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Making decisions about school?? Ten things to consider

Parenting with Joanne


Almost every parent, is taken by surprise as to how fast time flies and how soon the schooling years come into existence for their young children. At one point, our children are within our loving reach and almost the very next we are preparing for them to enter this long contract for education; school.

The days when parents were passive observers of school and its functions is almost completely gone. Parents, are now encouraged to take on a very active role in their child’s learning. This role begins with the definite choice we make about a school among many other schools. Hence, I thought it appropriate that we look into a few factors that can help us make good judgements in this regard

 

  1. School culture

Every school, whether obvious or not has a culture within it. Some schools prioritize discipline, while others don’t. Some schools foster an authoritarian atmosphere while others foster a child centered environment. Taking some to observe and learn more of a school’s internal culture is worth your time as it is there that your child will spend more than half of his waking hours. As a result, it is true that a school’s culture can and very often does have a lasting effect on a child’s life.

  1. Learning environment

The role of facilitators today has evolved. They are no longer treated at ‘gods’ with unlimited knowledge, rather, as adults who are able to inspire and direct the course of learning. Thus, there is much focus today on how a learning environment is. The learning environment refers to the immediate physical space occupied by students. It is wise for parents to observe these learning environments and ensure that space is sufficient, creativity is fostered and that it is on the whole conducive for learning.

  1. Teaching methods

Today, teaching methods need to be tempered more and more with hands on learning. Hands on learning focuses on helping children connect what they learn within a classroom to the world outside. Teaching methods, therefore cannot be centered merely on books. You need to ask yourself these questions. ‘Will my child be able to use skills learnt within a classroom to varying situations in the outside world’, ‘are debates encouraged within a classroom?’, ‘Is my child’s curiosity fostered?’

  1. Class size

At a national level, the problem of having ‘many’ children in a class, thus a single child being overlooked, is still prevalent. However, it is a very real concern and parents need to be vigilant about it. It is humanly impossible for a single classroom facilitator to focus on the specific needs of every child when the class strength is over 30 in a single classroom. If you, like many other parents, know that your child would need a certain amount of individual attention in specific subjects of behavior related concerns, choose well and avoid overcrowded classrooms.

  1. Student to teacher ratio

If there is a case of a big class size and the school is able to compensate for this situation by providing assistant teachers who can attend to the varying needs of a child that, can be classified as a positive for the school. Ideally, every group of ten children should be allotted a single facilitator at a given time.

  1. Scope for extracurricular activities

Schooling isn’t only about academics and getting straight A’s for exams. A child needs growth in his social, emotional, physical and psychological being as well. And it is first a parent’s responsibility to ensure that a school of their choice is able to provide the holistic development that is essential for their child.

  1. Proximity and travel time

It is always wise to cut down on travel time for your child between school and home. Children need enough rest and relaxation on a regular basis in order for them to function well in a school and at home. It is very cumbersome for a child to spend over three hours commuting to and fro school, and still maintain good grades and participate in as many extra-curricularactivities as he wishes.

As parents, we need to bear this factor in mind while choosing a school. If there is a possibility of relocating the home to a place which is in closer proximity to the school of your choice, do so without hesitation.

  1. Affordability

This factor goes without saying. Nevertheless, I have addressed it here. Finances are an important aspect of educating your child and considering affordability should be priority. Consider your long term affordability in an institution and make wise decisions that don’t compromise on a good learning for your child.

  1. Bear the future in mind

Every parent has a dream for his own child. This dream is best realized when the child’s potential is taken into consideration and his own desires are heeded to as well. Every school has a type of curriculum that is followed. When you choose a school, ensure that you choose a curriculum that best fits what your child will aspire for after schooling years. By doing this, you are creating a useful flow between your child’s secondary and tertiary learning experience.

  1. Meeting expectations

School facilitators have expectations from parents that they may or may not express to you at the first meeting. At the same time, you as a parent will have your own expectations from a school setting. Be real about these expectations and discuss them with the school. It is best for you and your child to commit to a school knowing that your own expectations and that of the school are coinciding well enough for the ultimate benefit of your child.

 

Let us move away from taking a back seat about our children’s education by allowing schools to ‘handle’ the situation. Parents can and very strongly should take a pioneering role in the learning that happens within schooling years for their child.


Joanne Sathyadass has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Journalism, Psychology and English Literature from the University of Bangalore now serving as a Special Needs Educator

For any queries please email Joanne on joanne.parenting@gmail.com