Childbirth is a joyous and eagerly-awaited moment in a person’s life. Not only the parents but the larger family also join in the happiness. This joy and happiness take on edges of tension as the child reaches the age of 3. Selecting a school, the school applications, the fund of knowledge gained from grandparents, neighbors, office colleagues and of course, the omniscient Google Baba—manage to make for a stressful time for the parents.
Nowadays with most schools opting for online processes, it has become less tiring as one does not have to do the rounds of various schools and navigate the serpentine queues as earlier. Yet, many first time parents are racked by doubts whether their criterion for selecting the school was appropriate for their child. This article seeks to help them to navigate their way through their doubts and reach an informed decision.
Location: It is important and desirable to choose a school which is not far from the house. Commuting is less stressful for the child and the parent can reach the school quickly in case of an emergency. Considering the traffic woes faced by every city and town, it makes a lot of sense to admit the child in a neighborhood school.
Student-teacher ratio: The accepted norm in most states is 1:30 teacher-student ratio. Of course in international schools, it is even lower at 1:15/20. Studies have found that children learn better when individual attention is given by the teacher, thereby, enhancing their learning capabilities and this is definitely not possible in a class of say, 60!
Fees: This is the tricky part. Parents generally are willing to over-extend themselves to admit their children in ‘good’ schools. But not all expensive schools are good and neither is the opposite true. One has to consider one’s budgetary constraints vis-a-vis the deliverables by the school.
– Is the child learning according to his age?
– Does the school have a robust security system?
– Is it in line with modern technologies?
Before paying exorbitant fees, a parent has to find answers to these questions. With each new government challenging the age-old methods, quality education is anyway a luxury in India.
Curriculum: It is important for a parent to find out about the curriculum of the school. Although at the pre-primary stage most parents are not unduly concerned about the academics (as they are more interested in the happiness quotient of their child) still they need to have an understanding of what curriculum the school follows for the later classes. Most importantly, the student should not be spending an inordinate amount of time on home tasks, at least until he reaches the Middle School. In India, CBSE is the most accepted board after state boards but there are a number of international boards like IB and IGCSE which are gaining in popularity.
Extra-curricular activities: Schools today are very progressive in their organization and they do not cater merely to a child’s academic knowledge. All-round development is the watchword of today’s schools. Hence extra-curricular activities are given a lot of importance. It helps to bring out the latent potential of a child and ensures his social, physical and emotional development. Most school websites will give information about the extra-curricular activities that they focus on and develop. Old students and parents of students studying there are also resources that can be tapped.
Quality of teachers: This again is a grey area. How can one judge the quality of teaching? Should one just go by the academic qualifications of teachers or should word-of-mouth publicity be relied on? Are the teachers affectionate and loving? No parent wants a disciplinarian when the child is crying his heart out on his first day. It is difficult to judge as every school has its own approach and the teachers adhere to that. Having said that, today, most schools are very careful in their selection of teachers, especially in the lower classes.
Hygiene, facilities, and security: Where security was not a very big concern two decades ago, schools today are being judged on the safety meter alone sometimes. As the crime rate goes up, so do the security measures. After all, every parent needs to feel that their child is safe within the four walls of the school. Simultaneously, a parent has to check whether the school has a good infrastructure, clean and hygienic classrooms and washrooms, a safe play area and last but not least, a trained medical facility that can deal with emergencies.
The list seems exhaustive but if one is able to get at least 5 out of the 7 criteria, it should be okay. It is not in any order of importance. That order needs to be set by the parent himself. A school should be a happy place for the child at any age.