EDUCATION

What to do when choosing a school for your child

It’s common and normal for parents to feel anxious about getting this decision right.

In Summary

• There is a wealth of evidence that highlights the effects and high stakes of a school culture and how this meets the needs of the child.

• To simplify the school choice process, you will need to learn what to consider and how to evaluate your options.

Children in school before the pandemic
Children in school before the pandemic

Parents have to make decisions about their children’s’ lives on a daily basis. One of the most important decisions in shaping your child’s future is how to choose a school that will meet their needs. This is a very personal decision, as all children are unique and individual. It’s common and normal for parents to feel anxious about getting this decision right.

If you have had the opportunity to choose a school for your child, whether public or private, evaluating the quality could be challenging. 

Performance in schools is increasingly judged on the basis of effective learning outcomes. Information is critical to knowing whether the school system is delivering good outcomes. While it is easy to see how schools are judged by their academic performance, there is a wealth of evidence that highlights the effects and high stakes of a school culture and how this meets the needs of the child. To simplify the school choice process, you will need to learn what to consider and how to evaluate your options.

Through the following questions you can make an informed decision.  

Consider your personal values and preferences as a family. Do you prefer public or private education? Are the facilities of the school and their subject choices a consideration? Do you want your child to attend the same school that you attended or have a different school experience? Do you want your child to have a particular faith-based or multi-denominational education? Do you want to send your child to day or boarding school? and are you interested in a particular curriculum?

Some of the practical considerations would be: How will the location and the cost of commuting to the school affect you? If you have other children, is it important that all your children go to the same school or would you prefer different schools for each child? Is it important to you and your child where your child’s friends are going to school? And Do you require before-school and after-school care for your child because of your work situation?

There are also detailed factors about the school you are about to choose Is it small or big and how does that fit your child’s personality? What facilities does it have to support your child’s learning journey? For instance playground and sports facilities, traditional and digital libraries, music programmes, clubs and interactive programmes and teams.

Also, what are the school’s academic results? Have they sustained good performance over the past few years? Is it a school that is test and course work driven or a modern curriculum that moves with the education trends of the modern world? What about other performance areas like leadership programmes, arts programme, music programme, sport activities and community engagement. Are they achieving successes in these fields? And is the school able to support any additional needs your child may require? E.g. a disability, developmental delay, dyslexia and other education needs.

School communication and connections are also important. It imperative to consider the opportunities available for the parent and family involvement with the school, and how communication between home and the school is managed.

The right school for your child can make all the difference in his or her successful academic career. Once the information is gathered and assessed, trust your intuition. Take all the answers into consideration. Your child will benefit tremendously from your active concern and involvement with his or her education.

Millicent Asiema is a counselling psychologist at Makini Schools