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Choosing an Elementary School

How To Choose The Right Elementary School For Your Child

Many families opt to send their children to the school they are assigned to. But if you decide you want something different or, in your eyes, "better," then you have to consider numerous factors including class size, school size, test scores, teacher-to-pupil ratio, and so on. For example, in "Choose Your Child's School with Confidence," the authors assert that classes with 17 students or fewer are better than larger ones.

Also, in this age of budgetary cutbacks, some parents look closely at how many "extras" a school offers, such as physical education, art, music, and languages. Most schools list much of this information on their websites, so you can do a lot of legwork in front of your computer.

Don't forget to consider simple logistics as well -- things like location or what time the school starts. If you are a family of late sleepers, an elementary school with an earlier-than-normal start time or one that's 30 minutes away from your house is probably not a good choice.

And be sure to factor cost into your decision -- some private day schools now cost as much as -- or more than -- many colleges.

Once you've narrowed down your list, visit the schools during a school day to get a first-hand sense of a school's "climate," says Edward L. Schor, M.D., editor of "Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5-12."

This means seeing things like how the teachers and students interact, how orderly the environment seems, and if the children are well behaved while still having a good time.

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