How to choose a great school without going nuts

All of those Facebook photos of your friends' kids on their first day of school are, of course, adorable, but if you have a two- or three-year-old it can also send you into an anxiety spiral. Oh my god, that's going to be my kid next year! And I haven't even started searching for a school yet!

First, breathe. You have enough time to find the right school. But spare yourself the headaches of navigating public and private schools on your own and let NPN help you. Trust us, we're experts on this.

Here's how to get started:

1. Attend our Preschool & Elementary School Fair. Hundreds of parents mix and mingle with hundreds of public and private schools from all over the city. Got an infant? It is never too early to start doing the legwork on finding the right fit for your family. These fill up FAST. RSVP now if you want a guaranteed slot. RSVP to the Annual Fair on Oct. 16 here

2. Use My Directory. This second-to-none school directory can help you search for schools by the criteria that matter most to you. You can save up to 30 schools, export the data to a spreadsheet and bring it with you to the NPN School Fair. It'll even show you a Google map with all of the school so you can see them in proximity to your home. 

3. Join us for CPS 101. What's a magnet school? What's selective enrollment? What's the difference between classical and gifted? What schools need a test for entry? How do lotteries and waitlists work? Do you know all the answers to these questions? Didn't think so. Educate and empower yourself. The CPS 101 offered at our Oct. 16 school fair is sold out, but don't despair—we will be offering another one very soon!

4. Ask around. Talk to your neighbors, cruise the NPN discussion forum, introduce yourself to a school's "Friends of" group. Ask real people about their personal experiences with the facilities, curriculum, faculty and administrators. 

5. Go on school tours. Curious about your neighborhood CPS school? Heard good things about a private school but want to see it for yourself? Contact the school to schedule a tour. Often, your guide will be the school's principal so you'll be able to get a sense of his or her style and philosophy—and ask a ton of questions. Plus, seeing the school while class is in session will give you an idea of how your child would fit in.

Related articles:

9 questions parents should be asking schools

The ABCs of applying to CPS preschools

7 reasons you should go to the NPN School Fair


Posted on August 26, 2014 at 2:57 PM