For all parents, the choice of which school to send their children to is one of the most important decisions they’ll have to make. It’s probably even more important than – if not at least as important as – deciding which house to purchase or where the family will reside. Your children’s school plays a
For all parents, the choice of which school to send their children to is one of the most important decisions they’ll have to make. It’s probably even more important than – if not at least as important as – deciding which house to purchase or where the family will reside. Your children’s school plays a very important role in shaping their thinking and mindset. This can go a long way in enabling your kids for their future.
There’s no known science in choosing the right school, and there are no hard and fast rules. There are a lot of good schools to choose from. In the past, parents didn’t have anyone to turn to but their gut feeling and their friends’ recommendations. Those are still good sources.
Here are several suggestions and tips on how you can go about choosing the right school for your kids.
1. Find A Good Fit for Your Child
The first thing that you have to consider when choosing the right school for your kids is that children aren’t all the same, so you have to look for a learning environment that’s a good fit for your kids. You have to keep in mind that each child is gifted, peculiar, and has a unique set of traits and characteristics. They also have their own temperament and set of preferences. What will work for your son might not work for your daughter.
Here are a few basic things that you have to consider:
- What kind of talents, aptitude, preferences, or likes your child shows early on?
- How has your child shown ways of learning under varying settings?
- Are there any special things that you want your child to learn?
- Do you have specific concerns about schedules and activities?
Whether it’s your child’s first school or they’re moving to a new school, you still have to make sure that it would be a good fit for your children.
2. Choosing An Area of Concentration or Subject Focus
There are schools that offer a general scope of studies, with no special concentration given to any specific subjects or courses. But there are schools which give added emphasis on certain subjects or provide additional concentration on particular areas.
For example, science schools would tend to put emphasis on sciences and math. Arts schools would provide special curricula in the arts, performing arts, and music. There are also technical schools that provide a dual track in general academics and technical subjects.
There are also schools that would like to give their students a global outlook and preparedness for international business by requiring their students to learn several foreign languages in their primary grades. Some parents are more concerned that their children should have the same religious beliefs that they do, so they look for this in a school.
3. Check Their Test Scores
You should also check for the school’s performance in standardized tests. It’s true that their student’s test scores don’t necessarily describe the whole picture about the competence or effectiveness of a school. But test scores are still an important metric. They’re an objective indicator of how students at that specific school are doing academically.
Don’t take these tests as an indicator of how your own child would perform in these tests. Your child has his or her own academic aptitude and potential. Given the right motivation, learning routines, preparation, review, assessment, and coaching, your child might just score past the top of the charts.
You should take these tests more as an indicator of how the students at that specific school performed for that particular year. However, test score averages over a longer period should be taken to indicate the school’s performance in managing the learning environment of their students. This is one of the metrics that should have some weight when you make your decision about where to send your children.
4. Make A List Of Features
Try to be as objective as possible even though you may already have a specific school or two, and that you’re already biased for or leaning towards where you want to enroll your children. Make a list of the specific features that you’d like to see in the school where you’d be sending your children. They don’t have to be existing for real in any of your options. It can be some sort of a wish list.
The website of the U.S. Department of Education lists down some of the things which every school should ideally have. Here are some of the basics which make any school an effective and competent learning institution:
- Parents and teachers have high expectations of the students’ academic performance
- The school has great teachers who are committed to molding each child
- The staff aren’t just nice and friendly, but even take it upon themselves to look after each child’s welfare when the parents aren’t around
- They have a vibrant parents-teachers community
- They have a rigorous curriculum, combining academics and extracurricular activities.
5. Visit The School
You shouldn’t be content with making a decision about which school to send your children based only on the pictures you’ve seen on their websites, or the articles you’ve read about them on the internet. These are indeed good indicators of a school’s capability to provide an enabling and stimulating learning environment, especially if coming from reputable sources. But they won’t give you an in-depth appreciation for the school, or a sense of whether they’re the right one for your children.
Go and visit the school. There’s nothing like going to the school campus itself to get an on-the-ground, first-hand, personal feel of the school. Don’t skip this part even if you have a busy schedule on most days. Remember that your children will be spending a good part of their day every school day based on the decision you’ll be making. It’s the place where your child’s thinking will be shaped, their character molded, and social skills developed.
It would be a good idea to see for yourself what the school campus looks like. While you’re there, try to talk to the faculty or staff, and maybe some of the students, too. It would be nice if you could ask for a scheduled meeting with the school director or administrator.
6. Prepare And Ask Your Questions
After you’ve done the previous suggestions, it’s still quite possible that there would still be some doubts lingering on your mind. Don’t hesitate to ask questions from the school officials or from your friends or colleagues who might have a child enrolled in one of the schools you’re considering. Here are some questions which you might want to start with:
- How are the teachers trained, assessed, and supported?
- How are behavior problems handled and managed?
- How much homework is given to students?
Since teachers play a very crucial role in shaping the mindset and thinking of their young students, it’s important to know what kind of support they’d be getting from the school administration. Teachers are often overworked and underpaid, yet they keep on doing what they do often no longer counting whether the hours they spend checking papers, tests and homework are paid for. But the school itself should have a program of support for its faculty.
7. Sit Down With The Principal
The school principal is one of the most important persons you’ll ever have to speak with concerning the choice of which school to send your children to. Try to ask for an appointment or a scheduled meeting with the principal. It would be better if you could also have a ready list of your questions and concerns for this meeting. Ask the principal how teachers manage their classes and monitor the individual welfare and performance of their students.
You can also ask the principal, for instance, how they handle and manage instances or cases of bullying in their school, whenever this issue arose, or if it did arise in the past. School bullying is a very serious and important issue. A lot of students who have experienced being bullied by their classmates and peers often don’t tell their parents right away about what they’re going through in school. You should try to get a straight answer about this from the principal.
8. Attend Parents-Teachers Conferences
One of the most important aspects of education that’s often overlooked is that education is a job not only of the teachers but more importantly a joint responsibility of parents and teachers. Most schools hold parents-teachers conferences to provide a forum where parents can raise concerns about their children’s education, and where teachers can communicate to parents their concerns about their individual students’ performance and behavior.
It would be best if you could attend one of these conferences and meetings even though you don’t yet have a child enrolled in the school that you’re checking out. This will give you a more in-depth understanding of how the school pursues its role of providing an enabling and stimulating learning environment for its students. It’s also an opportunity to meet some parents and ask them for their views and opinions about the school.
First Day Of School
Every parent is probably just as nervous about their choice of school for their kids as their kids are excited (and maybe just as nervous) about their first day of school. There’s no easy way to go about this, but the suggestions and tips in this article could be of some help in your search for the school that’s right for your children.