How to Find and Select the Right School for Your Child (For Parents and Guardians)
By Urvi Tandon How do you pick the best school for your child? Whether you are choosing a public or private school or homeschooling, whether or not you are paying tuition, careful planning is a must. The following sections have questions for you to consider, with workspace for you to write down your thoughts, as you ... Continue Reading
By Urvi Tandon
How do you pick the best school for your child? Whether you are choosing a public or private school or homeschooling, whether or not you are paying tuition, careful planning is a must. The following sections have questions for you to consider, with workspace for you to write down your thoughts, as you go through the process of choosing a school for your child. Remember, you are looking for a school that will make the educational experience for your child and you as rewarding as possible.
Selecting a good school for your child is an important decision. The school-hunting process can turn out to be a nightmare if you do not do a thorough research.
I am often asked by parents about how I went about choosing a school for my child. Well, there are no secrets to this. Look beyond the private or public school label. You cannot actually know how good or bad the school is or how it is governed. Private and public sector schools can be lousy and horrible. I went to a public school in Ohio that was good for academics but with no racial, ethnic or economic diversity. My cousin went to a public school in Virginia that was on record a good school with children from diverse backgrounds, but in practice wasn’t what it proclaimed to be! So relying solely on labels is a huge risk.
When I started hunting a school for my child, I started to attend school fairs and orientation sessions. I did not rely only on school fairs and orientation sessions. I searched online and managed to get some data about the school, like its demographics and performance of the students. Some websites provide parents’ reviews about schools. I also spoke to neighbors, family members and friends whose children attended local schools. I even asked teachers for their frank opinions about which schools they would be interested in to send their kids. This was definitely hard work, but worth all the effort!
The next thing I did is I went for a test-drive. I checked out the schools I was interested in on a regular school day. I asked the teacher if I could attend the classroom session for some time so that I could observe the class and get a fair sense of how the class progressed. I wanted to check how the students respond and how the teacher checks for their understanding. The idea is to remain as unobtrusive as possible in the classroom so that you blend with the other students in the room. It is also a good idea to ask the teachers if they can talk to you after their class.
My husband would also do what I did. Later on, we would compare our notes and discuss the good and the bad points about all the schools we had checked out. This helped us to decide on a single school. Be diligent and do your homework properly before you choose a school. Remember there is no perfect school.
Selecting the Best School for Your Child
Choosing the right school is an important decision for a parent and for a child. Making the correct decision will ensure your children lifelong learning and possibly bright futures. So do a thorough research before you enroll your children in a school you deem fit. Here are a few tips to help you select the right school.
The rapport between the child and teacher is crucial
The connection between the child and the teacher is very important. Your child is usually surrounded by loving people at home like parents, grandparents, older siblings, cousins or a caretaker. So it is important to look for a preschool teacher who loves and understands each child’s individual needs. The best thing to do is engage in a conversation with the prospective teacher. As you converse with her or him, evaluate them. See if they will be able to talk about a student’s strengths and areas of improvement.
A good school inculcates good reading habits in children. This is especially required in the early formative years of a child. Hence look for books that are used. See if the school has a good library and if there is some time allotted for reading in the children’s daily study schedule. Check if the teachers set aside time for reading and storytelling.
All children need breaks. This applies to adults too. Check if the school has ample space for playgrounds and for other physical activities. Studies have shown that breaks for some physical activity like aerobics help in increasing cognitive functioning. A half an hour break or more helps in reinvigorating stressed minds of children. Hence a recess is essential.
Math is an important subject. Your children should be made familiar with math concepts. It is not wise to wait to teach math until children are older. Teachers in preschool should discuss basic math concepts with students like greater than, lesser than, smaller, bigger, etc. Look out for teachers who are enthusiastic about math. You do not require a teacher who is scared of math or dislikes it. As a parent, you can follow up on math when your children come home.
Look beyond teachers
Teachers play an important role in a child’s life. There is no doubt about it. It is good to look for schools that provide teachers with mentors. They will be able to provide the much necessary guidance to children.
How to Find the Right School for Your Child
The school-hunting process can be stressful for many parents. Many parents feel stressed by just thinking about it. We have a few tips for you that will hopefully reduce the stress associated with it.
Understand your family and child’s needs
Every parent will want their child to be enrolled in the best school. First take into account your finances. Do you prefer a high-end private school, a public or a government school? Do you prefer to enroll your child in a school that emphasizes on textbook learning or a mix of textbook learning and other curricular activities? Some schools take children on camps or field trips; some schools teach using audio-visual aids. Some children may have special needs. They may require more attention. Not all schools are equipped to provide all those services. See what suits your child the most and then take the final decision.
Explore the different methodologies
Schools may adhere to different teaching methodologies. Parents should research on the different methodologies used in the prospective school to get a fair idea of what is in store for the child. Some schools may follow a conventional teaching methodology while others may adhere to an innovative teaching methodology. A few schools may follow a balanced methodology.
Acquire as much information as possible
Acquire as much information as possible about the institutes you are interested in. See if the school matches up to the potential your child has. Start with nearby schools in your area, and then collect information about other schools too that are not in your vicinity. Ask your friends, neighbors or colleagues about schools. They may have their children studying in some schools. You can also talk to students of a school to get more insights. Go through a school’s website or brochure that details its mission, policies, rules, etc.
Ask relevant questions
It is important to ask relevant questions to prospective institutes. Ask the school what they expect from their students and how they are working toward achieving the goal. You can ask a few questions like How do you track a teacher’s performance, Are the teachers trained regularly, How is the homework load, How does the school handle children with behavioral problems, Does the school have mentors, Does the school have counselors etc.
Do not make assumptions
Parents may get judgmental by listening to the views shared by a set of known people. Word of mouth information may make you biased. So use your head.