“Minds are like parachutes, they only function when they are open.”- James Dewar
Sending your child to his first school- This is one of the critical and toughest time for parents where they must let go of the child in an environment where they will not be around to supervise. It is nevertheless one of the biggest factors to play a role in a child’s development. Selecting the school and going through the painful task of making your child comfortable there.
I will not be discussing what is the right time to send the child to a school because I believe this is a question of personal choice and comfort of parents more than anything else.
Once, you have made up your mind and ready to take the leap of letting go of your child for some time away from the comfort of home/family to explore all the new world and teaching him/her to be independent or to be on their own for some time will prepare them for the journey ahead.
Below are some of the aspects that one needs to be clear on while choosing the right school for their kid. It might not be possible to get all the below parameters fulfilled in 1 school and hence, identifying the top 5 priorities that’s non-negotiable will help in selecting the right school meant for your child. With plethora of choices available, it is important to not simply follow what other parents are doing, but making a conscious and suitable choice which will suit your child and also not be a huge burden on your day to day schedule.
1. Proximity: I stay in Bangalore, traffic can get annoying at time rather most of the times. This is key factor for those living in busy cities and travelling long distance for work so proximity either to home or workplace play a key role in your selection process.
2. Half day (schooling only) or Full day (Daycare): This could be gradual process in some cases, or could be full swing start for others depending upon the respective needs. However, it is always important to enquire about the school infrastructure to support longer hours (day care) if need be. I have observed in some daycares; the schooling and day care is managed by separate entities and it is imperative to ensure that it’s a seamless process.
3. Learning Mode /Model: Montessori, Waldorf are some of the popular model of imparting education /preschool learning these days. It is important to have some idea about where would you want your child to go for primary school and understand their preferred mode of education too. Some of these schools have their own play school and become easy direct admission to their Nursery and rest. Many popular chains like Klay, Euro Kids, Mothers Pride etc offer integrated approach making them open to future school choices.
4. Extension of School to Primary School: I have covered this is in the earlier point. It is always plus if your other top priorities are getting fulfilled.
5. Hygiene and Security /CCTV Coverage: Security is of paramount importance and concern of any parent sending their child to any school for first time. CCTV coverage could provide you a third eye to view your child activities. However, I feel it is more to do with feel good factor and for our satisfaction as you might not have time and decrease your viewing time as time progresses. Nevertheless, it is good to have one.
6. Food: In-house Vs Outsourced – This could be deal breaker for some parents, who don’t have option for their kids to carry Dabba before they leave for school. Hence, one can check if its managed internally or outsourced to some other organization. On other hand, some schools allow kids to carry their own food which they can heat and serve. These days they are many companies that are serving lunch boxes for kids like monkey box etc which parents can tie up with to deliver food at school premises.
7. Indoor Vs Outdoor Activities: In my opinion, I had always wanted a daycare that has some outdoor activity i.e. sun time. I prefer them over confined air-conditioned daycare with no out time.
8. Tie ups with Corporates or not: This could help making the right decision from financial perspective as it become important parameter as well for many parents esp. in case of parents with twins.
9. Popularity/Ratings/Reviews in your area: This helps in validating your decision and makes you aware of the pros/cons of the place.
10. Option of Transport: Pick-ups/drops – This is certainly a plus if your choice of school is at distance and need some help in pick up and drops. I personally wanted some more time to get comfortable with this option. Hence, proximity is one of the key parameter in my decision.
11. Staff: Quality and Gender Mix- This helps in identifying you are putting your child under right influence and building block for the learning phase. Typically, I have observed all play school to have approximately 1:10 ratio for a teacher and kids. They mostly have additional caretaker (aaya/maid) to support with cleaning/diaper changing process. Teacher to student ratio could be another criterion you might want to focus on to check the attention you would like your kid to receive. Some people prefer all ladies staff within premises for better security esp. with girl child and again a personal choice to factor that in.
Here are my top 5 – Proximity, Half Day to full Day transition possible, Security, Staff Quality and tie ups with Corporates for better affordability. Choose yours.
Explore the entire collection of articles: Early Learning & Brain Development
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