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How to choose the Right School for your Child

As soon as the child turns 3/4/5 years old, the big point of discussion in the family becomes –> Which School should be selected amongst so many options available to them. From my perspective this blog post discussion cannot be about comparing schools in a particular city or geography. What I shall attempt here is, try expressing my thoughts on some subjective parameters, which could help you, evaluate schools.

The basic selection parameters for deciding a school could be follows (in the order of priority)

  1. Infrastructure
  2. Academics
  3. Attention / Focus on each student / Discipline
  4. Sports Facility or Sports Curriculum
  5. Extra Curricular
  6. Communication with Parents
  7. Distance
  8. Status of the School/ Known Name or Unknown brand / The School Management & Principal
  9. Affiliation – What Board is the school affiliated to
  10. Learning from the existing Parents

These are some not all but most certainly the most important parameters. Now let us try defining each one of them and see if something in this resonates with your views as well.

Infrastructure – What to look for in Infrastructure. Don’t look for Classrooms, but look for things inside the classroom – Noticeboards, Multi Media equipment and Cleanliness. Look for Activity space, the assembly area and activity rooms like spaces meant for visual and performing arts.

Academics – Please do not ask inane questions like “How many of your students achieve 90% plus scores”, “How is the result at your school” all of this is as stupid as asking the shopkeeper of a sweet shop whether items he is selling contain sugar or not. You will never be able to check out the veracity of the responses. The real question should be about the teaching technique, the pedagogy, about the academic and non-academic faculty. How do they ensure accountability amongst the staff, the burden on a single teacher – How many classes per day, How do they endure notebook corrections, How do they pace learning by doing with the orthodox methods etc. I believe these question will help you get an inside view of the way system functions in a school.

Attention / Focus on each student / Discipline – I believe all the school you visit will tell you – We provide HOLISTIC DEVELOPMENT, ALL ROUND PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT. The discussion starts from here – How do you do it. Again what is the accountability here from the school side, How do they define the parameters, How do they evaluate those parameters, How do they record it so as parents could relate to them, How do they scale it up or down etc. This is a grey area, which needs address and understanding. This also makes up for how professional the set up is.

Sports Facility or Sports curriculum – Look around you (esp. if you are living in populated cities) where does your kid go to play when he there with you at home. Good chances are nowhere. He keeps thudding his knees against the cemented floor within the society’s premises. His interaction to the world of sports more often than not will be through Television or video games. For kids, knowledge of sports education and fitness education is a must. I strongly believe and advocate nothing shapes personality more than Sports. Keep everything one side Debate/ performing arts/ quizzing one side and Sports One side on the balance. I believe sports will win by a handsome margin. Then again the question now becomes HOW does school go about it beyond the infrastructure. Do they have special provision for children who are playing at the higher levels, What is the sports calendar, what all competitions they are looking to participate etc etc.

Extra Curricular – Though this ranks on Number 5 but this is no less than No 3 or No 4. Questions one needs to know and ask are – How do you decide on a cleaner, what are the age divisions or groups under which you ask students to perform and participate in activities. How do you conduct morning assembly. How do you decide a child’s involvement based on his aptitude etc etc

Communication with Parents – Sometimes overlooked but a big piece of the jigsaw. How does school communicate beyond the regular Parent – Teacher meeting. How does the school deal with cases of discipline and disobedience. How do they decide on punishments (if any). What is the medium they use to give information to parents – ERP, web, mobile etc. This takes a lot of load and does really help to stay in sync with the school’s agenda.

Distance – How far is the school, What is the conveyance facility available, How is security maintained when the cild is travelling etc could feature in evaluation parameters map.

Status of the School/ Known Name or Unknown brand / The School Management & Principal – People matter a lot, reputation maters and the Leader (Principal) mater more than anything. try interacting with as many people as possible and figure out the vision and the methodology at the school. Brand matters but only to a certain degree. All that matters is how is that adding to your child’s knowledge or personality.

Affiliation – What Board is the school affiliated to – For classes beginning from Class I and onwards schools have to follow a certain board of education. I personally believe uphill Class V the board doesn’t matter at all or it is fairly irrelevant, go for the school which performs well on other parameters and go for admission. If you want to read more on affiliation here are my two posts on boards in India – Post I & Post II

Learning from the existing Parents – Nothing like talking to a random father / mother of any student who are have been sending their kids to the school where you are looking to admit your child. This will help you understand the loopholes of the offerings. They it is up to you to make peace or else with the facts produced by them.

I believe if you start putting rank each of the parameters add the score and compare across different school, you will be able to deduce a fair comparison. I wish all of you all the best for you and for your child.

In the end I would like to put down a few lines from the Author & Novelist – William Martin

“Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary life,

Show them how to cry when pets and people die.

Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand,

And make the ordinary come alive for them.

The extra-ordinary will take care of itself.”

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Abhiney Singh
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