A few weeks ago we enrolled our child in Kindergarten.
It is a milestone that I have been looking forward to for years with bittersweet emotions. As a Mom, it seems crazy that my kiddo is now old enough to start kindergarten. Where did the time go?
The whole process can be quite daunting for many parents and child custodians. There are SO many options in Denver for schools: charters, private, public… and even to narrow the list down more there are inter-baccalaureate, dual immersion, Montessori-style schools, and international academies.
For many families, choosing a kindergarten can feel a little overwhelming.
Many parents choose to send their children to the local neighborhood school and not give any thought to other options. I have spoken to many families that are HUGE advocates of this and have had extremely positive experiences with choosing their neighborhood school. There are many pros to doing this, and it is by far the easiet process to undertake. Check out your local neighborhood school by visiting the district school map in your city/ county.
For others, the local neighborhood school just isn’t a good fit for a variety of reasons. It could be anything from school hours not working for the parents’ work schedule, or the desire for a specific type of education. That is where the rest of this article comes into play. We have made the decision, after a ton of thought, to send our kiddo to a local charter school within our school district, which required a tour and a Choice Enrollment Form. (Click here for more information on the Choice Enrollment process in Denver).
Since the school options are so varied, I’ve compiled a list of steps to help other parents navigate the journey of choosing a kindergarten that is right for your child and your family!
List your family values when it comes to education
Start with your hopes and expectations for education. Do you want lots of physical activity? A more structured environment? A school within walking distance from your home? A huge emphasis on a second language? List out your top priorities.
The second step is to start visiting schools that may fit your families list. Many schools are happy to schedule a tour with the principal (I did a few of these). Others may have pre-scheduled informational meetings or tours you need to sign up in advance to attend. Call or visit the school website for information on visiting the school and seeing the environment firsthand.
Learn about Choice Enrollment
Choice Enrollment is an amazing application process that allows children to attend schools outside of their designated neighborhood school. There are deadlines for two early rounds, and it is a lottery system with some priorities going to siblings and residency of school districts. Know your deadlines and any expectations the school has for applying (many have separate applications or mandatory tours due along with the application).
Consult other parents
Take a moment to ask friends and family who have children attending schools about their experience. Sometimes simple conversations can really help flesh out decisions!
Trust your gut
While reading reviews and getting opinions from friends are great ways to help choose a school, make sure to also trust your instincts when deciding the best fit for your child and your families needs. You know your child best.
The best advice I got was to not worry about the details and go with the best overall fit. There were so many great schools I visited and, honestly, I think all of them would have worked, but we finally decided on a school within reasonable distance, with a curriculum that we thought would be fantastic for our child’s development.
My wife and I have been looking for a kindergarten to start our son at next year and we aren’t really sure what to look for. I liked that you had mentioned that it can be important to list out your top priorities and what you expect out of the school and find one that can offer those things to the child. I’ll have to sit down with my wife and come up with a list of things we’re wanting for him and once we can agree on the top priorities, we’ll be making sure we find a kindergarten that can meet those.
I loved when you mentioned how you can visit several schools so you can compare kindergartens before choosing one. It makes sense to think that doing this can help you see what is available in your area and choose the best school program for your child. Personally, I would also want to read online reviews so I understand what other parents prefer in my area in order to find a reputable place to teach my son.
Thanks for the tips for choosing kindergarten. My son is getting to that age, and we are trying to find the right place for him to learn and grow. I like that you mentioned to make a list of the values you want in a school. That way, you can easily eliminate programs that don’t work for your family. We will start there.
My daughter has finally reached the age where she needs to go to kindergarten. One thing that really stood out to me is that you say to make sure that you read reviews about the school. It would be nice to know that people like the school and that she will get the best education.