Over the last few weeks, I have accompanied some Rise families to tours of public elementary schools in the area to help them make informed selections for the School Choice process. As a visitor, I was considering the environment for both typically developing children and children with special needs. I was surprised by the different populations that each school serves, as well as the resources (or lack thereof). For those parents well into the process, or those still looking ahead to this transition, I thought it might be helpful to have a list of questions to ask when considering what school might be right for your child.
• Average student class size?
• Staffing ratios (How many students per teacher or teaching assistant?)
• What specials are offered (i.e. P.E., music, technology, art)
• Does the Kindergarten (or 1st grade) team have expectations of incoming students for certain skills (i.e. counting, letter identification, writing first/last name, etc.)
• What extracurricular activities are offered? Is before-school and after-school care available? If so, is it on-site?
• What therapy services are available? (i.e. PT, OT, Speech, psychologist, social worker)
• Are the therapists itinerant or in-house? If itinerant, how many hours spent on this campus?
• For children on IEPs, what population of students does your campus serve? (i.e. learning disabilities, mild-moderate, moderate-severe, Autism-specific, cross-categorical, etc.)
• What is the administration’s or school’s philosophy on inclusion?
It is my estimation that as parents, you will be able to determine pretty quickly whether or not a school would be a good fit for your child, especially given the information above. Our Rise students have gone to elementary schools all over the metro area, and we have found that so much of their experiences depend on their classroom teacher, the administration and its philosophies, and your involvement as a parent. Good luck and please stop in if I can be of any help!