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There is no one right school

Relax, you will find the right school.

There was lots of good advice on finding a school for your child at last night's panel discussion on choosing an elementary school. Ok, Ok, so I was one of the panelists, but I'm not talking about myself here.

My fellow panelists, Martha Benoff, a certified school psychologist, and Luise Moskowitz, who is on the Outreach Committee for the Home and School Association at Greenfield Elementary, were chock full of helpful tips, which I'll share here.

Benoff started out talking about a news story she had seen recently that tracked several New York families as they sought to get their children into an elite private school there. The families believed that the preschool their children attended would set the course for the rest of their lives, putting immense pressure on 4-year-olds to perform.

Benoff urged the crowd not to adopt this mentality. "There is no one right school," she said. "There are many right schools."

She also talked about how many parents, including me, feel overwhelmed at the number of school options in Philadelphia, a feeling she calls "too muchness." It's counterintuitive, but having too many choices often induces anxiety.

So, just calm down, trust what your gut is telling you as you visit schools, and know that you will probably make the right choice in the end.

Moskowitz said people should be practical when considering schools. If the dream school for your child involves a 30-minute commute, do you really have time for that? It's about more than just avoiding  a stressful morning. Tardiness can affect your child's ability to get into other schools, she said.

Greenfield is probably the most popular choice among parents seeking to transfer their children within the Philadelphia School District. Moskowitz said the number of children that Greenfield accepts from outside its boundaries varies from year to year, but this year, the school is filling up with catchment children. She thinks only about 10 from outside the catchment will get into Greenfield.

Moskowitz also said she did not yet know how expansion plans for Greenfield, which were recently announced by the School District, would affect the school.

The discussion, which took place at the Ethical Society, was hosted by the Center City Residents Association.