Choosing a school for your family

Picking a grade school for your child can seem a daunting task.  All of your friends will have different (and strong) opinions about which school is right.  And what is right for them and their child might not be right for your family.  

So how do you find the right school?  We visited a number of schools, and at the time it seemed that no one school had everything we were looking for.  We identified what we thought was important to us in our children’s education.  We finally picked Good Shepherd after months of research and are very happy that we did.  In deciding to send our children to Good Shepherd, we really looked hard at a number of things.  

How do the children treat each other?  One of the things that stood out from the start with Good Shepherd was how nicely the children treated each other.  The older children were very active with the young ones in a very caring way.  It created a loving and nurturing environment.  The children seemed genuinely happy to be at the school.  

Class size.  One of our children was a little shy.  A large class would have overwhelmed him.  The small class size at Good Shepherd was very appealing to us and is something that is hard to find in many schools.  

Finances.  We did not want to go bankrupt putting the kids through elementary school!  Good Shepherd is very reasonably priced, and the volunteer options to help with tuition were very attractive to us.  Also, the price of extended care at some of the public schools was close to the tuition at Good Shepherd.

Talk to parents.  Talking to the parents of children at the school can give you enormous insight into how the school is run.  The answers we got to our questions tended to be remarkably frank and insightful.  You can really learn a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of a school by finding out what the parents like and dislike about the school.  The parents we spoke to were very involved in the school and their children’s education.

What is taught and how?  When you visit the schools, make sure you go while classes are in session so you can see what is being taught and how the teachers are teaching it.  An emphasis in a certain area might be important to you.  For us, we liked that at Good Shepherd there was such a strong focus on STEM.  And the science class we observed had a very hands on approach that appealed to us.  We also wanted our children exposed to a second language.  The choice of Mandarin as opposed to a romance language was appealing.  

Talk to the teachers.  A large part of how the children are taught is best learned from talking to the teachers.  Ask about what the day to day activities are for the children.  Learn what is expected for each child.  Try and get a sense for the teachers' teaching style.  We really liked the passion the teachers at Good Shepherd had towards education.

What do the children go on to do?  Where the children go and what they do afterwards can give a lot of insight into how well the school has prepared them to meet academic challenges at the next level.  Good Shepherd’s graduating classes are very well prepared to take admissions tests for private high schools.  The students are often receiving high school placement awards. Regardless of whether or not a private high school education is something you are considering later on, its nice to know that if it is, it will be well within their reach after their time at Good Shepherd. 

At Good Shepherd, our children are excited to go to school every day.  They are eager to learn and love their friends and teachers.  It is a special place and we are lucky to have found the right school for our family.