Putting your child through school is one of the most important things you can ever do for him or her. Whatever happens in the future, an education is something that your child will carry with him/her. As the old saying goes, a good education may very well be the only legacy you leave your child.
Choosing the right school, therefore, is of utmost importance. It is not like you can do an eenie meenie moe kind of thing. Neither can you decide to send your child to a particular school simply because you know people (maybe including yourself) who went there.
If you are faced with having to choose an educational institution for your child, here are questions that you must ask. Some of these you should ask the authorities in school, while others you must ask of yourself.
1. What does the school expect from students and their families?
Setting expectations is an important thing. Naturally, you have your own expectations from the school, but you should also consider what they expect from your child as a student. Not only that, you should also ask the degree of participation they require of the parents.
2. How big are the classes?
The general rule is the smaller the size of the classes, the better. There are no hard and fast rules as to the perfect student to teacher ration, but 25 students to 1 teacher is a good number. If the ratio exceeds 30 students to 1 teacher, then you might want to think about it.
3. What is the curriculum like?
The curriculum is something that you would spend a lot of time thinking about. In essence, this is what your child will be learning in the next years of his or her life. You need to find out all about the subjects they tackle for the year, how they approach learning, and the like. Do not hesitate to list down more specific questions regarding this point and to bring them up when meeting with the principal or school teachers.
4. How technology-inclined are the teachers and the staff in general?
We live in a very technology-oriented age. It is imperative that children are exposed to technology as used in daily life. When scouting out a school, find out if they have technology classes. Find out if they use computers for classes and how they are used. Furthermore, check if they are connected to the Internet. This brings about another point – how the school ensures the safety of children online.
5. What is the overall atmosphere in the school?
You’re the only one who can really answer this question, as even if you ask the question outright, you might not get accurate answers. The trick is in paying attention to details during your school visit. Observe the cleanliness of the hallways, the grounds, and the rooms. Browse the bulletin boards for clues regarding the nature of the school. Take a look at the students, the teachers, and the staff and how they interact with one another.
6. How diverse is the student body?
The world is getting smaller, and school is a great place for your child to be exposed to different ideas and cultures. If this is important to you, you ought to determine the student body diversity. Where are the students from? Do they have foreign students?
7. How does the school measure in in terms of safety issues?
Safety is of paramount importance when choosing a school. Government agencies have strict guidelines regarding safety in schools, and you should be familiar with these. Take a look at the classrooms, fire safety plans, the playground, the cafeteria, etc. Ask the principal about their school safety issues and how they tackle these issues.
8. What is the official policy regarding bullying?
Along the same lines, it is a good idea to know what the school’s policy on bullying is at the outset. Bullying is a serious and present issue in many schools. The last thing you want is to find yourself in the middle of a bullying issue (whether your child is the bully or is being bullied) and not having the same point of view as the school authorities.
9. How accessible is the school from where you live?
Naturally, you will ask this question from the very beginning. You need a school that is near enough so that you will not encounter problems transporting your child to and from school. Along the same lines, you should also inquire about the school’s provisions in terms of transportation, if they have any.
10. What are the facilities of the school?
I’ve mentioned some facilities such as computers (and computer labs perhaps) and transportation. You can also ask about the cafeteria (make sure the food served is healthy), library, nurse’s clinic, gym, etc.
11. What are the extra-curricular activities offered by the school?
Somehow related to the facilities that the school has are the extra-curricular activities that they offer, together with after school activities. You want your child to grow up to be a well-rounded person, and focusing solely on academics will not contribute to that.
12. What are the fees and how much are they?
Last, but not the least, you need to know exactly what fees the school charges and how much these fees are. At the end of it all, you have to make sure that you can afford to send your child to the school and not have everyone else in the family suffer needlessly for it.