Fall is one of my favorite times of the year, not only because of the leaves, but also because of our weekly tours.
Each week, 35 or so people come for our weekly tour, and I get to talk about my school! I have to admit, I'm so proud of what we have accomplished in our school, and since education is my favorite topic, I am always excited to meet more families and tell them about our special little corner of the world.
But I know this is not as fun for families, and each week I look into their faces and know how nerve-wracking the choice process can be. They have grown comfortable with their elementary schools but now must consider where to send their children for possibly the three most difficult years of childhood. During the middle school years, students need to learn a great deal about friendships, conflict, and the habits they'll need to be successful in high school and college. During this time, their brains will change just as much as they did from age 0 to age 3!
When parents ask me questions about our school, I think they want me to tell them all the reasons that we are the right school for them. But year after year I become more convinced that we cannot do that for parents. As a kindergarten parent myself, I had to experience a bunch of schools, and when I found the right one, it was a match because of who I am, who my children are, and the aspirations I have for them as learners and people. I have had prospective parents say that they had a really good feeling for our school, but friends were going elsewhere, or the other school was closer to home. These are important considerations, but your choice for your child's education is an expression of what you care about most. They will make friends wherever they go -- they are much more resilient than we are.
So 5th grade parents, please ask us all lots of questions and expect us to have answers to both the hard and the easy ones. Then go home, discuss your options, and make the best decision for you and your child.
But p.s., make sure you can live with all the choices you put on that list!