Taking the leap and deciding on the best school for your child is a big life decision — where do you begin? Attending an open house is one way to find the school that is the best fit for your family, and there are plenty of options in the area for private schools, but how do you choose?
“Go to friends and family or other older children that they think are great kids and say, ‘Hey, word of mouth, where do your kids go to school?’ if you see your values and murals align with that family,” suggests Casey Reed, director at the Children’s Meeting House Montessori school.
Now is the time to begin your search. Start by sitting down as a family and writing down what you are looking for in a school for your child or children.
Next, create a list of schools that you are interested in touring and take a look at their websites. These provide a great first glance into what the school values and prides themselves in. Write down what stands out to you, such as awards the school may have earned, and what questions you may have for the admissions director.
“Parents in the Greater Cincinnati area are fortunate to have many schools which host open houses or other admission events,” says Janet Hill, Seven Hills School director of Enrollment Management. “Narrow down the events you attend by learning about the schools through their websites. Click beyond the school’s homepage and peruse the entire site,” she suggests.
Next, attend open houses and come prepared with questions.
- When is registration paperwork and down payment due?
- What forms do you need for registration?
- Are there any admissions testing or interviews, and when do those take place?
- Who do I contact to schedule them?
- Is there a waitlist?
- Are there before-and-after care options available
- Does your school provide transportation?
- For a religious school, do you have to be that religion to attend the school?
- What does this school provide that the public school does not?
- Do you provide scholarships or tuition assistance? If so, what is the process to apply?
- Is tuition charged monthly or by the year?
- What is included in tuition?
- Do you offer school shadowing where my child can shadow a student for a day?
- Do you offer tours during the school day?
- What if I missed the open house or the application deadline, can we tour and still apply?
- What are the typical class sizes per grade? Do you cap out or go over these numbers pending enrollment?
- What options do you have for differentiated instruction such as gifted or special education services?
- What curriculum do you use?
- How is technology used in the school and in the classrooms?
- What services are provided for children with learning needs or disabilities such as dyslexia, anxiety or ADD/ADHD?
- What extracurriculars, clubs and sports are available?
- Is my child able to participate with the local school district in sports if you do not have the sport they like to
- Are there new family programs available such as family mentors?
- Is there a requirement for parent or student volunteer hours? If so, how many hours a year?
After attending open houses and narrowing down your choices, reach out to the schools and ask for a tour during school hours for a “taste” of what the school day looks like.
“I’m a huge fan of the feeling that you get when you come to a school,” says Reed. “You get a feeling or kind of a ‘gut’ check and you’re kind of like, ‘Wow, I feel like I can be here, like this could be a good place for my child,’” she adds.
Everyone has their own perception of things. When you come into the school and see the day in action, it gives you a better idea of the fit for your child. You can also request for your child to shadow a student for a day.
“Parents should feel welcome to contact admission representatives to gather information,” says Hill. “Perhaps a one on-one parent tour, student visit or ‘shadow,’ for older students would be helpful,” she adds.
It is also important to sit down as a family and go over the positives and negatives of each school. Note any additional questions you have and follow up with the school(s).
Put Your Plan in Place
Once your family decides on a school, reach out to ensure that you have all of the registration materials and tuition assistance/scholarship applications, and that you have submitted the registration fee to hold your child’s spot for next year.
“It’s kind of like college these days,” says Reed. “Is there a waiting list? When is the deadline for financial assistance? How do you apply for that? Each school can be quite different, so make sure you really understand,” she adds.
If your child has any special needs, schedule a meeting with the school to discuss what supports will be in place before the school year starts to ensure your child’s success.
Introduce Your Family
You can begin to acclimate yourself to the school community by requesting a school events calendar for the remainder of this school year. This will provide you with information on after-school events that the school has going on.
Attending a school game or festival is an informal way to introduce your family to the school community. However, many schools, such as Mother Teresa (MTCES) have programs to help welcome new families. These programs pair up current families with new families to help them acclimate to the school and to meet new people.
Choosing a school for your child is a huge decision as it is an investment in your child’s future. Make sure you are as prepared as possible in making this decision by visiting schools and asking the questions that are the most important to you.
“The people that your child is spending their time with is really vital to who they become; as a person and as a learner in their future,” says Reed.
OPEN HOUSE ROUND UP
AZALEA MONTESSORI SCHOOL; PRE-K
4502 CARTER AVE., NORWOOD, OH
JANUARY 19, 1 – 3 P.M.
BETHANY SCHOOL; K-8
555 ALBION AVE., GLENDALE, OH
JANUARY 26, 2 – 4 P.M.
CALVARY CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS; PRE-K AND 3-12
5955 TAYLOR MILL ROAD, COVINGTON, KY
JANUARY 25, 10 A.M. – 12 P.M.
CHILDREN’S MEETING HOUSE; PRE-K-12
927 O’BANNONVILLE ROAD, LOVELAND, OH
JANUARY 26, 2 – 4 p.m.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CMH DURING THEIR WEEKLY, COFFEE WITH CASEY – AN INFORMAL MEET-AND-GREET WITH CMH’S SCHOOL DIRECTOR, CASEY REED. WEDNESDAY MORNINGS 9 A.M. FOR COFFEE, CONVERSATION AND Q&A.
CINCINNATI CHRISTIAN; PRE-K-12
ELEMENTARY: 7350 DIXIE HIGHWAY, FAIRFIELD, OH
JH/SH CAMPUS AND ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE:
7474 MORRIS ROAD, FAIRFIELD, OH
ELEMENTARY CAMPUS: 1 – 3 P.M.
JH/SH CAMPUS: 3 – 5 P.M.
CINCINNATI COUNTRY DAY; PRE-K-12
6905 GIVEN ROAD, CINCINNATI, OH
CONTACT SCHOOL TO SCHEDULE A SCHOOL OR CLASS VISIT; FEBRUARY 15 IS THE DEADLINE FOR TUITION ASSISTANCE.
CORNERSTONE CLASSICAL CHRISTIAN ACADEMY; K-4
3800 CHURCH ST., COVINGTON, KY
MARS HILL; K-12
4230 AERO DRIVE, MASON, OH
RHETORIC SCHOOL CLASSROOM VISIT DAY – JANUARY 30 8:30 – 11:45 A.M.
MITTENS & MUFFINS PREK-2 OPEN
HOUSE, JANUARY 31, 9:30 – 11:30 A.M.
MIDDLETOWN CHRISTIAN; K-12
3011 UNION ROAD, MIDDLETOWN, OH
FEBRUARY 9, 2 – 4 P.M.
7197 MOTHER TERESA LANE, LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, OH
JANUARY 26, 2 – 4 P.M.
PRINCE OF PEACE SCHOOL; PRE-K-8
625 PIKE ST., COVINGTON, KY
CONTACT SCHOOL TO SCHEDULE A TOUR.
ROYALMONT ACADEMY; PRE-K-12
200 NORTHCREST DR, MASON, OH
JANUARY 26, 2 – 4 P.M.
SACRED HEART; K-8
400 NILLES RD, FAIRFIELD, OH
JANUARY 26, 1 – 3 P.M.
ST. CECILIA ELEMENTARY; PRE-K-8
5313 MADISON PIKE, INDEPENDENCE, KY
CALL SCHOOL TO SCHEDULE A TOUR
ST. GABRIEL; K-8
18 W SHARON AVE, CINCINNATI, OH
JANUARY 26 – 1 P.M.
ST. IGNATIUS; PRE-K-8
5222 N BEND ROAD, CINCINNATI, OH
JANUARY 26, 1 – 2:30 P.M.
ST. PAUL ELEMENTARY; K-8
7301 DIXIE HWY., FLORENCE, KY
JANUARY 26, 11 A.M. – 2 P.M.
ST. PETER IN CHAINS; PRE-K-8
451 RIDGELAWN AVE., HAMILTON, OH
JANUARY 26, 1 – 4 P.M.
ST. SUSANNA; K-8
500 READING ROAD, MASON, OH
CONTACT SCHOOL TO SCHEDULE A VISIT
ST. THOMAS ELEMENTARY; PRE-K-8
428 ST. FT. THOMAS AVE., FT., THOMAS, KY
CONTACT SCHOOL TO SCHEDULE A TOUR
SUMMIT COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL; PRE-K-12
2161 GRANDIN ROAD, CINCINNATI, OH
CONTACT SCHOOL TO SCHEDULE A VISIT
THE SEVEN HILLS SCHOOL; PRE-K-12
5400 RED BANK ROAD, CINCINNATI, OH
ADMISSION EVENTS JANUARY 28 AND 30 FOR PRE-K – FIFTH