The first thing to do is keep a notepad handy and write down the names of every school you come across. If you want to be efficient, you can add their names to the first column on an excel spreadsheet so that you can sort them alphabetically, and later, eliminate the ones that aren’t an option.
Read everything you can about the differences between different programs and learn about which features you should be looking for based upon your child’s personal characteristics. A child who requires a lot of time spent reading silently will be well-suited to the school that has a 10,000 square foot library. Children who require fresh air and need to expel a lot of energy in order to pay attention in classes will need a school that offers plenty of outdoor exposure and opportunities to enjoy the natural world.
Check out the resources available on the websites of some of the schools. You might be pleasantly surprised to see admissions quizzes that help counselors set up an initial assessment plan before they even meet you or your child.
Continue eliminating schools that aren’t right for your situation. When you’ve narrowed the list down to less than 5 schools, call them or send away for information. If your child is open to it, and if the school agrees that your child should be part of the decision (some kids with extreme behavior issues are not open to the idea of boarding school and need to be handled with care) then sit down and look through pictures and read brochures together. Some children look upon boarding school as a grand adventure. Others feel upset in the beginning; afraid of the unknown. By the end of the year, they’re all upset to be leaving.
When you’ve done as much as you can with the information you can get, arrange to visit the campus and meet some of the staff and other students. If you’re looking at a school that won’t allow you to do this, look elsewhere. Sit down with school administrators and learn of their behavior management philosophies. Bring up specific characteristics of your child’s personality so they can get to know him through your eyes. Make sure you’re comfortable with the level of respect and professionalism you experience. Most of all, ask yourself “Could my child succeed and happy here?” because in the end, that will be the most important piece of information.
Here are additional resources you might be interested in: