They say it “takes a village” to raise a child and this was my driving force when researching childcare options for my newborn baby last spring. And the choices for childcare, I soon discovered, were abundant! My husband and I talked to countless colleagues for testimonials about their own childcare experiences. We called several more providers for phone interviews and for the ones that interested us most, we scheduled in-person site visits. We looked at many things in making our evaluation – size, safety, cost, qualifications of employees, philosophies on early childhood education, and daily programming. This was an enormous decision for our family that we did not take lightly.
I know I am not alone in my daycare search due diligence. And on the other end of the spectrum, it seems as though families put comparable consideration into college choice. Why is it, then, that so few families in the greater Harrisburg area seem to put the same thoughtfulness into their children’s formal “K through 12” education? I can only speak based on my own interactions with friends, family, and neighbors, but am surprised that these smart, caring, engaged parents – the same ones who spent hours making a daycare decision for their own little ones – don’t consider education beyond the local public school district.
What is my purpose in telling you this? To remind our readers that each and every family in the Harrisburg region, Central Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth, and the United States as a whole – has a choice in their child’s education. Take the time to understand your options and their access and affordability. Consider non-public options through state and local organizations, such as the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools, the Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools, and broader organizations, like the National Association of Independent Schools. Looking to compare public, public charter, religious, and independent schools? Try something like GreatSchools as a starting point.
Above all, take the time to figure out the skills, interests, and passions of your child, and explore schools that excel in these areas. Take the time to visit schools and learn about their communities, their traditions, and the character traits and learning outcomes they seek to instill in their students. I guarantee you will come away from your search empowered with the possibilities of choice and with a clearer idea of the fantastic education options our region has to offer.
Need ideas on how to search out the best school for your family’s educational goals? Reach out to the Academy to learn more about our school and other public, private, independent, and charter schools in the area.