Choosing the right school :what to keep in mind while finding your child’s first school

-Anubhuti Poudyal

The agony that comes from choosing whatever is right for your kid starts quite early in your parenthood, and one of the biggest decisions you face is choosing the right path to your kid’s education.

Ever wondered why you became a parent in the first place? I am pretty sure once in a while you look back in time when your decisions made (or ruined) your future and your life. But those days are gone. Now you have more than your life depending on you. Today a “yes” or a “no” very much determines the tomorrow of the little one you decided to bring into the world. The responsibility is immense and the options, well limited. How will you decide what is right then?

The magnanimity of education
There was a time when education meant learning. As a part of “socialization”, we moved to the outside world and learnt what was right and wrong. But, today, this tray has so many foods that a wrong item could mean the entire meal is ruined. You don’t want to take the risk.
Education today is different

While the world ran when we were kids, today it is going at a pace that makes it impossible to recognize. The mesmerizing smartphone is a necessity and people have stopped talking about the internet as a wonder anymore. If we do not educate the kids properly, they have a big (huge!) chance of lagging behind.

It isn’t just about academics anymore. Kids today are as smart as a smartphone with multiple functions that our generation doesn’t really understand. We need to look for a way to enhance their intelligence while supporting their extracurricular activities.

It is international now. We cannot expect children to be “good” in his/her school. The bar has been raised and the international market is immensely competitive. We need to provide a sturdy support for the children’s betterment.

And all this has to happen without pressurizing the children. We know that the world focuses on making it right for the children’s education. However, little importance is given on the parents’ knowledge of correct decision-making when it comes to the right school. After all, they are the ones with the final say!

Spell education correctly
Education has been defined and redefined by many over time. The most appreciated idea today is the holistic approach. You do not want your kids to learn French. You want them to learn poetry, music, and French. It is a world where many elites are born by options that are more often than not chosen by the parents.

First of all, it is important to know what you want out of a child. Do you want him to excel academically? Do you want him to learn the whereabouts of the world? Do you want him to actually love life and make his own decisions? How involved do you want him in music or art? And so on.

Bina Gurung, founder and director of Pre-School Ketaketi Bari and founder of Samdarshi Vidya Mandir, agrees by saying, “Individual parents need to decide what they value the most in their children. It is then that the decision can be made.”

Conflict and competition
There are different layers to competition when it comes to children’s education. The first is the competition among schools which makes it difficult to choose the right one from a bunch of hoaxes. The second is competition among parents. The elites are defined very much by the schools they send their children to. Amidst all this, the actual motive of better education can very well go neglected.

The entire “business” of education makes it difficult to make a good decision. But the key is not to lose focus. The entire point of education is to help the child excel in the qualities you know s/he has. Everything else is secondary.

Distance and duration
The distance and the duration matter when it comes to children. I remember my brother stuck in Koteshwor in his school bus everyday for at least an hour in the morning and evening. That is a long time wasted. Do we want children to go to a school far from home given the traffic congestion? Is it worth their time and yours?

Similarly, choosing a mediocre school just because it is closer cannot be good reason. Look for a middle ground.

Teachers are the key
Especially in the early years of life, in pre-school or lower standards, interaction with the teacher is a key learning process. A school with good infrastructure helps. But it might also be integral to see if your kid enjoys the environment, especially the interaction with teachers.

You can even try and see if the teachers have additional skills. Schools which retain teachers are usually regarded as good places for your kids. Teachers who are satisfied with their work can help your children better. Also, see if teachers are in a constant learning process. You might also want to see if students are correctly evaluated, if teachers have supervision, or if there is an overall environment of cordial growth, both as an institution and as its employee.

Passion and value
It is a key to any institution. You need to find a place where you feel your kid will learn. Learn not just the mathematics and history but the key values of life. You will feel a place with great passion to work when you visit the right one. The interaction with teachers, principles, students, or even prospective parents will give you an idea what the place is about. But, again, keep what you feel above what others tell you.

Think (not over-think)
There are choices. True. And you have big decisions. But the more you think about it as a burden, the bigger a challenge you are posing for yourself and your children. Imagine your child’s agony when s/he realizes the hassle you’re going through looking for the best school. It can be a fun process if you want it to.

Choices are good
Visiting the school is the key. “You must go visit many schools, know the curriculum, the environment, physical and social, the teachers, and the principal. Make a comparison and make your choice if there is an opportunity to make a choice. Sometimes you may not have many choices. But the most important factor is for you to look at the schools yourself and not run after the choices of others,” shares Bina Gurung.

Start as early as possible and visit the schools. You could take your child along. You can see where s/he feels most connected to. Choices are always good if you have the skill and the will to choose the best.

Expensive vs. non-expensive
Are expensive schools better? It has been an age old question. But experts think it cannot be the only demarcation of the best from the rest. “It is not at all true that expensive schools have better education. Expense has nothing to do with good education. A good education can also be received in a non-expensive school. It all depends on your value,” shares Bina Gurung.

It is true that it all comes down to your values and how much of the school’s value matches yours. The basics are the key. Cutting the long story short—find a place you find most connected to the education it is trying to give. The infrastructure and resources all count in your children’s development. Look for the best which might not necessarily be the most expensive. In the end, it is about your child and no one else. Happy hunting!

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