Rosa Parks once said, “There is no future without education.” Indeed, the quality of education that we give our children today is an indicator of the quality of their future. The future may not be guaranteed, but, as parents, we can be proactive in ensuring our children’s success in the future by providing them with quality education.
How do you go about choosing a good school for your child? Here are some tips.
In the Philippines, schools are broadly divided into public and private school systems. Public schools run on state funds, so these schools are generally government-owned and operated. On the other hand, private schools are independently administered, so these are non-government or non-state.
All academic institutions including international schools in Manila, Cebu, Davao, Baguio, and elsewhere that do not fall under the public school system are private schools. Reedley is one such private school.
Homeschooling is another option as well. The Department of Education (DepEd), the executive department responsible for primary education in the Philippines, has a list of accredited schools under its Home Education Program. However, virtually all these schools are categorized as private schools as well.
Now that you know what options are available, you also need to ascertain the best learning environment where your child can thrive academically and non-academically.
To find out if there’s a good fit between your child and the school, you must first determine the subjects offered and the level of academic difficulty of each. It’s similar to asking yourself what you want your child to learn. For example, there are science schools, Christian schools, Catholic schools, etc. Next, you want to find a developmentally appropriate school, a teaching practice that supports your child’s age and individual needs.
It would also be beneficial if you have a clear grasp of your child’s learning style so that you can align with the chosen school’s teaching styles and approaches. For example, some children are highly visual, while others thrive through reading and writing. But while you want to make sure that there are activities that support how your child learns best, you would also want for the school to help your child develop the areas of learning that don’t come naturally to him or her.
Finally, determine if the school offers extracurricular activities and other related programs and resources. These are critical in improving your child’s socialization skills. For example, Reedley offers club membership, including academic, civic, arts, sports, interest, and wellness clubs. As such, there are varying levels of peer contact that let the student engage with other students who have similar interests and passions.
There are plenty of schools with a wide-range of offerings that can overwhelm any parent hunting for the right school for their child. So, again, it pays to look into what you want before discerning what the school offers.
This is definitely a future-oriented undertaking. For example, if your child needs to have an opportunity to do college-level work and earn college credits while in high school, then choose an international school in the Philippines that is offering an Advanced Placement (AP) program such as Reedley.
The same goes if you want to enroll your child in a school that provides supplementary programs such as English as a Second Language (ESL). This is vital for foreign students whose English proficiency falls below grade level.
Now that you have an idea of what to look for, you can finally create a shortlist. You want to build the list as you go through the first three steps above. Narrowing your list to five or so schools is ideal.
Aside from your own research, you may want to, ask around as well. Approach relatives, friends, colleagues, or neighbors with school-aged children. Ask them where their children are currently enrolled and why they chose that school.
Parents are usually very helpful in explaining the merits of the schools they’ve chosen for their children. What’s more, they’ll enthusiastically give you a walkthrough and explain why you should do the same. Also, they won’t hold back information on why this school is better than the others.
Dedicate a day to visit your shortlisted schools one by one. Prepare a checklist as well. You want to find a school that nourishes the whole child. Some of the essential things to look for are:
If you can observe the school for a day, much better. In this way, you can truly gauge how the school treats its students, teaching staff, administrative staff, and even housekeeping staff. Talk to the principal, teaching staff, and administrative staff to get an idea of the overall teaching-learning environment. Talk to the students, the guard, and cafeteria staff. Ask them how they feel working there.
Before the physical inspection, you have an option to visit the school’s website to have a working knowledge of how the school operates on a daily basis. Some schools also have profiles on social media and video-sharing sites that you may want to explore first before you plan on meeting the faculty and staff members.
You may opt to create a list of questions before a school visit. Some questions to ask are:
Don’t forget to tailor your questions based on your child’s learning needs. Then, write them down and go through them when talking to the headmaster, headteacher, or teaching staff.
If you can discuss things with parents whose children are enrolled in the same school, the better. They can give you insights into how satisfied they are with the quality of education a particular institution offers.
You don’t have to arrange a formal meeting with them. For instance, if parents are waiting for their children, you may approach them during your one-day visit to the school and engage them in small talk. In this way, you may gauge nuances based on what they say and how they relay the information.
You can possibly arrange a one-on-one meeting with the headteacher or principal. They are open to meeting with parents and discussing how their school is the most suitable for your children’s academic goals. What’s important is that they are forthcoming with information about the school, its teaching and administrative staff, affiliations, accreditations, and more.
Schools conduct Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) meetings (also called parent-teacher conferences or PTCs) periodically, such as once every three or four months. These are usually open to the public. As such, you may request to attend one by simply calling the school. Let them know of your purpose.
Through this, you can establish how transparent the school management is. In addition, you may talk to the teachers and parents during the meeting to discover more about the entire school community.
Once you’re done going over each school on your shortlist, you can finally decide where to enroll your child. You can look at the information you gathered and evaluated the school based on the data. Don’t forget to assess how you felt when you visited the school and talked to the principal, admin staff, and students. You may feel good about the school while talking to these people.
With that, trust what you know, and trust your guts too.
A concurrent theme in the discussion is that it should be clear to you what type of learner your child is and his learning needs. You might as well sit down with your child to get his input as to which school he wants to attend and why and start your search from there. Likewise, discuss with him what you’ve discovered about his preferred school so far and what other options are available out there.
Of course, this applies to older children. For younger children, you are the sole decision-maker. Remember whatever decision you will make today will impact your child’s future. So make sure that decision counts.