It happened; you’ve blinked and your tiny toddler has become a boisterous child who’s ready to start his or her very first day of school. While you’ve no doubt dreaded this day, the truth is that you’ve been preparing for it for months, if not years, as you set about choosing the institution that would nurture your son or daughter’s education from the very beginning. And what a decision that is; your child’s education is incredibly important, paving the way for all manner of opportunities later in life – not to mention the lessons, values, and skills that the classroom can inspire. Your choice of school, then, will pave the way for such an adventure.
How to approach the task of choosing the right school for your child
Settling down to search for a good school for your child can appear a difficult, and overwhelming task initially, particularly if you’re attempting to find the right establishment for your firstborn; after all, these are likely to be wholly unchartered waters. The good news is that seeking out the perfect school needn’t be the chore you’ve been dreading, as long as you’re prepared to take your time and be honest about the kind of establishment that will best support your child’s needs. To get this right, you’re going to have to look beyond league tables, official reports, and exam results and prepare yourself to fall in love with subjects and resources, academic environments, and classroom philosophies.
Allow us to inspire a few of those considerations.
Consider how local schools meet your child’s needs
While it’s perhaps tempting to choose the nearest school, or base your decision upon other geographical factors, your search must start with the establishments that will best suit your child’s needs. Does your child require individual attention, r a particularly structured environment? Does he or she have a specific learning need, or excel at all things academic? How will your chosen school nurture your child, or complement his or her personality? Seek out schools that support your preferred learning style, or support a particular need or interest that you’ve identified in your child.
Pay attention to the prospectus
Don’t disregard school literature; what is each prospectus trying to tell you about the kind of environment it’s offering your child? Prospectuses tend to document a school’s philosophy, its approach to education and its policies for handling problems and addressing issues. That shiny brochure will also offer a little insight into results, performance, and parent testimonials, although you should consider other factors before placing your decision in the hands of a few league tables and official looking documents. Take your time, and read each prospectus carefully, making notes in the margins if you need to; each prospectus will become a visual aid when it comes to making your final decision.
Value extracurricular activities
Does your chosen school offer an enrichment program, or place any emphasis on team sports, trips, the arts, and classical languages? In fact, does it offer any extracurricular activities at all? While you’ll no doubt be keen to hear about each school’s approach to English, math, science, and technology subjects, it’s also important to consider the kinds of activities your child might be offered as a complement to his or her formal education. International schools in particular tend to offer amazing opportunities for children throughout their study years; each one as engaging as the last. An American Hong Kong school might be a good choice if you’d like your child to receive a culturally enriching, and engaging education while securingthe internationally recognized qualification of an International Baccalaureate.
Attend open days
Perhaps most importantly you must be prepared to attend numerous open days if necessary; whether you’ve made a shortlist or not, it’s largely impossible to rate one school over another if you’ve not experienced each institution’s atmosphere, or spoken to its staff and pupils. Open days and private tours are an excellent way to get a feel for a school, and to sneak a look at the kinds of classes and activities on offer. What’s more, you should be able to tell quite quickly if your child is likely to be happy at a school – especially if they’ve accompanied youtoeach open day.
Above all, consider which school is likely to suit your whole family, including your daily commute, the kind of workload your child will be expected to complete, and the kinds of activities he or she is going to be able to enjoy either side of the school day. What kind of commitments, and sacrifices will you be expected to make at any given school? Be realistic about your family’s financial constraints, and never, ever be tempted to rush into a decision; the school that your child attends will shape his or her academic future from the moment they set foot within its classrooms, so be certain you’re placing your faith in the right institution. We’d like to wish you every success with your search, and be among the first to congratulate your child on entering the next, exciting chapter of his or her life; enjoy every moment.