As a parent of the new generation, I have discovered that it is never too early to start thinking about schools for your child. The early childhood years go very quickly and in the blink of an eye your child will be ready to start school. If you haven’t done any preliminary research, you may find yourself struggling to figure out which is the best school for your child. Don’t fret – these 5 steps from William Citrin (Education Destination Malaysia) will help set you on the right path…
Step 1 – Reflect on your child’s educational needs and your priorities as a parent
Ask yourself these three fundamental questions:
1. Who is my child as a learner?
- Would he or she thrive in a traditional, teacher-centered structure or a more enquiry-based learning environment?
- Which curriculum would best suit him or her?
- Does he or she have special needs as a learner and require individualized attention and support?
- Does he or she have special talents or interests inside or beyond the classroom?
2. What are my long-term educational plans and goals for my child?
- What are the essential skills and abilities – specific languages, academic subjects, extra-curricular pursuits such as a sport or performing art, etc. – that you want your child to acquire?
- Where will your child ultimately attend college or university?
3). What are my requirements and needs as a parent?
- Which factors – cost, location, school size, curriculum, facilities, etc. – are most important to you?
Step 2 – identify the factors that matter to you most
- Overall school size and average class size
- Levels of education offered
- History and accreditation
- Teachers’ credentials
- Curricula and programs offered
- Extra-Curricular activities
- Facilities and security
Step 3 – Research and learn about schools. Identify those that meet your criteria
Once you have determined which of the above factors are the most important to you and your child and defined what type of school you are looking for, you can start researching the various international and private schools. Start with an online school directory to help you identify a list of potential schools (Education Destination Malaysia is a good resource site if you’re living in Malaysia). This is an excellent way to begin learning about what various schools have to offer.
As you start to narrow down your options, you will also want to visit the schools’ websites to learn more. You can also try to seek out parents of students in the schools you are considering – possibly in online forums or chat groups or through community connections – to hear their experiences and get their opinions. Ultimately, you should make a shortlist of five to ten schools that meet your requirements.
Step 4 – Visit each of the schools on your shortlist
It is imperative that you and your child take the time to visit each and every school on your shortlist, to get an up close and personal look at what those schools have to offer. Contact the schools you’re interested in and make an appointment to visit during regular school hours. Only by actually going to a school – speaking with the principal and teachers about the school’s core values and learning methodology, observing the students in action in the classrooms, getting a guided tour of the facilities – can you get a real feel for the school’s “personality”. Visiting a school is the best way to learn about it and to decide if it is the right fit for your child.
Step 5 – Choose a school
Now that you and your child have had the chance to visit and experience all of the schools on your shortlist, it’s time to make a decision. Speak in depth with your child and get his or her input about the various schools you are considering. Ultimately the school must meet most, if not all, of your needs and requirements and “feel” right – especially for your child.
Choosing a school for your child is a critically important decision, one that will impact the rest of his or her life. Invest the time and energy necessary to ensure that you make the best decision possible for your child and his or her future.