When Harold and I were first married, we lived in a very small rural town in north central Indiana. There was no decision making to choose the right school for your child – you went to the school in your area. We vowed that we would be very intentional about how our children were educated. And that’s where the agreement ended.
Having attended public schools through graduation, and having parents, sibling and family members who also went to public school, I was an advocate. Having been transferred from public school to a prestigious East Coast prep school, Harold was adamant about private school. We stayed at our impasse for years.
And then our children were born. Smart and confident Olivia was reading by age three. Once she had maxed out the daycare curriculum, we sought schooling options that would meet her ability. We settled on a public Montessori based school – the best of both worlds. We loved the idea that her development would not be hindered by her age. Bold and brilliant, Alexandra followed suit. We were both very happy with the fit for our girls.
As a parenting and family management coach, one of my favorite topics is how to choose the right school. There is so much that goes into finding the right fit for you, your child and your family. Public vs. Private School? Single sex vs. co-ed? Charter vs. independent? Homeschooling? So many questions and so many options.
When working with families I focus on three vital areas to find the right educational fit: how do they think, how do they learn, and how do they love. I’ll start with the last one first because I am sure you’re wondering what love has to do with it. I’ll tell you.
LEARN YOUR CHILD’S LOVE LANGUAGE
Originally written for married couples in 1995, The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman identifies five human behaviors that most people interpret as love. In 1997 he released a version of the book aimed at helping parents understand and love their children better. Why is it important to finding a good fit for my child academically you ask? Knowing their love language will help you assess the kind of behaviors and people your child can and will learn from.
A child who needs quality time may not fare so well with large numbers of students per classroom. One who thrives on affirmation will need a teacher who is comfortable giving verbal praise. A child whose language is acts of service may do best in an environment where everyone helps one another learn. Touch and gifts are obviously the most difficult to accommodate in a public setting, so home-schooling may be an option until they are a little older.
Learning your child’s Love Language will help you choose the right school for their success.
Also Related: Do You Know Your Love Language?
LEARN YOUR CHILD’S PERSONALITY
The first thing I have potential clients do is undergo a few assessments. Most parents think they know their child pretty well. The assessments help to eliminate the guess work. They also help parents articulate what they instinctively know, but can’t explain about their child. A behavioral predictive index (or personality test) is a great way to understand how your child thinks. Knowing how he thinks, will help determine how he learns.
While the most popular assessment is Myers-Briggs, I find it a bit too complex. I prefer the True Colors Assessment. It assigns personality traits to four different colors: green, gold, blue and orange. I often explain the colors in this way: green personalities want to know why, gold personalities want to know how, blue personalities want to know who, and orange personalities want to know when. My girls are blue and orange: a social people person who thrives on being accepted and an “ants-in-her-pants” impulsive whiz kid who doesn’t like to sit. We found environments that that cater to their individual needs and will foster success.
LEARN HOW YOUR CHILD IS SMART
“Stop asking how smart is my child, and begin asking how is my child smart?”
I learned this quote in a parent advocacy training, and it has stuck with me since that time. Every child has brilliance, and as parents, it’s our job to nurture and cultivate it. The challenge is that their brilliance may not align with mainstream standards of ability and achievement. That’s where Multiple Intelligence’s may help.
Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences says that there are 8 different ways people can be smart. The brain receives and processes information in these 8 different ways and everyone has a high or low ranking on each scale. Traditionally, we accept the logical intelligence (math) and linguistic intelligence (words and language) as primary, with visual-spatial intelligence (artistic) and musical intelligence as “valid” forms of giftedness.
But there are four other ways to be smart, and your child may excel in one of those: nature (outdoorsy), interpersonal (self-aware), intrapersonal (other people aware) and bodily-kinesthetic (athleticism) are intelligences as well. When you discover how your child is smart, you can choose the right school environment to support and nurture that intelligence.
Discover how your child thinks and choose the right school for her to think, learn and thrive. You can find free assessments online at www.lonerwolf.com/tests. Start today to create the best future for your children tomorrow.
How did you decide which school (or homeschool) your child would attend?