PICK­ING THE RIGHT SCHOOL MADE EASY

Many par­ents face the chal­lenge of choos­ing a school that’s right for their child. With so many schools of­fer­ing dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ments, teach­ing styles and philoso­phies, mak­ing a choice can be over­whelm­ing. Ni­tasha Chawla shares ways that can make this d

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - City - - EDUCATION SPECIAL -

As your child ap­proaches the age to be­gin his/her aca­demic jour­ney, many ques­tions sprout in your mind. Which school of­fers the best en­vi­ron­ment for my child? What type of par­ent-teacher com­mu­ni­ca­tion ex­ists at the school? How fi­nan­cially sta­ble is the school? Does the school have ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties that sup­port what is taught? Are chil­dren with lim­ited English lan­guage skills, learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties, or other spe­cial needs learn­ing and per­form­ing well on tests?

The list goes on...which makes it more and more dif­fi­cult to choose from a num­ber of schools you have on your list.

The first step in choos­ing the right school is to de­ter­mine what type of stu­dent your child is and what en­vi­ron­ment he or she will most likely suc­ceed in. If you don’t have an an­swer to this ques­tion, you can take your child to an ed­u­ca­tional con­sul­tant. This will make the task of un­der­stat­ing your child’s needs, strengths and over­all per­son­al­ity sim­pler.

Armed with a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of your child, the next step is to pre­pare a list of schools and start tour­ing. Most schools of­fer tours of some sort to help get fam­i­lies bet­ter ac­quainted with their pro­grammes and en­vi­ron­ment. Let’s take a look at a list of things to keep in mind while eval­u­at­ing a school dur­ing a tour.

IN­TER­ACT WITH THE TEACH­ERS

To be­gin with, in­ter­act with the head teacher and se­nior man­age­ment team. Get a sense of how you ex­pe­ri­ence them as role mod­els and ethos set­ters. See how they in­ter­act with the staff and chil­dren. Do they know chil­dren as in­di­vid­u­als and un­der­stand their back­grounds, and do they know chil­dren’s names? Th­ese are all l im­por­tant things to look ok out for when you are vis­it­ing a prospec­tive school, and can quick­lykly give you a sense of how thehe school is run and the pri­or­i­ties in place.

GET A SENSE OF SCHOOL’S AT­MOS­PHERE

A school’s at­mos­phere plays an im­por­tant role in build­ing skills such as co­op­er­a­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and also con­fi­dence among the stu­dents. With this in mind, see how the chil­dren in­ter­act with peers and adults in the class­room. Think about what the at­mos­phere is like and if the chil­dren work in a pur­pose­ful way. Do they co­op­er­ate with each other? It’s also worth look­ing at class­room group­ing prac­tices and con­sider to what ex­tent girls and boys are en­cour­aged to work to­gether or if ac­tiv­i­ties are seg­re­gated by gen­der.

Merely ob­serv­ing the class­room at­mos­phere is not enough, it’s worth stick­ing around for break time too as this can give you a real sense of how chil­dren are able to in­ter­act on their own terms. Many re­searches have high­lighted the im­por­tance of ‘place’ in shap­ing chil­dren’s ex­pe­ri­ence of school. The emo­tional at­tach­ment and re­sponses chil­dren form are build in key parts of the school – such as the play­ground. Th­ese places can play an im­por­tant role in build­ing a sense of be­long­ing and learner iden­tity.

IM­POR­TANCE OF FRIEND­SHIP

As friend­ships and re­la­tion­ships can strongly in­flu­ence a child’s sense of both in­clu­sion and ex­clu­sion at school, give care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion to how a school pro­vides for the emo­tional and so­cial well-be­ing of their pupils. See if you can get a sense of how the school deals with friend­ships and re­la­tion­ships and how teach­ers re­spond to chil­dren’s

IT IS IM­POR­TANT TO DE­TER­MINE WHAT TYPE OF STU­DENT YOUR CHILD IS AND THE EN­VI­RON­MENT HE OR SHE WILL MOST LIKELY SUC­CEED IN. IF YOU DON’T HAVE AN AN­SWER TO THIS QUES­TION, YOU CAN TAKE YOUR CHILD TO AN ED­U­CA­TIONAL CON­SUL­TANT.

friend­ship dif­fi­cul­ties. Are chil­dren work­ing to­gether and play­ing to­gether, tak­ing turns and shar­ing? It is also worth ask­ing about the school’s key mis­sion state­ment and phi­los­o­phy for learn­ing, and what re­sources back th­ese up.

BAL­ANCE BE­TWEEN ACA­DEMICS AND ECA

A fa­mous proverb aptly states, “Teach me and I will for­get. Show me, and I might re­mem­ber. In­volve me, and I will never for­get.” While the class­room is a place where the in­tel­lec­tual de­vel­op­ment of the per­son­al­ity is achieved, it’s the co-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties that help in the aes­thetic de­vel­op­ment (such as char­ac­ter build­ing, spir­i­tual and moral values, phys­i­cal growth and cre­ativ­ity) of the stu­dents. Pick a school which of­fers a bal­ance be­tween the two. Af­ter all, it has been proven that stu­dents who par­tic­i­pate in ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties show higher aca­demic re­sults, stronger re­la­tion­ships in school and are more likely to lead a healthy life­style.

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