When kids finish their preschooling, it’s time for parents to feel anxious and tensed about getting admission into the mainstream school. There are many schools around with variety of features. To zero down upon a couple of schools is the first big task, and then to get admission in the desired one is the second monumental task. Sometimes, parents don’t think much and go for schools in which majority of kids from the society go. Sometimes the decision is based more on the status symbol syndrome. But selecting a school on the basis of outside influence is perhaps not a very idea.
To decide upon a school, you need to be sure what kind of school you want for your child. And the latter depends on your choices, needs, preferences, circumstances etc. Here are some points that go into school hunting:
- Budget: perhaps the most important factor. One needs to decide the maximum amount that can be shelled out on school education. It’s not only about managing school fees, it’s also about matching up with the general environment of the school. Even if a middle class parent can afford the fees by stretching the budget a little bit, it may get difficult to maintain the same lifestyle as of rest of the kids who probably belong to very affluent families. In such a school, the lesser fortunate child is bound to feel inferior and it may affect his overall personality in future, along with his education.
- Teaching methodology: this involves looking at whether the school’s focus is on Montessori, traditional, practical, theoretical, mass/individual teaching methodologies. Some kids learn better when given a space and freedom. For such kids, Montessori environment does wonders. Some kids need that extra pressure in order to perform. They learn better in traditional environment.
- Student teacher ratio: this details how many kids are there under one teacher. This ratio also affects overall learning process. In today’s urban culture where kids are quite used to personal attention, a high teacher student ratio may make the child feel lost in the crowd. So if a child’s weak point lies in his inability to interact with the teacher if there are too many children around, then high ratio will affect his learning immensely. Teaching methodology depends hugely on this ratio.
- Distance from home: that’s a simple point and may not need to be mentioned. There is no point in choosing a school in south end when you live in the north end of the city no matter how good the school is. In big cities not only is the distance a big factor, but also the traffic. Sometimes during rush hour it may take the school bus 1 hour to cover 5 kms. Long commuting hours are detrimental to small kids, both academically and developmentally.
- Board: people have their own preference when it comes to school board. It’s best to check and compare the current syllabus on the board website and decide according to your child's abilities. For example, many parents feel that the Indian boards put too much academic pressure on kids who are not very academically oriented, and thus prefer an International board for such kids.
- Extracurricular activities: some schools encourage their students to participate in lots of extracurricular activities, whereas some focus mainly on studies (read classwork-homework). Extracurricular activities are important for a general and overall development and thus it is important to go for a school that visions beyond classroom learning.
- Load of homework: this looks like a small issue in the beginning but it shapes the entire education of the child. When the school hands out tons of pages of homework everyday, a child hardly gets time to finish it, let alone do something on his own for his self studies. Over a period of time, he starts believing that education means finishing homework and passing exams. this is very detrimental to his overall view on education system (remember the movies, Taare Jameen Par and 3 idiots)
- Resources: some schools have good support system for kids who are having learning disabilities or difficulties, or emotional/ behavioral problems, while some schools don’t believe in taking kids with any difficulties, let alone handling them. it may not seem to be a relevant point in the beginning, but in case of a problem, it’s best to have support system at school
These are some of the points that go into deciding a school for the child. It’s almost impossible to find a school that has all the good features. Each school has a set of some features that match with our need and on rest of the point we may have to compromise. Care should be taken not to compromise on issues that are most important and relevant to you and your child.