The Best School for your Child – Tips to help you choose
We all desire that children should attend the best schools where all the right values are imparted and he/she grows up to be a well-rounded individual. When the child is school age, we are faced with the task of choosing a crèche, pre-school, nursery/primary or secondary school.
There are various things to consider. Is it better to choose one closest to the house? Or will it be more convenient to have one near the office? (For Lagos residents the notorious traffic will really influence the choice of school based on traffic). The standards of the school across academics, morals and extra-curricular. How caring are the teachers and caregivers. Whether you can afford the fees? And other questions.
It is important to remember that this is their formative stage, what is learnt now and how the child is treated will basically shape his/her person as someone who is literate, sociable, intellectually curious, able to concentrate etc. It is important to ensure that you go through the work and background of each school and find out first hand what the school has to offer. We cannot rely on just the recommendations we get from family and friends who already (and sometimes don’t) have kids in school. Remember that what is good for your friend, cousin, neighbor may not work for you.
You should look out for schools where you have teachers with a caring attitude but firm. Talk with the principal and teachers who will be working with your child to see how they relate to you and their students. You can even plan for a practice day where the child spends a day in the class. Teachers should gently guide and instruct the children, answer their questions and foster their self-confidence. It is important to note the teacher to child ratio in the classes. If the class has less than 20 children you should get better results than a class with up to 40 children for example. A good rule of thumb at the pre-k level should be a teacher and 2 assistants for a class of 10 to 15. As they get older one teacher, one teacher’s assistant can be adequate.
When planning to visit the school it can be a good idea not to make an appointment, if you are not allowed to go round or take a guided tour because you did not book an appointment you should run! With appointments it could mean that the school wants to get “ready” for the show off for the day. Catching them unawares might be good to see the true reality.
You should look for a hygienic environment. Are the facilities clean? Are they orderly? Are gutters covered? I heard of a child who fell into an open gutter in her school that was full and dirty. Is the playground safe with safe outdoor toys? Are the teachers, assistants/nannies clean and tidy? Overall does the environment seem clean and friendly?
Also be sure to check the schools plan or procedures for medical emergencies and situations. Is there a nurse or doctor on the premises? Is there a functional sickbay with beds? Have the teachers, assistants and care givers gone through basic First Aid courses and CPR techniques?
Find out what the schools academic record is and what the school offers in terms of education as well as extra-curricular activities. A good program irrespective of being a British or Nigerian curriculum. Montessori etc. should teach social, intellectual, emotional and motor skills among other skills. Look out for the specifics of their curriculum; is it a blended curriculum? Or a national one? Whatever the curriculum is, it should be practicable? The traditional style of rote learning is not as effective as learning with lots of practical. For example children learning about plants can be required to do some gardening and plant themselves.
Discipline cannot be overemphasized, especially these days where the lack of it is the norm. Choose a school where there is a high level of discipline but instilled through methods that are civil.
Ensure that the school is security conscious. A good school will be strict about their security. They should typically only allow parents or caregivers with ID cards to pick up the children from school. Make sure you understand their security policy and that it focuses on making the child’s safety a priority.
What is the parental involvement expected in the school? Some schools have an active PTA and expect parents to be very involved. Some schools demand little from the parents. And require parents just a few times a year.
Be sure to note if the students seem bored. Unclean environments, above normal levels of noise, distracted unkempt staff, big classes where the children don’t get adequate attention.
At the end of the day balance the information you gather, visit the schools, check academic results of the school, if it’s a primary school do the children get into top secondary schools or do the students generally have good external exam results to make it to top universities. Ensure the school has a good reputation, rates security, health and safety as a high priority. Analyze the cost of the school between fees, developmental levies, joining fees and other costs associated with the school. Be sure to also make sure the school feels right to you.
Last but not least it is important to take your child to visit the school. You will know if your child seems comfortable with the school and the environment or not. A childs’ first school experience has a great effect on his future feeling concerning school and learning.
Culled from The Learning Guide