How to choose the best school for your child.
Finding the perfect school can be a daunting and time-consuming process but if you tackle it logically, it doesn’t have to be. These five steps will help you find the right fit for your child.
Think honestly about your child’s needs, interests and goals.
Having a clear picture of who your child is and what their needs and interests are sets you up to make a good decision. Think about where they may want to be at the end of their schooling career as this can have an impact on your choice.
Also consider whether your child would benefit from a single sex or co-educational schooling environment. Often academic performance, particularly for girls, is improved at single gender schools; however, a co-ed setting provides students with a more realistic experience of the world.
You might also want to contemplate sending your children to different schools. Some students benefit from the independence and freedom to define their own identity in the absence of their sibling. Remember that what may be right for one child may not be right for the other.
Be aware of the schools’ specialities and areas of expertise.
Schools can be as distinctive as the students who attend them, so ensure that you have a sound understanding of the strengths and advantages of each school.
Some schools offer comprehensive sporting or musical programs, while others focus more on academic achievements. Similarly, a number of schools have extensive support departments for students with learning difficulties or specialise in catering to ESL students.
Do your research.
The better informed you are, the better prepared you are to make a decision.
To find out more about a school, look at their website, request copies of their annual reports and student handbooks, email or phone to ask any specific questions you may have that aren’t addressed in their promotional materials, make an appointment to meet with the principal in person, and look at the My School website to view the school’s results and other key statistics.
Take a school tour.
Facts and statistics give you a strong impression of a school, but the best way to work out if a school is right for you and your child is to physically go there.
Most schools offer guided tours for prospective students and their families and taking one is a great way to get a real insight into the daily life of the school. Importantly, you get the opportunity to see how students learn and teachers teach, have a chance to inspect the premises and facilities, and can experience the atmosphere of the school for yourself.
Ask your child what they want.
The best way to ensure your child is happy at school is to involve them in the process of selecting it. When a child feels their opinions are valued and their preferences are accepted they will not only feel more positive about school, they are also more likely to excel because they have taken the first step towards ownership of their education and, eventually, their future.