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The average child spends 6 to 8 hours at school, so it’s important that you choose one that can provide the sort of environment where he or she feels comfortable. At the same time, you have to think of their academic performance and how it will impact their future. The good news is that you have lots of options. The bad news is that you have so many options it can become quite overwhelming.
There’s no doubt that this is a high-pressure decision, so let’s go through some of the things you should consider when choosing a school for your kids.
What Are Your Options?
As we mentioned, you have a lot of options to consider. Many parents decide to send their kids to a public school in the neighbourhood. This has some significant advantages. First of all, the commute won’t be long. Second of all, it means that they’ll be going to school with kids they already know and they can make friends more easily. You’ll also know the other parents so it won’t be hard to get in contact.
Of course, this all depends on whether you live in an area with a good public school. You’ll have to check test scores, what subjects the school emphasizes, dress code, how disciplinary issues are handled and extracurricular options.
Then there are private schools which can be religious such as Hilbert schools or secular. Private schools, in general, have more resources, better teacher to student ratio and usually have a good reputation for academic performance so attending one can significantly increase your child’s chances of getting into a good college or university. Whether you choose to send them to a religious or secular private school is up to personal preferences.
There are a lot of factors to take into account here, so we’re going to group them in their own category – practical considerations. This includes the cost of the school and whether you can afford it. You can also look into scholarship programs and see if your child is eligible.
Then you have to think about transportation. How far is the school and how can your child get there? Do you have to drive them yourself, or does the school offer transportation options? If not, will you be able to fit the commute into your schedule?
Even more important is the school’s curriculum. Here you’ll want to check test scores and what subjects are offered. Bigger schools tend to have a broader curriculum and more options when it comes to extracurricular activities. You’ll also want to see if the school offers accelerated learning programs and additional support if needed.
Should Your Child Attend School With Their Siblings and Friends?
Another aspect to consider is whether you should send your child to the same school as their siblings. When you think about it, it would certainly make life easier. You’ll already know the teachers and admission are usually easier for siblings.
Also, if they go to the same school as their friends or siblings, it will reduce some of the anxiety and it will be much easier for them to adjust to a new environment.
While schools can offer similar curriculums and facilities, they can vary considerably in terms of culture and philosophy. Some are more focused on test scores and college admissions, so they’ll apply more academic pressure on their students. In contrast, others avoid pressure and focus more on promoting individuality through artistic pursuits. While some have very little tolerance even for minor infractions to discourage rule-breaking, others are much laxer.
By now, you may have a pretty good idea of what kind of environment is most suitable for your child. Most schools describe their culture and philosophy on their website and pamphlets. You can also find out their views on specific issues by asking questions like:
- What steps will the school take if my child doesn’t achieve the predicted test scores?
- What disciplinary actions are taken for minor infractions like forgetting your homework?
You’ll also get a sense of the school environment by visiting the school and observing how the kids behave. Some schools like to encourage their students to express themselves so they’ll tend to be loud and playful, while other schools prefer their students to be quiet and learn self-discipline.
Admission protocols can vary from just a few questions to full interviews and entrance examinations. Especially among private schools, admission interviews can be more thorough since the schools that are more focused on academic achievement try to choose only the brightest students. Schools that are geared towards self-expression and extracurriculars will also try to choose students that match their culture and philosophy.
We recommend that you don’t try to get your child into a school that doesn’t suit their personality. Kids are happier and get better results when they’re in an environment where they feel comfortable. Coaching can help with the admission process, but you have to think about how your child will feel going to that school every day for several years. For example, it’s not a good idea to coach an introverted child to seem more extraverted so they can get into a school that tailors to extraverted kids.
Once you find a school that matches your criteria and seems well-suited for your child’s interests and personality, you’ll want to visit so you can meet the faculty and staff, as well as see the classrooms. This will also give you a sense of the level of transparency. You should be invited to speak with the principal, teachers, and the other parents. While talking to the administration team, ask them about their policies and procedures, and see how they answer. The level of transparency will also give you insight regarding the school’s views on parental involvement and how the staff related to the students.
It’s also very important that you find out more about the teachers. You should talk to them in person, but you should also look online for their educational background, work history, and reviews.