Finding the best school for your child is never easy. As a parent, you will have many questions regardless if you’re looking for a school for the first time or for another school where you can transfer your child. The child’s needs and family requirements along with the many available school options are what makes the task of choosing a school daunting.

If you live in New York, New York, then you will be facing various choices that might overwhelm you, especially since the number of school types and schools that opened grew in the last few years. In this article, we will talk about how to find the best school and the various school types available in New York City.

Assessing Your Needs

The first step in finding a good school is to assess your child’s as well as your family’s needs.

Every kid is different, which is why it’s highly recommended for parents to keep in mind the child’s personality and interests when choosing a school. Is the child showing strong potential in music, arts, or sports? Is the child displaying high aptitude for math and sciences? If yes, then a school with a specialized program or curriculum might be the best option for him or her. Similarly, if the child is a bit shy and gets overwhelmed when surrounded by many people, then you may want to consider sending him or her to a small school or those with small class sizes.

Do you prefer a school near your home or your office? Will your child be needing before or after school care? The family’s needs must also be factored in when scouting for a school.

Understanding Your Options

Parents are facing many options as well as challenges regarding their children’s education. For one, there are different school types to choose from such as magnet schools, alternative schools, private and traditional public schools. Below are some of the different school types available in New York City.

Considering neighborhood schools in New York, New York?

If you prefer to send the child to a school nearby, then the neighborhood school might be a perfect choice. You must check what the rules are pertaining to local district boundaries as this would give you an idea of the school that would be assigned to your child.

There are also other school types that are either within or outside your local district. Parents, however, must remember that the schools they prefer may have many applicants, making enrollment to the school of their choice much harder. 

Considering magnet schools in New York, NY?

New York City also has magnet schools for parents who would like specialized education for their child. These magnet schools offer a special curriculum on math, sciences, arts, or music. They also usually have either different organizational rules or structures like having a year-round school year or having children from different grade levels mixed in a single class.

Magnet schools are quite attractive and usually have many applicants that reside outside their school district.

Considering charter schools in New York, NY?

Public education has seen major changes in recent years including the growth in the number of charter schools available. 

Charter schools, unlike the traditional public schools, make and abide by their own charters, which are checked and approved by local school boards. They are exempt from following state regulations but must follow the rules of their charter. Failing to do so could result in their closure. 

Charter schools also are not required to follow traditional boundary rules like most public schools, allowing them to accept students outside their districts. Many charter schools tend to receive more applicants than they can take. When this happens, the school will determine the enrollment of applicants using a random selection process, usually a lottery.

Considering alternative schools in New York, NY?

There are schools that offer a different educational philosophy and they are called alternative schools. They usually have smaller class sizes or use a self-paced curriculum. Alternative schools may also focus more on the children’s psychological, social and emotional development.

The phrase “alternative school” is used broadly. Parents then must ask why the school falls into the alternative school category. Ask the school what they’re doing differently, which allows them to be categorized as an alternative school.

Considering private schools in New York, NY?

Private schools are not funded by the government, allowing them to craft their own admissions criteria and enrollment rules. It is up to the board of directors, management, principals, and teachers to make and decide the school’s eligibility rules, teaching methods, curriculum, and other policies. Private schools, unlike public schools, can also employ the services of teachers without credentials.

Researching the Schools

After determining the best school type for your child, then it’s time to make a list of possible schools and vet them one-by-one. Parents must check the schools’ profile, test scores, teacher-student ratios, and ethnic make-up, to name a few. Asking or finding out what other parents are saying about the school’s management, leadership and instruction, and teacher quality will be useful as well.

You may want to visit the school personally as a school tour will provide you with valuable insights. You can also have a list of questions ready before the visit so the principal or any of the school’s staff can answer them. According to the U.S. Department of Education website, it’s best for the parent to have a list of priority features they’d like the school to have. Below are what parents should include in their lists.

  • Visible active children
  • High expectations
  • Staff who are appreciative of the visit
  • The openness of school official in answering parents’ inquiries
  • Robust parent-teacher association

School Ratings in New York City

Another important component of the research process is understanding school ratings.  There are a number of websites that provide ratings for schools, including Niche.com, Schooldigger.com and GreatSchools.org. In addition, Google and Facebook give parents and students an opportunity to rate schools. It is worth looking at the ratings across schools as it will help build a more complete picture of the school experience and be least dependent on a single bad or good rating a school may receive. 

Check the Application and Enrollment Rules of Schools in New York, NY

If you already found the school that you think is best for your child, then you should check its admission and enrollment procedures, and policies. Public schools normally ask parents to submit their child’s health and immunization records as well as proof of address. Parents who are aiming to have their child enrolled in New York, NY neighborhood school must have all the paperwork ready before the application deadline.

Choosing a school for your child is a major decision that requires evaluating your and your child’s needs and interests so you can choose the best school type. Doing additional research on the school you have in mind will help you reach a well-informed decision.

What is the best school in New York City?

Well there are many great school options available in New York and the answer really depends on the needs of your child, but definitely consider the New York French American School. Since 2010 we have educated hundreds of dual language PK-8 students in our tuition-free French immersion school. We absorb and support all levels of French & English language learners in our highly sought after bilingual and immersion school environment.  We unlock a lifelong appreciation for our multicultural world as we teach in French and English. Find out more and help your child feel the world!