With a new academic year upon us, many parents are coming to terms with the fact that it might be time to switch their son or daughter to a different school — one that might be better suited to handle academic challenges that may have surfaced.

At the de Paul School, the mission is to help inquiring parents feel confident and at ease with their decision to enroll their child. According to Head of School Tony Kemper, parents most often cite a child’s academic under-achievement and organizational/study skillsas their top concerns when seeking a new school. And, it’s true: some schools are better tailored to meet particular learning challenges than others.

Here are five ways to help parents decide whether a school is right for their child.

1. Ask about the school’s reputation.

Parents should learn as much as possible about any school’s history for helping students with various styles of learning succeed in academic pursuits and in life. At de Paul, teaching students who learn differently is both their passion and their 50-year-old specialty. Kemper urges parents who visit the campus to ask about specific outcomes regarding student achievement.

2. Find out what the school does differently.

If your child struggles with a certain learning disability, it’s important to ask about what the school does specifically to work with that challenge in order to realize growth and success. According to Kemper, parents should listen for answers from faculty and staff that “communicate expertise and precision,” including how the classroom is specially designed and equipped. Parents should ask about the philosophy and methods which drive instruction.

“Share with the prospective school your particular concerns from the prior year,” suggests Kemper. “These may include reading assessments, poor grades on report cards, incomplete homework assignments, or a writing sample.  Ask the team what they would do differently in order to remedy these problems for good.”

3. Meet the faculty.

It’s not enough to get a warm and fuzzy feeling about a faculty member when you’re seeking a school that will help your child excel as a student. Parents should ensure that teachers can discuss academics in an informed and even expert way that is concise, clear, and answers questions thoroughly.

Because many faculty members at de Paul are specialized in certain kinds of learning challenges and hold the appropriate training and credentials, moms and dads should feel comfortable bringing up their child’s particular needs.

“Share your concerns with the classroom teacher,” Kemper advises. “Ask them, ‘How can we make a difference collaboratively?’”

4. Take in the school’s culture.

An independent school ought to have its own distinct culture and environment, and parents should take care to find out what that is, according to Kemper. At de Paul, for example, because of the students who attend, the culture is thoughtfully organized and free of unnecessary features to ensure that students stay focused, on task, and productive.

“Ask about the culture, and how the potential school helps students embrace learning.  Ask about the school’s methods of supporting a disciplined and calm setting.  Be sure to take a full tour of the school to experience that culture,” Kemper recommends.

5. Note the feeling of hospitality.

Parents who are considering a new school for their child should also take notice of how welcomed they feel — and how welcomed the child feels. For example, is a tour scheduled as soon as possible? Does the visit feel personalized and friendly? Is the child greeted warmly and compassionately by faculty and staff? Does the staff encourage questions and then listen fully to those questions and concerns? The first impression can often tell parents much regarding the school’s ability to project to a nurturing environment. 

“Many times, families don’t know where to turn, and they come to us for answers or recommendations,” says Kemper. “When they do, we are pleased to show them our school and share de Paul information and stories. That way, they can see the differences in what our school may offer. But whether or not they choose de Paul, we want to help them find the next right program or school for their child.  We want to be that resource for stressed and even desperate families.”

Want to know more about how The de Paul School can help your child succeed?