How to choose the perfect school for your child
Have a long-term approach and think of the school as an investment you are making for your child to reap the benefits when he/she graduates from the school.
In today's digital and competitive age, finding the perfect school for your child can seem like a daunting task.
Selecting the right school for your child can make all the difference in his or her academic life and learning. The good news is that there are many options in education delivery today, as a parent you have the option to choose between different boards, private or public schools, co-ed or convent schools and the list goes on. The bad news is that the abundance of options will often leave you, as a parent in a quandary over how to choose the best school for your child. As parents, when we are given two choices, we end up looking for the third option.
It is important to know what to look for, while you are in a school selection spree to ensure your child receives the best all-round education eventually that guides him/her towards choosing deserving career choices.
Choosing the right school is an important decision
Choosing the right school can make a big difference in a child’s happiness and wellbeing, as well as how they perform in studies.
Every parent would want their child to be motivated, engaged in meaningful learning experiences and to have a clear understanding of what is being taught in the class.
As a parent, you should list down all the factors that will work the best for your child’s personality, strengths, needs and interests and choose a school which makes the best fit.
Instead of fitting the child to the school, choose a school that fits your child‘s personality.
The popular adage “one size fits all” approach results in students lose interest in what is taught in classes, leading to boredom, frustration and negative performance levels due to the monotonous curriculum. Choosing the best fit school is thus an important consideration for a happy and enriching academic learning of your child.
Here are some important factors you may consider while you are making the important decision:
1. Choosing a School based on Affiliation
Gone are the days when the state boards and CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) ruled on school affiliations. Today, there is a wide range of options, like the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), The International Baccalaureate (IB)/International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) curricula followed by different schools spread across the length and breadth of the country.
It is important to choose the right curriculum based on your occupational responsibilities, surprised? Read on why:
o If you are a parent who is in a transferable urban job and you need to change schools for your child every time you are transferred then go for a CBSE or an ISCE board school for they are there in every major city across the country.
o If you are a working parent in government job involving frequent transfers to multiple tier II/III towns go for a CBSE board school, as you won't find ISCE schools all over a country especially in the smaller towns where it still is a rare concept.
o If you working in a job/project that has probabilities of you/ your spouse shifting overseas, then opt for IGSCE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) board since the curriculum delivered is accepted across geographies.
2. Academic Factors
After you have chosen the board curriculum, you should look at the academic factors, which consist of the learning approach adopted and the results delivered by the schools you have shortlisted. Let’s discuss them one by one.
A. The Learning Approach: You need to be sure of the learning methods used by the school, whether they are activity based (e.g., group projects, workshops etc.) or theory based (individual performance, frequent testing etc.) learning, how big are the classrooms how strong is the infrastructure, apart from this the following questions you need to find answers to narrow down your choices:
i. Does the school provide extra support in form of extra classes for examination preparations?
ii. How qualified are the faculty and the school staff? You can get in touch with parents of current or past students who are already studying in the same school for an idea.
iii. What are the homework and class teaching ratio? Does it match an everyday learning approach?
B. School Results and Performance: Amongst the different schools listed after following the above steps, you should research how many students in those schools have cleared prestigious examinations, how is the pass percentage at board examinations and how active are the school students in the district, state and national-level academic competitions. Though it may seem an irreverent task if you are selecting a school for junior level education needs for your child, these factors prove very important in the long run. The other factors you may consider are:
i. How do the school's board and other exam scores compare to those of other schools? In the past few years, has this result risen or declined?
ii. What special achievements, awards or recognition the school or its students have received?
iii. How many students are selected among those applying for admissions?
3. Extra- Curricular factors
It is a widely accepted fact that extracurricular activities play an indispensable role in the overall development of children and develop their leadership and social skills and boost their personality.
You should find what extra-curricular activates are encouraged in the school’s like foreign languages, creative art, music, dance or sports sessions giving your child an essential break from his/her long tiring classes.
Extracurricular activities also help to maintain an interest towards academics as well. Extra-curricular activities practised at the school level have gone a long way to foster alternate career avenues for many students and boost their personality too.
So while choosing the school for your child, you should make sure that the school is not just bound to the academics but also lays an equal importance towards its extracurricular activities.
4. Financial Obligations
Financial obligations and payments play an important role in school selection. While the minimum investment for an ICSE school is Rs 50,000 per annum for junior classes, for IGSCE, it goes up to over 1 lakh per annum. And this is not just a one-time commitment; it is rather a recurring investment which keeps increasing year after year at an average rate of inflation i.e. around 10%.
With education becoming expensive year on year, as a parent you should start investing for your child's education as early to continue till the age of 24 or so till your child becomes financially independent.
Write down your family’s expenses apart from the educating your child, identify and study the schools that match your financial outlay. Make an informed decision and be financially prepared while you select the school.
5. Safety Concerns
As a parent worrying about the safety of your child is indispensable. The questions you need to check are:
i. Transportation: With the fatalities of rash driving appearing in the newspapers as a daily occurrence, how the school fares in this factor is an important consideration. You should check whether the school runs its own buses, or has its own transportation arrangements to ferry students to and from their homes.
ii. School Premises: Where is the school located, is it at a commercial hub or in a residential space, what kind of shops/ commercial activities (if any) run around the school? How many eating or recreational joints are around for a quick student gateway? You need to check all this before filling that admission form.
iii. Proximity to Home: Choose a school that needs the least or minimum travel time for your child. Every-day travelling can take up much of the precious play or home-study or relaxation time of your child and as a parent, you would not want that.
All set & done! How and when to fill the admission form??
A. For New/First Time Admissions:
If you are a parent of a tiny tot and filling that admission form after your exhaustive research then worry not! There are many others who are doing the exact same thing as you.
Both Private and Public schools have their own admission procedures, most of which have gone online. The general procedures you will have to follow are:
1. Keep a keen eye when the admissions forms are available and what are their costs, different schools have different dates and modes of form availability. Some may ask you to fill online, while some may require offline physical form submission at the school.
2. After you have filled, and your form gets accepted by the school, be prepared for the interviews. Interviews happen for both the parents and the kids. Be sure you are well versed, so is your child.
3. Wait till the Results are out! The school may publish the list of those admitted in its premises and/or make them available online, keep checking.
4. After your child’s name features in the list, Voila! Your one task is done! Arrange for fees payment, books, stationery and dress for your child, fix the transportation and brace yourself to see him/her going to the school.
B. Admissions based on Transfer/ School change due to better education or competitive preparations
These admissions happen in the middle of the classes, or in the middle of the academic session. As a parent, you need to approach the school authorities directly for admissions and be present with your child for an interview usually taken by the senior faculties and senior administration. These admissions happen on a case to case basis and different schools have different admission procedures.
As the youngest Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai puts it,
“One child, One Teacher, One Book and One pen, can Change the World”
Education is the asset which stays with your child forever and selecting the perfect and the most appropriate school is just the beginning of his/her journey towards a secured and a happy future.