Selecting the School That Is Right for Your Child: Consider Your Child and Your Family

— U.S. Department of Education
Updated on Jul 23, 2010

Start your search for the best school by thinking about what you want a school to do for your child. Perhaps your child has special language or education needs. Keep these in mind. After all, you know your son or daughter better than anyone else does.

Your Child's Needs

  • Does your child need a more structured environment?
  • Does your child need a less structured environment?
  • Does your child need more challenging work?
  • Does your child need more individual attention?
  • Does your child generally need extra help or more time to complete an assignment?
  • Does your child have any special learning needs?
  • Does your child need an environment that fosters creativity?
  • Does your child need an English language acquisition program?

Your Child's Learning Style

  • Does your child learn best by seeing how things work?
  • Does your child learn best by reading about how something works?
  • Does your child learn best by listening?
  • Does your child like to participate in discussions?
  • Does your child like to learn through physical activity?
  • Is your child logical or mathematical?
  • Is your child musical or artistic?
  • Does your child like to learn in groups?
  • Does your child like to work alone?

Location of School

  • Do you want your child to go to a school within walking distance of your home?
  • Can your child's talents be nurtured outside your neighborhood?
  • How far are you willing to have your child bused?
  • How far are you willing to drive your child to school?
  • Does your child want to be in a school with his or her friends?
  • Do you want your child to go to a school near your after-school care? Near where you work? Near a close relative?
  • Does your child have any special transportation needs that must be considered in choosing a school?

Parent Tip:

Know Your Options Under the No Child Left Behind Act for Children in Public Schools That Are "In Need of Improvement"

Parents of children in public schools designated as  "in need of improvement" can choose another public school or supplemental educational services such as tutoring.

If your child's public school receives federal Title I funds, it must let you know how well the students in the school are learning. The school district must contact you if the school does not meet the academic standards set by the state for two consecutive years. You can find out how well your school is doing by looking at the school's report card.

If your child's school has been identified by the state as in need of improvement, the school district must give you the choice of keeping your child in that school or sending him or her to another public school. If your child attends a school that has needed improvement for more than a year, your school district is required to give you a list of organizations and institutions that provide tutoring or extra help outside of the regular school day. This extra help is called "supplemental educational services". If your child is eligible for this help, and your income is low, the school district may pay for these extra services. Such services may include before- and afterschool tutoring in reading, other language arts, or math.

If you have not heard from your public school about whether the school is "in need of improvement" and whether your child qualifies to receive supplemental educational services, contact the school or the school district and ask for the person/s in charge of choice and supplemental services programs. You can also go to your state department of education's website for a list of schools "in need of improvement" and approved supplemental educational services providers. If you have difficulty finding these lists, call the U.S. Department of Education at 1-888-814-6252 for help in reaching your state contact, or go to the U.S. Department of Education's Web site at for a list of contacts in your state.

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