Pick­ing the right school

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Bright Kids -

FUN­DA­MEN­TALLY, par­ents must weigh a wealth of op­tions when con­sid­er­ing a school for their child. Ge­og­ra­phy, fee struc­ture, school sys­tems, cur­ricu­lum, board­ing, meal plans and even nearby ac­com­mo­da­tion are just a few things up for con­sid­er­a­tion.

“A com­mon fea­ture of schools of­fer­ing an in­ter­na­tional cur­ricu­lum is the use of English as the main medium of in­struc­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” says Nickie Yew, co-founder of Mint Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Sdn Bhd that is ac­tively in­volved in ed­u­cat­ing par­ents about in­ter­na­tional schools. “These schools differ from one another in many ways de­pend­ing on the seg­ment of pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion in which they be­long and the gap they wish to fill.”

A main con­sid­er­a­tion for par­ents is lo­ca­tion, as chil­dren will be trav­el­ling back and forth be­tween home and school quite reg­u­larly. Un­less the school cho­sen is a board­ing school, par­ents should en­sure their chil­dren do not have to travel very far to school by daily com­mute as the chil­dren would be in­volved in ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties and other school events.

If par­ents are lucky, there could be many op­tions to choose from in their lo­ca­tion and guides such as Ed­u­ca­tion Des­ti­na­tion Malaysia (www.ed­u­ca­tion­des­ti­na­tion­malaysia.com) can be use­ful.

Sub­se­quently, as cur­ricu­lum of­fered in­flu­ences the main com­mu­ni­ca­tion lan­guage in pri­vate and in­ter­na­tional schools, in­ter­na­tional schools in Malaysia typ­i­cally use English as the lin­gua franca, which is also a con­sid­er­a­tion for par­ents if their chil­dren were brought up with other lan­guages as the first lan­guage or if the chil­dren are not flu­ent in English.

“As English is the main lan­guage used at schools of­fer­ing an in­ter­na­tional cur­ricu­lum, it is im­por­tant for chil­dren to be suf­fi­ciently pro­fi­cient in the English lan­guage for them to un­der­stand and par­tic­i­pate in the lessons ac­tively,” says Yew.

An im­por­tant el­e­ment in pick­ing an in­ter­na­tional school is to visit the school with your child so that they can get a feel for the place and give their opin­ion. Al­low­ing chil­dren to have a say in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing is im­por­tant be­cause es­sen­tially, their suc­cess is go­ing to be based on how happy they are at school.

“A good ed­u­ca­tion is one that pre­pares chil­dren for the fu­ture. It is im­por­tant for schools to equip chil­dren with skills that will en­able them to be suc­cess­ful in what­ever en­vi­ron­ment they find them­selves in and there­fore, pick­ing a school can­not be a de­ci­sion to be made lightly,” says Mint Com­mu­ni­ca­tions’ co-founder Michele Lam.

Need­less to say a school’s safety and se­cu­rity mea­sures are of ut­most im­por­tance. Fa­cil­i­ties such as health and first-aid ser­vices and emer­gency pro­ce­dures should be present in any school par­ents may be con­sid­er­ing.

De­tails of se­cu­rity mea­sures in and around the school should be taken note of such as whether there is a vis­i­tors’ check at the front gate and in­ter­ac­tion of other par­ents and strangers with stu­dents.

When meet­ing with teach­ers and the prin­ci­pal, do ask about the school’s re­cruit­ment pol­icy and the kind of vet­ting pro­ce­dures in place when hir­ing.

As is the case with most pri­vate and in­ter­na­tional schools, par­ents can take ad­van­tage of the avail­abil­ity of rep­u­ta­tion in­for­ma­tion to judge schools based on stan­dards such as their in­ter­na­tional ex­cel­lence ranking, fa­cil­i­ties and ser­vices avail­able, class sizes and pas­toral care.

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