On choosing the right school for your child

Patiently waiting for the bus for his first school field trip.

Patiently waiting for the bus for his first school field trip.

I’m posting on a topic that has been brewing in my mind for sometime. This is for parents in NL to think about when choosing the school for their children. From an  educator and a parent perspective, I would like to share my sentiments about choosing the right school for your child. I know this is something that a lot of us really look into because of the many different philosophies and types of schools available.
What I feel important is to ask ourselves the following questions:
a) does the school promote the same values as you do? by values I mean what do they hold as important for the children to learn? to do? to experience?
Montessori, Waldorf, Steiner schools were born out of that need to present other experiences for children that were not being given by the traditional school setting. OBS also have different approaches and programs for children with no emphasis on religion hence schools with religious orientations are available.
b) Along with the values, best to ask yourself, with the changing society (economics and skills wise), does the school promote a shift in learning that will cater to what students of the 21st century need to know?
I highly value what another friend shared about the longitudinal studies done on Dutch students (past 30 years) and how it showed most of the accomplished ones come from OBS (Openbareschool) and it might be so that the longitudinal studies of our children will either show similarities with those done from 30 years or show a complete opposite. Either way we wouldn’t be the ones affected but our children so the choices that we make for them now are important.
c) Lastly, not just learning about the philosophy and their practices are important but physically being in the school and interacting with the people around that would give you the last piece of the deciding factor. Does the school give you feeling that your child will be nurtured there?
Let’s face it, we as parents live busy lives and try in as much to provide the best possible connection with our children. But this does not stop in our homes, it extends to the school to the community. The interactions that your child will form with his/her peers and teachers and other parents help them form the attachment and connection that they need. Studies on positive attachment has given us a lot to think about when it comes to the type of interaction that we want for our children (and this is not just for babies I am talking about). How do the teachers respond to children? do they show genuine respect to what the child is saying? how do they respond to bullying? (this is after all one of the hard pressed problems facing children nowadays).
Is your school of choice a place where if you were a child would you feel happy to be in it? I know the last question might raise some eyebrows, but let’s face it, our children have the luxury of choice as compared to what we had  (in my case what we had in the Philippines). The choices might be daunting but it is good to know that at the end of all the decisions, we have the best intentions for our son/daughter in mind and with that the feeling that they will be nurtured and taught in a safe, responsive and loving environment.
Balancing what they will learn academically with how they will grow emotionally, physically and socially is important. What they will know academically and how they can use that in the future is a good investment but the best investment is how they are treated and what they are doing in the present.
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