School admissions. It’s that stressful time of year for parents of toddlers entering the formal education system for the first time. And the question that bothers you as a parent is: how can you be sure to choose the right school for your child? Should you follow your instincts about school or just rely on your research and analysis? Should popular opinion guide you or should you rely on recommendations from trusted friends and family members?
The choice of school depends on a host of material and immaterial factors. While no school can meet all of your requirements, the best way to make a rational choice is to prioritize and go with the school that meets the criteria you simply cannot compromise on.
To make it easier for you to make the most important decision, here are some tangible and intangible things that are important.
Curricula work as a guide or framework for how learning will be delivered to your child. If the curriculum is inflexible or impervious, it may not prepare your child for an ever-changing world that is changing faster than ever. The program should be agile and focused on how to learn rather than what to learn to equip your child for the world and workplace they will enter after 14 years of school. Schools in NCR Delhi offer a range of programs: from CBSE and ICSE (the national programs) to Cambridge and IB (the international programs). Of these, the former is more focused on content assimilation and many schools choose to go the traditional route by encouraging practices such as rote learning. So, if you are going for CBSE/ICSE, it would be better to choose a school that combines progressive teaching-learning methodologies with the national curriculum to achieve good learning outcomes beyond just exam results. Both Cambridge and IB programs are by design geared towards the application of knowledge across subject areas and the development of critical thinking skills, and their assessments also have a clear focus on these skills.
Teaching and learning practices
Project-based learning, experiential learning, holistic development, etc. are buzzwords in today’s educational ecosystem. However, they have little meaning if they are not rooted in all school practices. It is therefore essential for parents to know if the school being considered is only interested in these concepts or if they really have school-wide systems and structures in place to implement and support them. It would be best to check with school officials on the following while exploring this aspect: a) differentiate teaching and learning practices that make the school experiential/progressive/holistic; b) the nature of the projects, how the project work is integrated into the subjects and whether the projects are used for learning or simply to assess learning; c) schools’ approach to literacy and numeracy and the learning outcomes sought in each; d) the opportunities the school provides for developing design thinking, creating solutions through creative spaces, interdisciplinary learning to develop transfer skills and for student leadership, etc. to get a good idea of the school’s commitment to being experiential or progressive. You can also access this information from current parents of students in the school or interact with the students themselves.
Teacher leadership and accountability
The direction a school takes, like any other organization, is heavily influenced by the vision, belief systems and approach of its leadership team. It is therefore a good idea to find out more about the management team, their academic background, their achievements and their philosophy before making a choice.
Educators are the ones who drive change in the classroom and will determine the actual quality of learning taking place. It is therefore important to understand the type of investment the school makes in their professional development and growth, as well as the respect and value given to them in the system. The best learners make the best teachers, so a good assessment of teacher competence would focus on their desire to learn and grow, as well as their ability to empathize with the child. How the teacher makes the child feel like himself and what he needs to learn is more important than factors such as his language proficiency.
Basic sports, academic and extracurricular infrastructure and facilities are a given in today’s world and most schools are well equipped. However, in this area too, it would be useful to look beyond the mere availability of some important factors such as:
- How effectively does the building design and use of space contribute to complementing the learning environment? Space is considered the third teacher today and can play an important role in how your child learns.
- Is the school’s program designed to ensure that every child can make the most of the school’s facilities and infrastructure? How rich and informed are its sports, artistic and musical programs?
- Has the school invested in treated fresh air units that keep pollutant levels under control in enclosed spaces where students spend maximum time?
- Does the school have CCTV, transport tracking apps, visitor management systems, etc. ? Is it well lit without dark corners? Are all areas regularly patrolled by guards/supervisors? Are guards and support staff trained in POCSO and child handling?
The reputation of a school is important because it also has an influence on its students. It is best to verify the school through credible websites or magazines that rank schools based on extensive and thorough research and also verify the school’s accreditations and associations with reputable organizations. But beyond reputation, it is also very important to get the right atmosphere of the school based on personal visits and interactions with school representatives. There should be a culture of caring and warmth which can only be felt through the behavior and attitude of the various school stakeholders. A culture that allows for individual freedom and voice, where students are truly immersed in what they do and driven by purpose and passion.
You need to find out if the school’s philosophy of learning resonates with your own belief system, because an alignment of the school’s and parents’ value and belief systems is essential for a child’s healthy development. The kind of person you envision for your child should be supported and encouraged by the values and ethos of the school, as your home environment and your child’s school will be the two strongest influences on him or her during their early years. training. You can find out through the behaviors and norms encouraged by the school among students and parents. Ask questions about the school’s approach to aspects such as rights, privileges, inclusion, competitiveness, community and citizenship, social-emotional learning, digital citizenship, etc., to to name just a few would be helpful.
The physical, academic and social aspects of a school’s learning environment have a direct bearing on your child’s well-being and happiness. They form the basis of your child’s relationship with the school’s learning community and their progress over the years. One way to determine the type of learning environment a school has is whether it supports:
- Competition vs collaboration
- Achievement vs excellence or a balance of both
- Child-centred approach or unique approach
- Child dependency on parents vs. independent learning
- Learning motivated by rewards and punishments vs self-directed learning
- Large classes vs. individualized attention through better student-to-teacher ratio
A parent-school partnership is essential to ensure that your child grows up to be the best he can be. In this context, it is important to understand whether the school provides many opportunities for parents to interact with school management and teachers, participate in school activities, and contribute time and skills whenever possible. . Regular structured interactions, easy connection, and high parental engagement are key to keeping the school community vibrant and healthy. So that would be another important aspect to watch out for.
However, beyond these considerations, the primary factor that must influence your decision is: will your child be happy, free and supervised in the school you have chosen? Children do best in environments where they feel safe and happy – and the school that provides this environment will be perfect for your child.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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