Choosing a school that’s a good fit for the whole family
20 February 2019 FAMILY
By: Natasha Archary
One of the most challenging decisions you’ll make as a parent, aside from what to feed your child every day, comes when the little one has to start school. Not every parent can afford private schooling and sometimes the only option is a school that is close to home. But is this school a good fit for your child and will it work for your whole family?
I’ve recently been researching, scouting and visiting schools throughout the city to find one that I’m comfortable with. My only priority has been safety. Is it a secure location? Do they have the full biometric access feature throughout the campus? Are there web cameras in the event there’s an incident? Are the teachers vetted? What is the teacher to child ratio?
In short, will the school give me the peace of mind I’m looking for? I want a school that will ensure my child’s safety is a priority. But did I stop to think whether the school will be a good fit for my child?
Consider your child’s strengths
Every parent of a creative will understand how a rigid and inflexible system can restrict their expressive child. There are some children who thrive is a structured, purely academic syllabus. Others may prefer the inclusion of more sporty classes. Let’s not forget those kids who have an innate passion for technology. Drama and the arts. Linguistics.
With each child being so different and possessing strengths that are unique, parents should use these key character traits to decide on a school. It will help guide you in choosing a school that will hone, shape and nurture your child to grow.
Having a child who at four, is capable of programming a smart device, means that I will need to find a school that accommodates a digital curriculum. Do we wait for the President’s SONA promise for a tablet to reach every child in the country in 6 years?
If you want to set your child back a good few years, sure, let’s wait, shall we?
It’s a frustrating process trying to secure your child a seat in a classroom these days. Piles of paperwork. Waiting lists that have no guarantees. Exorbitant non-refundable fees, that do not secure your child’s name on said waiting list. Honestly, it feels like you’re bribing your child into a good school. Only to be told, thank you for your contribution, although on paper it looks like you can afford our school, your money’s not good enough.
And just like that, you’re a few noughts lighter on your bank balance and still searching for a school with good values, strong ethos and a solid learning structure. Private schools do offer more options with dedicated sport and music curriculums. Bigger facilities and most offer parents an online communication portal to liaise with educators in a non-invasive manner.
While you do get a little extra peace of mind, let’s not forget the damning cases of sexual assault in recent years that have been brought to the fore. As a result, many parents are opting for schools that are not gender specific. An integrated private school system, that is dual medium.
Something that is important for me, is a progressive school that will grow each year to include a higher grade. So, a school that transitions my child from Grade R up to matric. Most private schools do not offer that. It’s either a primary or a high school. I personally find this structure to be dated and want a school that we can both grow with.
Daycares are an important first structure to set a firm and stable foundation phase in early childhood development. Unfortunately, many public schools fall short. With a shocking 80% of Grade 4 learners unable to read, in a 2017 literacy survey.
On the one hand, our politicians vehemently deny there’s a crisis with our public education system. But the numbers allude to a different truth. One which a parent’s persistent fear to secure their child’s future is justified.
Public schools have come under the spotlight of late for a number of violent attacks between and amongst students, as well as between educators and learners. Shocking cellphone videos that have gone viral on social media, paint a bleak outlook on the state of the nation’s schools.
There are also the shortfalls when it comes to resources, poor facilities, and a basic education system that is dated and not advancing with the technological times. Recently, a building structure collapsed at a public school in the country, killing four learners, injuring scores.
This is not to say that public schools all fall into the same run of the mill category. No. Some of the top performing schools in the 2018 matric year came from public schools across the country. So, the question is, how do you choose a school that is a good fit for your entire family?
Here’s what you should consider
- Does the school offer an aftercare facility?
- How is the school set-up to accommodate different grades and age groups?
- Is it a holistic approach that the school adopts? Or are they purely academic and theory based in structure?
- Is the examination for matric a National Senior Certificate or an IEB?
- Will the commute to and from work with your family’s daily schedule?
- What is the school’s discipline structure like?
- Is there a qualified health professional or school nurse on campus at all times?
- Are meals included in the fee structure?
- What additional costs do you need to consider?
- Can you afford the school?
- Will your child cope in the school?
- Does the school’s religious ethos fit in line with your families’ religious beliefs?
- Does the school have safety measures in place for pick-ups and drop-offs that will give you peace of mind?
Am I one step closer to finding a school that will work for my family? I believe so. Now we just have to play the waiting game to find out if we’re accepted. Until then, I encourage parents who are still looking a school, Grade R or higher to look at a few schools that match closely to your ideal school.
You need to have a safety net in the form of multiple backup plans.
What were you looking for in a school for your little one? Share with us, by tweeting @KayaFM95dot using the hashtag #KayaOnline.