How do you know which is the best school for your child? To aid in your decision-making, here is a DECISION Guide for you.
You may also read through the FAQ‘s to assist you in your choice of school most suited for your child. Use the Checklist in School Selection that Preppi School presents to assist you.
The best way to choose a school for your child is to systematically consider important elements that will affect you and your child. Here is a Decision Guide to help you in your decision-making process.
There are three main considerations to guide you in your choice of school for your child.
1. Your Child’s Needs
2. Your Parental/Personal Needs
3. The School’s Qualifications
There are three steps to come up with a Decision
1. Know your Needs
2. Scout and inquire from a selection of schools. Schedule a Visit.
3. Using your List of Needs and Checklist, decide on the best school within your parameters.
The First Step: Know Your Needs.
Make your List of Needs
Before you scout for schools, determine your priorities. In other words, rank your List of Needs in order of priority. Know your “Must Haves” or “non-negotiables” from items that you can let go or compromise with. For instance, is the cost more important than the location? Does proximity and parking take a primary rank over a school’s programs? How far are you willing to travel to have your child avail of exceptional programs that may be distant from your residence? What is parking poses a problem, would you change your mind about a school?
Here is the general outline of needs that you have to consider. Add your other needs that may not be on the list.
1. Your Child’s Needs
- Disposition, Personality, Behavior (For example, prepare to wean your child from being too close to you to avoid separation anxieties. Control tantrums. Train your child to sit on a chair and not on your lap…)
- Inclinations and interests
- Indicators on Readiness for school as shown on Mental, Psychological, Emotional, Behavioral, Social aspects (Observe your child’s curiosity and the questions s/he asks. Does your child ask what words say or mean? Is your child looking for a playmate or friends? How does your child respond to environs outside of the home?)
- Motivation (Has your child been asking questions when s/he can go to school? Has s/he been asking for you to teach him/her skills? Is your child asking for more activities to do in a day?)
- Parents’ discernment on the child’s learning level, capability and style (How fast can your child absorb facts? What is his/her level of focus? What kind of stimulation does your child respond to?)
- Self-understanding (How your child assimilates, receives and responds to facts independently)
- Challenges in several aspects: physical, mental, behavioral, social, others (Does your child hit others/likes to share/likes to play with others/ prefers to work alone/ timidity/temper tantrums, etc.)
- Special Needs like learning disabilities and disorders (i.e hyperactivity, inattention and problem with focus, etc.)
- Others (for example biological schedules, toilet training, tantrum control, etc.)
- Extracurricular activities (i.e. gymnastics, singing, dancing, voice, playing musical instruments, martial arts, sports like basketball, swimming, baseball, soccer, etc.)
- Family Finances: your budget for school fees
- Family, Professional, and Personal Schedules (Who will pick up your child? Who will be with your child while you are at work? Does your child need after school hours? Who will attend the Orientation, Programs and Parent Conferences? Do you have time to assist your child do homework and school projects? Figure out your work and school pick up/drop off schedules, etc.)
- Location of the school: convenience and proximity to home (What is your distance limit? How far can you go to bring your child to school? Will you be caught in traffic bringing in and picking up your child?)
- Family values: what you expect your child to learn in school (religion, morals, ethics)
- Parental preferences and expectations on how you expect your child to learn (Do you like the traditional and strict environment or the more progressive set up? Consider the school methods and classroom management: policies (including disciplinary) and procedures of the school, school handbook, dress and honor code, etc.)
- Your view on the school’s social expectations of student and parent community (How much school involvement are you willing to do? How busy are you? What kind of school assistance do you need in monitoring the progress and programs of your child?)
- Personal biases about certain schools (i.e. As an alumni of a school, do you want your child to go to the same school? What are your family and friend school recommendations? What do you know about traditional, progressive, Montessori and other pedagogies? Do you like the strict work ethic practiced in traditional schools or do you want weekends to be spent with family instead of drowning in drills and homework? Do you want a school known best for literacy, science, music, arts, sports, religion, achievements of alumni, marketing promotions, etc.? Are you open to try out a new school or stick to old schools that have been existing for 20 years? Do you want to send your child to the same school as your best friend’s child so that your child will already have a friend on the first day?)
- School Culture vis-a-vis Family Culture (How do you interact in the home? How do you want your child to be treated? What are the school values and behavior of teachers, students and their parents? Do you like your child to be disciplined in the a) traditional “Time Out”; b) traditional strict reprimand manner; c) or in a different positive approach?)
- To learn about the Detailed Elements of the School’s Qualifications, see the CHECKLIST IN SCHOOL SELECTION
- Licenses and Accreditation: compliance with government requirements like Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Barangay clearances and DepED accreditation/recognition
- Teacher and Personnel accreditation: Each teacher should have the educational background, and license to teach. Each personnel should have their annual medical clearances to indicate physical fitness and government clearances that they are qualified and safe personnel. Is the director an educator? What are the qualifications of the principal? What is the degree of the teacher to be assigned to your child? How long has the teacher been teaching?
- Quality of Service (school culture and personnel): Are the personnel pleasant? What is the general atmosphere in the school? Do you observe the personnel treating each other nicely and respectfully? Do you see the existing students still smiling even at the end of the day or tired, exasperated and raring to get out of school?
- Philosophy, Vision and Goals: What is the vision of the school? What is the philosophy? Learn the different types of pedagogy (science of teaching) and philosophy. Ask if you can interview some existing parents of the school. Find out the involvement of the school in the community.
- Health and Safety: What is the visitor policy? How is the security? How are children released after class hours? Check out the neighborhood. Inspect the sanitation of the school.
- Curriculum and Programs: Consider what kind of programs you want your child to be involved in. What kind of curriculum does the school have? Are the teachers trained and is the school licensed to use the curriculum they employ? Be warned that there are many schools that profess to be “progressive” and “eclectic” when in reality, it is a hodge podge of “this and that” lessons from different schools of thoughts and compilation of teaching manuals purchased by the school owner or researched from the internet. Is the director or are some faculty members notable professionals in the community known for their contribution of knowledge and service?
- Tuition Fees: What is the price range that you can afford and are willing to pay? Remember that you will get what you pay for. Typically, a higher priced school would provide a premium quality and service to education compared to a lower priced school. Some schools are higher because of the facilities and real estate value of the school (more costly to maintain a bigger school too). Consider too, that there are a number of small schools that still adhere to international standards and offer a high quality education. There are also certain schools that charge high but the quality of education is not at par to what you may expect. How do you know? Find out where their graduates go and observe the behavior and daily practical knowledge of the enrolled children. What are they learning? What do they remember and what do they apply? Inquire if the school has a Scholarship Program, if you like the school but may not be able to afford it.
- Policies and Procedures: Think of the policies you want a school to have for your child in order to find the perfect fit for you. What kind of policies would go against your personal, religious and family values? Be aware of these things.
- Relationship with the director, administrator, teacher or whoever you will relate with regarding the welfare and progress of your child (Do you feel comfortable with the person? Do you think you can trust that person? Can you relate with that person well? Will that person listen to your needs?)
The Third Step: Reflect and Decide
Take time to check your List, Reflect and Decide with your spouse on the school best suited for your child given your specific parameters. Sleep on it. After a few days in incubation, may you be able to find the school that you deem is a perfect fit for your child.
All the best!