The summer holidays are rounding up with schools gearing up to begin a new session.
It is a well known fact that the quality of school your child attends goes a lot in shaping him/her.
There are thousands of schools to choose from which doesn’t make it easy. Apart from that one down your street which you have been eyeing, maybe your neighbour has told you about how great her child’s school is and you are already considering putting your child thereby leading to more confusion.
However, there are important factors and elements to look out for in a school before making a decision and here are eight of them.
1. Quality of teachers
Your child spends an average of 7 hours in school , therefore the teacher plays a huge role in shaping and moulding your child’s behaviour. Make sure to find answers to these important questions before you make your decision.
What type of teachers does the school employ? Are they trained teachers? Are they qualified to teach their classes? Apart from having the professional qualifications to teach, teachers should also be very passionate about their job. So ask yourself, are the teachers passionate? Do they love their work? Do they love the children?
You should also find out how the school treats its teachers. How often are teachers trained and re-trained? Are their mentorship opportunities for teachers? Do they have opportunities for career progression? Are they well-paid? Are they paid on time? What welfare packages are there for the teachers?
Talk with the principal and teachers who will be working with your child to see how they relate to you and their students. Teachers should gently guide and instruct the children, answer their questions and foster their self-confidence.
Find out what the school’s 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, Nigerian curriculum or Montessori 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. For example, Are they offering STEM, how are they incorporating technology, coding and other modern skills needs to thrive in the 21st Century? Do they have a standard library which encourages the child to read?
While the curriculum is a criterion, the school should also provide opportunities to help develop your child’s physical and cognitive skills and overall personality. It should offer a range of co-curricular activities, such as outdoor sports, art and craft, performing arts, and hobby classes. These should be an essential part of a student’s learning experience, as they help imbibe team spirit, self-confidence, and leadership skills.
3. Student-teacher ratio
Small class sizes are known to have a positive effect on children’s learning. A lower student-teacher ratio accords to more opportunities for students to participate in class discussions, ask questions, and express opinions. e.g If the class has less than 20 children you should get better results than a class with up to 40 children for example.
A lower student-teacher ratio can also help improve teaching, and learning outcomes. With fewer students in each class, teachers can pay individualised attention to each child. They can then tailor their instruction based on the needs of each student and allocate more resources to those who may be struggling with one or more aspects of their studies.
Teachers can also spend more time ensuring that each student comprehends the curriculum and gets the help they need to reach their full potential.
The environment should also be put into consideration when looking for a school.
Are the facilities clean and orderly? Are gutters covered? Is the playground safe with safe outdoor toys? Are the teachers, assistants/nannies clean and tidy? Overall is the environment clean and child friendly?
Also be sure to check the school’s 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?
Discipline cannot be over-emphasized, especially these days where the lack of it is normal
For this reason, you should take the discipline of your child seriously. When choosing your child’s new school, there are some vital questions you should ask the management about discipline:
Are there clearly stated rules, regulations and laws for students? Are parents aware of these school rules and regulations and the students as well? Does the school enforce the punishment or sanctions for offences as stated in the rules and regulations? How does the school punish erring students? Do they place financial gains or student population over character building? Can teachers discipline students or are they restricted? Do parents have the right to prevent discipline from being meted out?
If you are satisfied with the answers you get from these questions, you continue making other findings about a school. But the issue of discipline is very crucial.
While choosing an ideal school, make sure that the institution pays equal importance to the parent’s involvement in their children’s progress. There should be timely parent-teacher meetings to inform parents of their child’s academics and other results. In the case of disciplinary actions and also positive happenings by the students, parents should be informed.
Does parents-teachers-association (PTA) exist at all? If so, how strong and effective is it? Are parents allowed to freely air their honest opinions during PTA discussions? Do the school value the contributions and support of parents? Does the school involve parents in important decisions partnering to the welfare of their children?
The proximity and location of the school should be put into consideration.You don’t want your child to be a perpetual latecomer due to traffic.
Questions like Is it better to choose one closest to the house? Or will it be more convenient to have one near the office? will really influence the choice of school.
There is no right or wrong answer here, but put the child’s comfort in mind and ensure that it is easy for a parent or family member to get to school when needed.
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. Does the school have CCTV cameras installed? Ensure that the school is security-conscious.
There is always a good school that fits into your budget. The more expensive fees are should not be the only parameter on which you decide if a school is good or not. While the cost of education is one of the major costs parents will face, there is no need to go bankrupt to send your child to school. Make sure you are getting value for your money.