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  • Writer's pictureVicky Keston

School Choice – Finding the Best Fit for Your Child

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

Here is my annual pep talk, as we wind up our private and public school applications. Choose a school for the kid you have, not the kid you imagined. This article focuses on K-8, with an article forthcoming for high school, but the principles apply to any age. If your child may be difficult to place, this article is especially for you.

The process is mutual

The goal of the private school application process is to find a mutual fit. During the tours, ask yourself, what kind of child thrives at this school? What kind of child is happy here? What kind of child is Admissions looking for? Speak with current parents and ask them these questions. If you observe a classroom, check out which kind of kids are in the room.

Are there children that attend this school and who are like my child in terms of personality and temperament?

Be honest in your application

The worst case is not a rejection from your favorite school. Your worst case is an unhappy child and the need to transfer in a year or two. Your goal is a happy child.

Imagine this scenario: you use the information that you gathered to present your child as someone admissions desires, and your child is admitted. But there’s more . . . you presented your child not as they really are, but as what you think admissions wants to hear. Your current (pre)school wants to be supportive, and does not share some confidential details about your child. When you arrive, your child has issues and is unhappy. Perhaps, there is a diagnosis to disclose, and your child needs support. Perhaps, your child is simply not a fit for this style of education. By holding back the full picture of who your child is, you stopped admissions from assessing your child’s fit.

Instead, imagine this scenario: You share the full picture of your child, the good and the not-so-flattering. Nobody is perfect, right? You ask your current (pre)school to let the school know any accommodations or adjustments your child needs. You have an open discussion with admissions during the parent interview. When decisions come back, some schools accept your child, and others do not. The outcome in this scenario: the schools that accept your child, love your child for who they are, and are a great fit, whereas even any rejections are also a gift because you avoid a poor fit.

Love the school that loves your child best

Consider the admissions process a great way to find a school where your child will thrive. A school where they will be comfortable and can be themselves. A school that will support their strengths *and* weaknesses. The wonderful part of San Francisco, there are many private schools with many different styles and teaching philosophies. This broad choice is your friend when searching for a school where your kid will be happy.

What about the future? How will my child get into high school/college?

Imagining the next stage can be overwhelming. Consider the two scenarios: (1) a student who struggled in their prestigious K-8, or (2) a student who thrived in their lesser known K-8. Which do you think high schools will prefer?

Then, consider your child’s happiness for the next nine years.

Want more input?

Vicky consults with families to help select public and private schools in San Francisco in an environment of non-judgment. Season packages include a discussion to review key decisions, such as which school to choose as a first choice, and review of the letter. Her own children have attended both public and private schools, and her elder is also in the process for high school. New clients can email to learn more about her services, or see her website to learn about her season packages.

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1 Comment

Megan Freeman
Megan Freeman
Feb 03, 2022

I appreciate your perspective and experience.

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