child be better suited to a small school environment, or would a large school be better for him?
- Do I want a school with several grade levels, such as K-12, where my child can remain for several years?
- How important is student diversity?
- Do I want a traditional, back-to-basics program or an alternative approach to learning?
- Extracurricular Elements
- For the Extracurricular column please consider:
- How important are music and art programs?
- Are sports important? Which ones?
- Do I want a school where parents are expected to be very involved with activities and decisions?
- How does the school communicate with parents?
- Are foreign language classes important? Which languages?
Step 2: Prioritize
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.
Step 3: Find schools that match your needs
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.
Step 4: Check boundaries
School district boundaries change, and it's important to confirm with the school that your address indeed falls into their territory and they would accept new students.
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.