SELECTING THE RIGHT SCHOOL - THE QUESTIONS TO ASK
Selecting the right school for your child, is probably one of the most difficult decisions parents have to make and so it should be. If the decision is made quickly and without too much consideration, chances are, parents are making the decision based on convenience or tradition and are not taking into account the special and unique child in question. Since the Covid19 crisis struck, parents have had to deal with far more school-related issues than ever before and some might be considering a completely different approach in 2021 and let’s face, there seem to be many more options available.
Start with the child, not the school.
STEP 1 KNOW YOUR CHILD
My child is an individual and is unique – will the school value and appreciate that once you’ve signed the contract? What kind of environment will suit your child and how they learn, i.e. small, unstructured vs large, structured. Is your child independent and conscientious or would he/she need more attention and time to complete a task or assignment? Consider a few more questions.
Does your child need an environment that fosters creativity?
Is your child a very sociable person or an introvert?
Is your child musical or artistic?
Is there any reason that might prevent your child from learning in a traditional schooling environment?
STEP 2: CONSIDER YOUR FAMILY SITUATION
Your family is different from everyone else’s. Here you would need to consider your budget, travelling distance to and from school, are there siblings that could go to the same school and would you have time to be involved in any school-related activities, i.e. PTA meetings? If you share parenting responsibilities with a partner/spouse or caregiver, consider their input so that the decision is made by both parents and the child.
STEP 3: GATHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE SCHOOLS Decide on your non-negotiables and write them down. These are the issues that you will not compromise on, i.e. co-ed vs single sex, religious affiliation, public or independent school. Contact the schools you are interested in and make an appointment for a visit or at the very least, ask for a virtual tour or book an opportunity to speak to the academic head. Take a drive past the school and have a look at whether the grounds and campus are well-looked after and maintained. Look at their social media platforms and read the reviews. Try and speak to other parents. Go to their website and read about their founding philosophies, values, guiding principles, etc.
What kind of organisation are they, i.e. NPO, private company,
Who else are they affiliated with?
Does the school value the wider curriculum or just focus on getting pupils to pass tests in the core subjects.
Are the arts, music and drama valued and is entrepreneurship encouraged?
Find out about the following:
Facilities and services –
STEP 4: GO INSIDE THE SCHOOLS
Get a feel for the place. Contact the schools you are interested in and make an appointment for a visit. If possible, tour the schools during regular school hours and visit a few classes. Avoid visiting schools during the first or last week of a term in order to get a realistic sense of how the school operates. Take note of your first impressions. Is the school secretary helpful and friendly? Is the school orderly and neat? What do the bulletin boards look like? Do the students appear to be courteous, happy, and disciplined?
Maybe you are considering homeschooling your child. Have you identified curriculum materials for your child, and how much they will cost? Are you planning to follow a boxed curriculum or design your own curriculum? Is there a support group of homeschoolers near you?
Are you considering a virtual or online school? Check what educational qualification/s the owner/owners has and what curriculum is being used? What external exams will students write and what will your role as the parent be? Is there an organised schedule or timetable and how much of the time is online with LIVE teaching, as opposed to pre-recorded lessons and material ? How much is self-study?
COMPILED BY: PHILIPPA FABBRI (EDUCATION CONSULTANT) – 083 3608 468 PHILIPPA@ELSEN.CO.ZA