8 Tips To Navigating The Private School Admissions Process

The Private school admissions process starts the day after Labor Day. To get a head start, you need to begin preparing for your child’s admission much before this date. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for the process.

1. Have an open and honest talk with your partner

Both partners need to be fully involved in the admission process of their child. Sometimes, one of them might be fully excited about getting their child admitted in a private school, while the other may not be as enthusiastic or well-informed about the process. In such families, the whole admission process can be a stressful experience since there is no agreement between the partners in the first place. So you first need to ensure that you and your partner both have the same level of commitment, expectations and enthusiasm towards securing an admission for your child in a private school. Sit together and honestly share your goals and aspirations as well as your apprehensions and fears until both of you agree on the route that you wish to take.

2. Make a Commitment of your Time

You would have to commit your time towards achieving the goal that you have set for your child’s education. Be prepared to spend a lot of time writing personal essays and completing the application forms of schools that you wish to apply to. Once the admission process begins, you would have to attend open houses, parent interviews, child interviews and school tours. You need to allocate time for all these activities. Learn more about each school through their website and other literature to have a better understanding about the admission process. Knowing about the school’s philosophy and their values will help you decide which school will be the most appropriate institution for your child’s academic and personal growth.

3. Make a Financial Commitment

Money is a factor when applying to private schools. You need to properly plan your finances to accommodate this expense. There is a standardized testing procedure that the independent schools require for admissions. This assessment is administered by the educational records bureau. There is a fee associated with this assessment. Some schools may reduce or waive the application fee and you may also apply for a fee reduction for the child assessment if the cost poses a financial burden on the family. Financial documentation will be required for this procedure. If your family is applying for financial aid, you may be required to pay a fee to process your child’s financial aid application.

4. Get Your Documents in Order

If you are requesting financial aid for your child’s education, then both partners need to provide at least three years of tax forms and W2 that shows your income. If you are divorced, separated or another partner is actively involved in raising your child or financially contributing to your child, then their tax information is also required. Schools want to be able to assess the total contribution that a family can make towards their child’s education. So having all the relevant documentation readily available will make it easier for you to provide this information when it is requested of you.

5. Communicate with Your Child’s current Pre-school

During the admission process, a private school might need to communicate with your child’s current Pre-school to get clarifications on your child’s application. If they are not aware that you are currently seeking admission in private schools, it could be awkward for you and for them if they are hearing about this for the first time. So it is good to inform the Director of your child’s current preschool that you are seeking admission in other private schools.

6. Provide Correct and Complete Contact Information

Make sure that you provide correct and complete contact information on each application form. Your home phone number, as well as work place and cell phone numbers should be specified accurately. Clear all previous messages from your answering machine so that schools can leave a message for you when you are not at home. Create a new and separate email address exclusively for school admissions so that important emails from each school do not get mixed or lost among personal and casual mails. Enter the email address correctly in the application forms and check your email regularly. If you are on social networks, enable your privacy settings to hide your profile. You don’t want your admissions Director looking through or reviewing your profile.

7. Promptly call the day after Labor Day

Thousands of parents will be calling in on the day after Labor Day to get applications from schools. Many schools start taking in calls as early as 8 am. Phones line can become quite busy on that day. Be persistent and keep trying until you get through. You would have to repeat this process for each school and therefore be mentally prepared for this. Have a pen, notepad, a few sheets of paper and a calendar handy. Having these at your disposal can make your conversations effective, short and to the point. You can also note down all the important information during your calls.

Provide the right information to each school during your calls. To avoid confusion, write down your full name, your spouse’s full name, your complete address, your regular phone number and an alternate number. Also write down your child’s full name, your child’s gender, date of birth, and the name, address and phone number of your child’s current school. These are some of the particulars that you would have to provide during each call. Having these particulars written down will help you provide the correct information every time.

8. Use Technology to Your Advantage

Many schools are going green and offer you the option of filling your applications online. They also provide parents with inquiry forms which they can use to request information from the school. Staying in touch with the school online, well before the admission process starts can give you an advantage over other parents who rely only on traditional methods for contacting the school. Most private schools have a comprehensive website that provides detailed information about their admission processes. Go through each school’s website and gather as much information as possible.

Following these powerful steps can help you get organized and approach the admission process in a more methodical and systematic manner. This will go a long way in giving your child a head start in the admission process.

12 Tips For Involving Parents in the IEP Process

As special education teachers one of our main responsibilities is to develop Individual Education Programs (IEP’s) along with a team of individuals including the child’s parents or caregivers. The process is very time consuming for Special Education teachers. It is not usual spend upwards to several hours just gathering information and getting ready to conduct the IEP meeting as well as write it. Some IEP’s are only a few pages long but others, especially for a child who needs many services, can be twenty or more pages.

The purpose of the IEP is for a team to develop goals and objectives as well as outlining services the child needs for the at least the next year. IEP’s are written annually and some require revising or writing more often.

Each individual on the team is supposed to have input into helping develop the IEP goals. The key term here is “supposed”. While some team members are more involved than others, the burden of producing and writing a correct IEP is on the Special Education teacher.

As often happens, the Spec. Ed. teacher arranges the meeting, sends out the needed notices to the participants and then will write the IEP. While the goals and objectives are usually written during the meeting itself, the Spec. Ed. teacher has a good idea as to what goals to include. She has also spent time writing the narratives for other parts of the IEP.

Team members who are invited to the meeting have little or no input into the process and will just show up to sign the document produced. Ideally, the team members who should have most of the input into the IEP are the Spec. Ed teacher, classroom teacher, key support personnel and the parents.

The struggle that most Spec. Ed. teachers face is how to get the parents to become more of a participant in the IEP. Parents along with their child are the key stake holders in developing an appropriate IEP. What can Spec. Ed teachers do to get parents more involved in the process?

Here are 12 tips for Special Ed teachers to get the parent involved in the process:

1. Prior to the IEP meeting, the Special Ed. teacher should interview the parent to see what their concerns are for their child and what goals and objectives they would like to see implemented in the IEP.

2. At least a week before the meeting, send home a list of possible goals and objectives for the parent to review and make additions to or corrections to them.

3. Probably the most important is to set a time for the meeting that is mutually agreeable to all but most especially the parent.

4. Be sure during the meeting to welcome comments and concern that the parent may have. Ask questions specifically addressed to them. Don’t let anyone interrupt them.

5. If a parent begins to speak, let them and be sure that others allow time for them to talk as well. If team members feel the need to talk among themselves while the parent is talking, ask them to go out of the room so that a parent does not have to compete with others attention.

6. Keep a steady flow of communication with the parents all the time – not just at the IEP meeting.

7. Keep the parent appraised of what is happening with their child. This means not just report card or parent conference time. This means at other times as well. This way the parent can know what is working and what isn’t working.

8. Let the parent know of successes their child has experienced as well as what things need to be done differently.

9. During the meeting be sure to acknowledge the parent as a part of the team and let the other members of the team know that what they are saying and discussing is important.

10. As teachers we get very attached to the children we work with, especially those that we work with for multiple years. It is important that we keep in mind that this child, for whom we are meeting, is not our child but belongs to the parent. We may not always agree with the parent but their wishes should be considered and acknowledged.

11. The most important skill we can develop as facilitators of meetings is to listen, listen and listen when the parent talks. This means active listening – with eyes and ears.

12. Lastly, let the parent know that you care about their child and about them as a family. Parents of children with Special Needs often need reassuring that their child is a part of the classroom, has friends and others who care for them.

Try these tips and see if they help to get parents more involved in the IEP process.