Whether you’re getting ready to enroll your child in a new school or your child’s very first school, the enrollment period should be fun, exciting, and easy for the whole family. Here are a few steps to follow when starting the process:
Step 1. Research Schools in Your Area
If your child is attending a public school and is not part of a magnet program, they are required to attend a specific school based on local school zones. But, that doesn’t mean you still don’t have options – especially if you are moving to a new area and are still deciding between different school zones or districts. You’ll want to do your research on the various pros and cons of the surrounding districts and schools. If you are considering placing your child in a charter or private school instead of your zoned public school it can also help to do some research and make a list of what features are important to you in a K-12 school. Some things to consider when researching schools for your child include:
- Does the school offer ways to easily contact faculty and other families, or does it feel like a more isolating environment?
- Who are the teachers and faculty?
- Does the school promote alliance among teachers, families, students, and staff?
- Does the school actively engage families and students with staff?
- Is it easy to communicate with teachers when needed?
- What is the student-to-teacher ratio per classroom?
- What are the values of the school?
- What is the commute time for your child?
- Does the school provide extra-curricular activities? If so, do they match your child’s interests?
- Does the school emphasize specific areas of studies such as the arts, science, mathematics, and/or sports?
- What safety and security measures are in place at the school?
Step 2. Consider The School’s Family Networking Offerings
While researching schools and school districts, it’s very important to take note of a school’s family networking offerings. Family networking provides you and your child with tools to easily connect with administrators, staff, teachers, and other families at the school.
These tools might include chat features on the website that instantly connect you with faculty and teachers to quickly get your questions answered. Or it might include a list of other parents that serve as ambassadors to the school. Another example would be a staff directory that humanizes the teachers, detailing their passions and making it easier for you to really know them.
When schools value and promote family networking and engagement, it helps the school environment feel more like a community and less isolating. It creates an alliance, which increases your child’s chances for success and growth. Not only are you able to more quickly get the information you need when you need it, but you and your child get to know other families, teachers, and faculty on a deeper level.
Step 3. Contact the School
Chances are your research left you with some questions. Contact the school to learn more about what the school offers (or doesn’t). When you do reach out to the school, check their website to see if they have a chat feature and/or family ambassadors listed that you can speak with to get your questions answered. Make sure to also take note of their staff directory – does it promote connection by humanizing the teachers?
If the school already has one or all of these systems in place, it will make the enrollment process significantly easier. Plus by speaking with an ambassador, you’ll instantly be connected with another family at the school.
Step 4. Gather the Necessary Documents
Once you’ve selected the best school for your child, it’s time to gather the documents so you can get them enrolled. All schools require some paperwork to register. Check your school’s website, family ambassador, or chat features first to see if that information is readily available. If not, then you’ll have to contact the school directly to learn more about their specific enrollment process.
After you’ve inquired about the enrollment process, you’ll need to gather the below documents:
- Application form (if required)
- Certified copy of your child’s birth certificate
- Immunization records
- Proof of residency
- Emergency contact details (for either parents or guardians)
- Proof of guardianship (if required)
If your child is transferring schools, you might also need:
- Transcript of past grades
- Teacher referrals
Sometimes the process of collecting this information can be daunting – but it doesn’t have to be this way. As mentioned, if your school’s website has a chat feature, simply send them a quick message or contact the school’s family ambassadors.
Step 5. It’s Time To Start School!
After the documents have been submitted and any necessary payments have been made, your child can officially be enrolled and begin school (for charter schools this might be during their open enrollment period and for private schools, it will vary depending on the school). By choosing a school that values community and engaging families, you and your child are much more likely to have a successful year.
At ThinK-12, we believe in developing school communities that engage families, students, faculty, staff, and community stakeholders. Through our web-based application, we provide and continually create content to engage prospective and current families, teachers, and school staff. Our technology helps keep schools and families connected through tools designed to educate, inform, and bring education stakeholders together both in the virtual and real worlds. When put into practice, the result is a welcoming, innovative educational experience that meets the needs of all stakeholders.