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Choosing A School - Avoid The Biggest Mistake Parents Make

“Oh, I heard that was a great school! Why would you not want to send your child there?” the mother at the park asked me quizzically.

She stared at me, daring me to refute her argument. I could. She had ignored a vital piece of information when she said it was a great school. She did what so many other parents do, without thinking. She didn’t consider how my child learns. Thankfully, I had.

Is your child smart? Most parents, unless they are first time parents of a toddler, will hesitate when they answer the question. “Bright” is a word that is commonly used. But “smart,” no.

According to Mariaemma Willis and Victoria Hodson, authors of Discover Your Child’s Learning Style, kids start learning they can’t be successful in life while in kindergarten. Yes, in kindergarten. It’s the first time they pick up the message that they are not smart because they move their lips when they read, can’t learn math the way it is taught, or can’t sit still for long periods of time. It’s the same message parents believe.

The question is not “is your child smart?” The question is “how is your child smart?” Can you define how your child processes information, or learns and communicates in the world? Ever wonder why your child likes to have music on when doing homework, or seems to have no sense of time? Your child is demonstrating how she is smart.

Why does this matter? Knowing how your child is smart will become invaluable when searching for the right school as well as giving you and your child tools and vocabulary for school success.

Understanding your child’s learning style means knowing four different pieces of information.

  1. Your Child’s Preferred Learning Modality
  2. Every human has a preference for the way they like to receive information, be it auditory, visual, tactile or kinesthetic. Your child also has a preference. Knowing what it is will help you look at the schools and how they teach to different modalities.
  3. Understanding Your Child’s Disposition

  4. Disposition is the preferred way a person learns, works and communicates. Willis and Hodson have determined there are five dispositions: Performing, Producing, Relating/Inspiring, Thinking/Creating, and Inventing. Each disposition has its own characteristics. For instance, a child with the Performing disposition may like to be the “entertainer,” while a child with the Inventing Disposition may prefer to spend time alone or with adults. Knowing your child’s disposition will help guide you to finding a school that can nurture the disposition, and use that disposition to teach your child the skills necessary to be successful.

  5. Your Child’s Favored Work Environment
  6. Many parents of older children, after having read the assessment of their child, have told me: “Well, that explains why he likes to have the music on while he’s studying!” Children have favored environments they prefer: quiet, music, lounging on the floor, in natural light, or being with others. Different environments suit different kids. Know your child’s preference and you can walk into any school to see if they support it.
  7. Your Child’s Talents and Interests
  8. For obvious reasons, knowing your child’s interests and talents is key to any search. Is your child into to drama? Does the school have a program to support that? If they don’t, how will you support their interests outside of school? These are important considerations when making a school choice. It will affect the time they have to spend with friends and driving time to and from lessons, etc.

Identifying how your child is smart will provide you with a specific lens to view the schools, the lens that represents your child. Will you find a school that meets all of your child’s needs? Probably not, but you will find schools that are better at it than others.

Kim Hamer is founder of GetIntoPrivate School.com: Supplying Tools and Products to Families Applying to Private Elementary School. For a Learning Styles Assessment for children ages preschool to 2nd grade or 3rd grade to adult, click on the link. To receive your 5 Free Tips or join my newsletter go to GetIntoPrivateSchool.com

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