How to evaluate which South Tampa elementary school is right for your family

Aug 24, 2021
Parenting, Resources

You survived the first week of preschool. Cue the confetti! But if you’re in South Tampa, then it’s unlikely that your preschool continues to Kindergarten. Most private elementary schools start the recruiting process in October and send acceptance letters by February, so just as you’re completing the enrollment paperwork and adjusting to the new school schedule, it’s time to consider options for next year when your learner transitions to elementary school.

But where do you even start? When I talk to parents about selecting an elementary school that is the right fit for their family, I start with these questions:

Does the school’s philosophy on education align with your own? This is one of the most important questions to answer because it’s foundational to the entire elementary school experience. To make this abstract question more concrete, ponder these additional questions.
• How do you envision your child spending their day at school?
• Do you expect that learning will be hands-on and include self-discovery or do you prefer a more traditional approach of reading and lecture?
• Do you want character-building to be a component of the curriculum or keep that as a sacred part of your family development at home?
• Are the classrooms flexible to allow for different learning styles and accommodate learners to go at their own pace?
• How structured do you expect the classroom to be? Does your learner work better in a rigid and formal environment? What’s your preference on school dress code/uniforms?

Next, it's important to consider culture. Does the culture of the elementary school feel like a place where your family would fit in? Not only will your child spend years on campus with the school’s faculty, but as a parent, you will develop relationships with teachers, coaches and fellow families. The culture says a lot about any organization, especially a school, because it speaks to the underlying beliefs and behaviors of the people in that organization. Furthermore, your child will become part of the culture, so you want to make sure it’s one that you align with and welcome its influence on your elementary-aged children through their most formative years. Some additional questions to consider as it relates to school culture:
• Does the school offer a variety of cultures and perspectives?
• Will your child be comfortable being him/herself?
• Would you choose to be friends with the families who also attend this school?
• Do you see your core values represented in the core values of the school?
• If there was an issue with your child, do you feel confident that it would be handled in a way that meets your expectations?
• Do you expect teachers to be inspiring and motivating or great lecturers who can keep order?
• If you were in elementary school, would you wake up excited to go to this school every day?

Lastly, if the elementary school aligns with your education philosophy and you feel good about the school’s culture, then you should make sure the location, hours and before/aftercare offerings work for your family. Typically, you should select a school no more than four miles from your house and with hours that are compatible with your family’s normal schedule.

If you are still overwhelmed by the considerations, then it might be easiest to take a look at the school environment your child is in now. Is your learner currently thriving in an environment that’s flexible and collaborative with many freedoms or a more traditional classroom with structure and boundaries? If your learner is struggling in her current classroom, then spend some time over the next few weeks uncovering exactly why that’s the case. Once you have a clear understanding of the type of school that works best for your family, then finding the local option becomes much easier.

Luckily, South Tampa has a lot of great elementary school across the public, charter and private spectrum. They have strong reputations, high credentials and seasoned staff. The elementary school you join will become a pivotal part of this next season of life for your family, so it’s important to evaluate your options and make the best choice for your family.

To help you get started with all the South Tampa options, check out our South Tampa Elementary School Matrix.

If you’d like to learn more or think Apollo Academy may be a good fit for your family, schedule a call with us!