The big question: How do I pick the best school for my child?
The first thing to know is that regardless of if you are choosing a public or private school, whether or not you are considering particular curriculums, careful planning is compulsory. Always remember that you are looking for a school that will make the educational experience for your child and you as stress free and rewarding as possible.
To make it easier, it is advisable to write down five things that are most important to you as you search for the ideal school. As you go through the selection process, you may need to add to, revise or change some items on your list. Below are some important things for you to consider as you go through the process of choosing a school for your child.
Here are some steps for selecting the school that is right for your child:
Consider your child needs, their strengths & your family
You should start your search for the best school by thinking about what you want your child to achieve in a particular school. You are always with yourself child and so, you know them better than anyone else. What special attributes do they have? Perhaps your child has special language or learning needs that need extra attention. Again remember, you know your son or daughter better than everyone else does.
Answer questions like:
- Is a more/less structured environment better for your child?
- Would your child do excellently with more challenging and tasking work?
- Does your child excel when attention is focused on them in particular?
- Does your child like to participate in open discussions and debates?
- Is your child excelling in science or maths?
- Is your child musical drawn or artistic?
- Does your child always need extra assistance or more time to complete an assignment?
- Does your child have any special learning needs or abilities?
- Is an environment that activates creativity the best for your child?
Location of the school
The proximity of your child’s school to the living area must be given thorough thought. Answer questions like:
- Are you particular about your child to going to a school within walking distance of your house?
- Are you willing to let your child go to school by school bus?
- Are you willing to drive your child to school occasionally?
- Do you want your child to go to a school near your work place or office or close to relative’s house?
Gather information about schools
If you were looking to buy a new dress, car or refrigerator, you’d most likely talk to friends, research and ask lots of questions. In the same vein, when sourcing for schools, you need to carry out proper investigations – make phone calls, collect written reports from different schools and look for feedback from friends and family about the school. Questions like these are important:
- Does the school have a particular approach to coaching and teaching? (e.g., group work, individual skills, frequent exams)?
- If you answered yes, do you think your child will benefit from this approach?
- Does provide extra opportunities for children who need extra help with academics?
- Does the school staff communicate in a manner that suits your child?
- Are children with limited learning skills, or other special needs learning and performing well on assessments?
- How is homework given? Does it match your expectations for how much homework a child should have?
- Do you want your child to go to an all-boy or all-girl school, or a mixed gender school?
- How large are the class rooms and how may children are in a class room?
The curriculum each school uses differ one from the other. Because of this, you as a parent is left with the task to carefully find a school that reflects particular areas of focus. Parents should also consider after-school activities a school offers, for example, sports, debate clubs, drama and music clubs, and the likes.
Are the core academic subjects such as English, history, mathematics, science, arts, and foreign languages given importance?
- What extra courses are the children privy to?
- Does this school have a special curriculum for children born or bred outside the country of residence?
- Does the school offer educative and enriching courses such as technology and finance courses?
- Does the school provide for children that are specially gifted or special students?
This is one area that should not be compromised. Most parents prefer schools that are hidden or secure in a secluded estate rather than schools on the highway. Ask questions like:
- How safe is the school?
- How does the school address and handle problems with drug abuse and usage?
- In cases of violence, bullying, sexual harassment and abuse, and other forms of uncouth behavior, what is the school’s procedure to handle this?
- What measures have the school put in place to ensure safety? What are the key security measures used?
- Does the school have a relationship with the local police and is the police always on standby in case of emergencies?
Visit and observe schools
For further assurance, endeavor to contact your highlighted schools for a visit. It is advisable to visit during school hours in order to see how the school is run on a day to day basis. To get a clear idea of how the school is run, avoid visiting during the first or last week of the school term. Another way to have your questions answered adequately is to schedule a meeting with the school principal. If possible, attend a parent-teacher conference, open days or other school function that help to detail valuable information about the ethics of staff, students, and parents.
By collecting information, asking questions, relating with other parents, visiting schools, and exercising your opinions when making a choice, you can be sure your child will get the best possible education. However, it shouldn’t end here – this is truly the beginning. By getting involved in your child’s education, showing the child the many advantages of hard work, and providing additional learning opportunities both at home and in the society at large, you‘ll help your child become more intellectually appealing.