Choosing the right school for your kids can seem like a daunting task. After all, the school they attend will impact your children’s growth, development, education, and future success. Consequently, you can feel a lot of, especially if you have many options from which to choose. If this is your first time going through this process, it can feel challenging.
It is helpful to research which things to consider before even thinking of looking at schools. When you understand the numbers and what they mean, you can better understand what to look for. This is especially true when you have a child with uncommon needs and need to know how a school can best support them on their academic journey.
School plays a significant role in, among other things, the development of developing crucial young children and social skills. These are not only important for social interaction but also crucial in education. Your children will spend most of their young years in an educational setting, and some even go off to study for further qualifications.
A school is a place where your children will meet friends, learn how to co-operate and interact with their peers, learn about new subjects, develop skills and knowledge, develop a sense of self, new hobbies and interests and much more. School is an invaluable opportunity for your children to succeed in life, which is why choosing the right school can feel like a lot of pressure and take some time to find the right one.
If you find yourself in this position, here are some top tips to help you choose the right school for your children.
Learn about your children’s educational needs
Every child learns differently. Some learn better with visuals, while others learn better with hearing, reading, or doing. Some children learn better with more collaborative approaches, independent approaches, or need extra support.
All schools tend to have a similar approach to learning and offer a range of tools, resources, and support to help each child with their learning style.
Some schools may offer informal and formal learning styles and structures in the classroom, including oral learning and assessments, instead of traditional writing methods. Other schools may offer a more creative and collaborative learning style that encourages group discussions, physical interactions, and activities that support more kinesthetic learners with experiential learning.
Whatever your children’s needs, it is vital that the school provides an interesting, motivating, and engaging environment that your children can explore and excel in.
On some occasions, children need alternative teaching methods, which might not be available at certain schools. When you better understand the way your children learn, you can check the specific philosophies and programs that each school offers to help narrow down your searches.
For example, if your child has autism, you may want to seek out a school that offers special educational needs staff, or a specialist school, to best support your child. You can speak to individual schools to find out more about what they offer, for example, extra teaching support or separate lessons to help improve their skills, health and care plans, as well as additional funding.
There are tests and specialists you can speak to, as well as a lot of information online that can help you better explore and understand your children’s educational needs. It is important to remember that their needs and learning styles will also evolve as your children grow.
Learn about your child’s interests
Choosing a school that suits your children’s interests is just as important. However, this may be hard if your children are at a very young age. Spend some time exploring different activities with your children, and see which ones they seem to prefer and enjoy doing more.
You can then use this knowledge to express interest at different schools, to see what kind of subjects and programs they have to offer, for example, art, music or sports. This could be a particular subject they want to pursue as a career or something they enjoy doing as a hobby. Either way, understanding their personal interests (and separating them from yours) will help them excel in their education and future career. If they enjoy it, they will stay much more engaged and motivated.
Consider the location
The location of the school is an important factor to consider. If it is close by, it will be within walking distance so your children can easily get to school and establish some independence. It will also help them make friends that are close by to spend time with.
If the schools you are looking at are further away, this means you will need to consider how your children will get to school, for example, will this be by public transport, will you be able to drive them, or can they board at the school? It is also essential to consider the time it will take to travel and how that will impact your children. Is the journey short by public transport? Or will they be spending hours every week on public transport and miss out on opportunities to spend time with friends, family, or complete homework?
There will also be higher costs associated with schools that are further away and stricter entry criteria. These factors will all impact the quality of life of your children and are worth outweighing the education they will receive at the school.
Look at the test scores, ratings, and reviews
Conducting thorough research online will help build a good picture of the quality of the school you are considering. All parents want to send their children to the best schools, so reading accurate results, professional ratings, and previous parents’ opinions will give you a true insight into the school before you sign up.
This information will offer invaluable information and guidance, attest to their credibility and reliability, and hopefully make it easier for you to decide which school is best for your children. One factor, like the information on the school’s website or test scores alone, won’t tell you about the effectiveness of the school. Still, by researching a combination of information, you can determine what kind of school and environment.
Visit the school and talk to parents and staff
Although time-consuming, visiting the schools that you are considering for your children can give you the most significant insights of all. This will enable you to see what environment they will be spending their time in, what the faculty is like, whether you think it feels like a good fit, and give your children a chance to experience it for themselves.
Some schools offer taster days whereby children can sit in lessons and activities and play in the playground with peers. Your children will attend the school, so it is essential for them to like it as much as you. You can also take time to speak to and get to know the teachers, the principal, and other parents.
This gives you a better idea of how they relate to the students, what the school environment looks like, and how much parental involvement they have. Make sure you prepare a list of questions you feel are necessary to ask on your visit, such as styles of learning, extra curriculum, classroom sizes, teacher training, homework, etc.
Gathering all this information will provide you with a great insight into the schools you are considering and help you make the best decision for your children.