Ivy Education Tips - Choosing your child's school

Parents make thousands of decisions every day, some more important than others. Am I going to let him have another scoop of ice cream for dessert? Should we book a holiday over the Christmas break? Do we have enough time to prepare for the end of year exams? Constantly being faced with decisions can feel overwhelming, especially when it comes to the big ones, like choosing the right school for your child. There are many factors to consider when making this important decision. Here’s an outline of a few considerations we think are especially useful.

Finding the right fit

The first important thing that needs to be considered is location. Depending on where you live, there may be a myriad of options for you to choose from. Or the opposite might be true, and you may have only a few schools available. Younger children will likely need an adult to accompany them to and from school, making location especially important for the parent, guardian or Au-pair looking after the child. Tweens and teens on the other hand, could travel to school by themselves which broadens the list of schools to choose from. Young or old, every parent wants their child to be safe. Regardless, every parent wants their child to be safe. The mode of transport taken to get there and the school itself should provide a safe and secure environment for your child and this is an important consideration to keep in mind when selecting schools.

Compiling a shortlist of schools requires thought. Once you have that list, you then have to consider the person who will be attending the chosen school every day: your child. It is a good idea to make a list of the key characteristics of your child that would impact their physical and mental well-being at school. Do they have a learning barrier? If so, you might want to consider a school with excellent SEN support. Are they an aspiring athlete? Choose a school with the right athletic program so that they can flourish in their chosen sport. Are they exceptionally bright, yet lack the self-discipline to reach their full potential? If so, you might want to consider a school with strict rules and boundaries with the goal of instilling self-discipline in the long term. After putting together an idea of what sort of school may be best suited to your child, you can then get into the nitty-gritty.

Arranging a school visit is always a good idea. For those of us who trust our gut feeling above anything else, meeting the Head Teacher, support staff, other pupils and other parents can give us an immediate feel for the school. Invite your child to come with you when visiting your chosen schools, this will make them feel more involved in the process and motivate them to take ownership of their academic journey. Who knows. They may even be more observant than you and pick up on things that you might’ve otherwise missed.

The personality and professionalism of each and every staff member at a school impacts your child on a daily basis, especially if your child will be attending a boarding school. Of course, there are other considerations to account for when choosing the right school for your child and friendly faces on school visits do not guarantee automatic success, however, it is important to acknowledge the impact of people.

Different parents will have different criteria and different ways of measuring schools against their criteria. Entering secondary school is a major turning point in a child’s life and the environment in which they learn will have a significant impact on their ability to flourish, their agency, and their overall academic success.

Sometimes, there are sentimental attachments to schools that can’t really be put into words. Perhaps, you want your child to go to the school you went to, and that your parents went to as well. Perhaps, you want your child to go to the school that you never got the opportunity to go to.

The last few years of secondary school are extremely important as they prepare your child for university or for the world of work. As children become older, they will start to take on a more active role and want to make decisions for themselves. As a parent, it is important to allow your child the agency to make their own decisions. However, this must be balanced carefully with what you think and know is right for them as their decisions may be influenced by those of their peers.

When it comes to university applications and leaving school, the curriculum followed by a school, its benefits and shortfalls come to the forefront for many parents. It is important to consider a school’s ability to prepare your child for entrance exams, university interviews and the subject matter of the course they will want to study or the work they will want to pursue.

Choosing the right school for your child is an important decision that will be best made by collaborating with your child. Whether they are entering Year 1 or leaving primary school, showing your child that you value their decision making is important in fostering agency and building a positive relationship with them. Now, onto the next decision: what are you cooking for dinner tonight?

We hope you’ve found these recommendations useful. If you’d like to talk about choosing a school with us, please don’t hesitate to contact Ivy Education today!

Alastair - Ivy Education - Author of Ivy Education Tips - Choosing your child's school

BY Alastair

Alastair Delafield is the Managing Director and founder of Ivy Education.

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