Choosing the right school for your child

“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” – William Ernest Henley

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

In Part 1 of “Choosing the Right School for Your Child, I shared a few strategies and ideas on what to look for when choosing a school. One key component of evaluating a school is to ask yourself the question “Am I ready to ‘SHOW UP’ at this school? Is this the school environment where l can feel comfortable to share my resources or concerns and be heard?

As parents we all face roadblocks that sometimes distract us from what is important. However, when it comes to our children’s education, we must “show up” and find ways to participate by volunteering in the schools, attending parent-teachers conferences, making sure homework is complete, reading to our children and turning off the electronic devices.

As I watched my mother many years ago work with my brother six days a week because he was labeled a “special education kid,” I learned about teamwork and accountability. My father, who worked 12-hour days, would do the housework so that mother could have more time with my brother. Our neighbors also provided support. My brother did graduate from high school and went on to earn two college degrees. It took a “village,” but we didn’t give up; we believed it could be done!

We are all responsible for the spiritual and educational growth of our children, but as parents we must be accountable to do the necessary work to ensure that our children succeed in school. You must believe that you can add value to your child’s educational process regardless of life circumstances.

Take the time to evaluate schools by reviewing resources that are available by going to your local library. Another strategy would be to compare notes with parents who are involved, review school performance through the Minnesota Department of Education website, or use Minneapolis School Finder as another resource at


Carolyn Smallwood is the executive director of Way to Grow, an early childhood education nonprofit in Minneapolis working to ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to succeed in school and life.

One Comment on “Choosing the right school for your child”

  1. My son is going to be starting school in the fall and so I really need to pick one out for him. I definitely want an environment where I can be comfortable getting involved and still have my concerns heard. However, I think that it can be quite difficult to evaluate whether or not your concerns will be heard as a parent before picking a school. At least, I don’t know how to tell which school will be good at that and so do you think that you can give me some tips of what I can do to find out whether or not a school will hear my concerns out?

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