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Choosing the right school for your child

21 June
Posted by:
Michael Grose

One of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child is the opportunity to get a quality education. But as with any major decision, you need to do their homework first.

Selecting a school for your child can be a complicated, even stressful process. Most parents want to send their child to the best school available but it’s important to choose a school that’s the right fit for your child and for you as a parent

All schools strive for excellence in education, yet in these days of educational choice schools also strive to be different. Even in the public system there are many differences between schools that are in the same locality.

Work out what you want

There are so many things to consider when trying to work out the best school for your child, so it helps to draw up a list of criteria to guide you. Some common considerations include; school location, single sex or coeducational education, school size, class size and the types of programs offered.

Many parents choose local primary school so their kids can build solid networks in their local community and look further afield for secondary schools, where public transport is required. The single sex versus co-educational debate seems to be more of an issue when choosing secondary schools.

There are solid educational arguments for both types of settings, so it pays to do some research and consider your child’s needs, their learning preferences and as well as their capacities to work well in the different settings.

Visit the schools

While all schools offer a broad and comprehensive curriculum, most will have some type of speciality or particular curriculum focus.

Make a shortlist of the schools that meet your criteria then collect information about the schools.

Read brochures and check out prospective school’s websites for practical information such as types of programs, languages taught, assessment techniques and any special school focus such as environmental education program or music programs.

Make sure you attend open days, and arrange for a school visit, if possible, when the school is operating. Look around and see if most children are busy and happily engaged in learning. Check to see if children are happy and relaxed around teachers. Get a ‘gut’ feel about the school’s atmosphere so you can make sure the school you choose is a safe and appropriately challenging place for your child.

Meet the principal or representative

Arrange to meet the educational leader of your child’s prospective school to find out a little more about the programs offered, and the life of the school in general.

Find out about specialist classes for kids who need extra help, the school’s discipline policy and even how your child would be made welcome in the first few weeks of school. Ascertain during the meeting what sets this particular school apart from others in the area.

There’s a more fundamental question to ask: “What sets your school apart from others in the area?”

Get the match right

While educational factors are usually paramount when choosing a school, it’s also important that you get the right philosophical and social match for you and your child. After all, your child will be at school for many years so you both need to feel comfortable with the types of parents and kids at the school.

Try to get to know about each school’s overall values and objectives and make sure that you are able to put these into practice at home. If the teachers at your child’s school are trying to promote a sense of independence in kids then it’s important that you support their efforts and do the same at home. The important educational lessons kids learn at school about attitude, behaviour and values will be more likely to be learned when they are supported at home.

That’s why it’s important to do your homework before choosing the best school for you and your child so you get the best possible match.

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