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Choosing a school for your child can be both exciting and overwhelming. It’s natural to feel ambivalent, though, because this concerns the development of your little one.
Whether you are in the process of selecting a preschool or are preparing to make the move to big school, you will want to find an educational institution that will best suit your child’s needs.
Start off on the right foot with your school hunting by asking and answering these 16 essential questions.
Location is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a school. You will want your child not to spend long hours traveling to give him more time for homework, rest and play.
At the same time, you should also consider your options for shuttling your child to and from school. Is it possible to walk? Is there an accredited school bus provider that you can sign up with? Are you driving your child to school?
Consider traffic and road conditions as well. All of these will affect not just your time, but also the budget of your household.
The distance between school and your office is also something to consider. In the event of an emergency, how fast can you be at the school to pick up your child? While this is not of high priority, being close to where your child spends his days does offer some peace of mind.
How a school teaches affects the performance of every child. In the Philippines, you can typically choose from three different teaching approaches – traditional, progressive and Montessori.
A traditional classroom set up is one where, essentially, the teacher teaches and students listen. In a progressive learning institution, including Montessori schools, there is more focus on open discussion, hands-on activities and a more experiential way of teaching.
Other things to consider are:
Think of your child's education as an investment for his future. As you do your research, you are sure to discover schools that are a good fit for your child, and are within your means. Tuition fees aren't normally published on school websites, so it is best to call to inquire.
Don’t forget to ask about miscellaneous expenses as well, like uniforms, books, development fees and bonds. Prepare yourself, too, for expenses that may be incurred throughout the school year for things like field trips, projects and class programs.
Schools are accredited by institutions like the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU).
Being accredited shows that the school is able to meet certain guidelines and regulations that ensure its students of a higher quality of education. It also means that they are willing to work hard to maintain this status.
Particularly for preschool, the schedule of classes plays a big part in whether or not your child will enjoy and participate in class.
You will want to choose a school that offers schedules that suit the physical needs of your child. This means that if you are used to putting your kid down for a nap in the afternoon, you are better off signing him up for the morning schedule so as not to disrupt the daily routine that he is already used to.
Check, too, how long each class subject takes, and how many breaks there are during the session. From here, you should be able to gauge if your child can keep up with the school’s pace, or if the class schedule seems more packed than what you think your child can and should handle.
Schools with large populations tend to get crowded. So, it would help to find out how many students are enrolled in a school that you are eyeing. You can also ask how the school manages to accommodate all of the kids within the available classrooms and facilities.
Find out how many students there are in a class and how many teachers are assigned per classroom. A smaller class size means that the teachers will be able to give sufficient time and attention to each student.
For preschools and lower grade levels, ask if there are teachers’ aides in the classrooms. They typically assist smaller children with their class activities, meals and packing away. They also accompany the little ones to the comfort room.
There could be several factors that contribute to a teacher’s happiness: salary, schedule and class load, and access to teaching materials and facilities.
When they are unhappy at the school they teach in, however, they will most certainly leave after a while.
Schools whose teachers stay on for several years are usually run well, and are able to provide sufficient learning materials that students and teachers can use. Tenured teachers also have better experience in terms of the teaching style and culture of the school, and this could be beneficial to your kids, too.
Does the school address academic and behavioral issues constructively or do they employ a punishment system for kids like standing in the corner or time-outs? More importantly, are these in line with how you choose to discipline your child?
It is important to know this because it may cause conflict in how you manage issues with your child at home. Also, when schools take very strict disciplinary measures, there is a chance that these will make your child apprehensive about going to school.
Does the school have areas for sports like a basketball court, soccer field, or track oval? What sort of facilities are there for arts and music classes? Is there a library, a computer room and a science lab? How about play grounds for smaller kids?
These facilities give children additional learning ground outside of the classroom. They also serve as a venue for socialization and play, incorporating a bit of fun to the school experience.
In line with the facilities available, ask about the extra-curricular programs and activities that the school offers to their students.
If your kids show an interest in certain things like music, art or sports, it would be nice to expose them further to these in school. From here, they can gain basic skills and knowledge, helping to build strong foundations in these activities.
When you send you child to school, you are entrusting him under the care of their teachers and staff. This being so, you would want to be sure that strict security measures are applied in and around the campus.
For example, some schools require fetchers to wear IDs when picking up their children in order to make sure that none of the kids leave the campus unsupervised or with the wrong person. When kids are located along busy streets, crossing guards employed by some schools help them cross the road.
You could also check to see if there are CCTV cameras around the school, and if guards are stationed at every exit and entry point. When the safety of your kids are concerned, it is truly best to be in the know.
Keeping classrooms and school grounds clean helps to prevent the spread of illnesses and germs. Because kids share toys, pens and coloring materials, these can be vehicles for transmission of viruses if not cleaned properly and regularly.
Kids can also learn from the waste management policies in school. Cleaning as you go, collecting bottles and tin cans for recycling, and maximizing every sheet of paper used are great habits that children can pick up from a school that manages waste well.
There are parents, especially those who have busy work schedules, who find it challenging to pack meals from home for the kids to bring to school. For this reason, you should find out if there is a cafeteria that serves meals to the kids during the day, and how much a meal costs on average.
Other things to research on are the variety of dishes served, and whether or not fruits and vegetables are included in the menu. In case your child has food allergies, you should also check with cafeteria concessionaires if arrangements can be made for meals that are able to address these.
Word of mouth can prove to be a valuable resource when school-scouting. Through the stories and experiences of others, you can get a parent’s perspective on a particular school.
A chat with the child who goes there can also give you a sneak peek into how it is in the classroom and around campus. It can also give you an idea of what the other kids who go there are like.
Ultimately, you should choose a school that is best suited for your child and your family. Consider the children he will be with in class, and whether or not he can relate to them and make friends. Think about the co-parents that you will be dealing with as well.
Learn the vision and mission of the school to find out if it is in line with your own values and principles. Ask who owns the school, and who sits on their board of directors, to get an idea of how the school is managed.
With careful consideration and adequate knowledge, you are certain to find an educational institution where your child can truly learn, grow and thrive.
Happy housewife and mother of one. Avid crocheter. Blogger at mrspcuyugan.com.
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