Questions to Ask Before Going Back to School


We are in the doggest days of summer, and that means a whole lot more than hot weather and last-minute vacations. It’s time to start thinking about the upcoming school year!

With enrollment deadlines looming, now is the time to ask yourself: Is your child's current school still the one most suited for their goals and academic needs?

Many students spent their summer getting ahead or gaining confidence in their skills through coursework and are all set with their plans for 2022-2023. For many others, thoughts are now starting to circle back to "school mode" and prepping for the new academic year to begin. Maybe your child's experience last year wasn't what you hoped it would be.

Questions to Ask Before Your Child Goes Back to School

Here are some questions to help decide whether you want to stick with your child's current school or consider other options.

Question 1: What was your biggest challenge last year?

This broad question will help you identify areas where your student's needs may have diverged from what was offered. Think about the year at both the micro and macro levels. You'll end up with a lot of additional questions as you approach this exercise. Here are a few that might come up:

  • Was the coursework too difficult, or was it not engaging enough?
  • Was appropriate support available when difficulties arose? How about opportunities to accelerate learning if the status quo was too basic?
  • Was the structure restrictive, or was there flexibility within the framework for a variety of learning styles? Would your student thrive with more or less of either?
  • Was your ambitious student frustrated by a lack of extracurricular programs or clubs and activities where their interests can blossom, or did they feel limited by "what has always worked"?

Your student’s biggest challenge may have come from a social rather than academic angle. Did your student struggle connecting with their peers? Did they feel distracted or overwhelmed in a classroom full of students to the point where focusing on schoolwork was difficult or impossible? Students with social anxiety may be hindered when they can’t control when and how much they interact with other children.

Identifying the largest roadblock to your child’s success at their current educational institution is the first step in solidifying plans for the next year.

Question 2: Was your child supported in their favorite and strongest subjects?

You wouldn’t keep a cello prodigy at a school with an underfunded band program any more than you’d keep the next Michael Phelps at a school without a swim team. What are your child's passions, and is their educational environment one that attentively and comprehensively supports the commitment that leads to the fulfillment of those dreams?

If your student’s strengths are in standard subject areas, they may be getting the support they need through a traditional curriculum. For many traditional public schools, it’s not a matter of if they want to furnish strong programs in niche disciplines. It's whether or not they can.

It all comes down to available funding, facilities, and faculty. Depending on how specialized your child’s strengths are, it may suit them better to pursue their interests in independent programs that are hindered by a full-time brick-and-mortar school schedule. Should your child choose between their passion and their education? We don't think so!

Or maybe your child is extremely bright and easily takes to and excels at all subjects in school but doesn’t have specific interests yet. Still, you want to set them on the path to success as soon as possible. A school with a rigorous gifted and driven academic program can help keep them engaged and challenged while bolstering curiosity and freedom in exploring potential skills and careers.

Question 3: Has your child’s current school prepared them for the future?

While the relevancy of this question may depend on your student’s age, you may be feeling concerned if your high school student hasn’t brought home any questions or material about college preparation, SAT or ACT testing, or general future preparedness.

It’s important for your child to receive guidance both at home and at school to prepare for what's next in the academic progression and what to expect in their post-K-12 life and career path. This includes career aptitude tests, learning from and about field experts, and developing a well-rounded high school resume.

If you suspect your child’s needs aren’t being met in this regard, it may be time to explore schools that have the capability of doing so.

Question 4: What would your child do if they weren’t in a classroom 40 hours a week?

Children already have boundless energy—what if they also had all the time in the world? 

What would they do? What would they be capable of? Could they hone their skills into becoming an Olympic-bound athlete, or a globetrotting musician

Maybe being free of a brick-and-mortar school’s walls would unlock the nomadic adventures your family’s always dreamed of. Or maybe it would finally make relocation as a military family easier.

By choosing a school with no physical boundaries, your young scholar can gain as much valuable life exposure from the world around them as they do from their classrooms and educators.

Now that all of the questions are on the table, it’s time for final consideration. Are there answers to be found at your current school, or do the solutions await you elsewhere? 

If you’re wondering how other approaches to learning in a modern world may better suit your child, Laurel Springs is here to help you explore. At Laurel Springs, you can head back to school on your terms with a premier online K–12 school that prioritizes the needs of individual students so that they can advance in academics and beyond.

If you have questions or would like to receive information about Laurel Springs School, start here.