Choosing the right school for your child

Do your values as a family fit in with the values of the school?

When it comes to choosing the right school for your mainstream child, these are some of the things to consider:

1. What does your gut say?  (It might sounds flaky, but I consider your first instinct when it comes to schools to be the most important.  Parents usually know their children better than anyone and know what kind of environment would suit their child best). Does it feel like a happy place? Do the staff seem positive, accommodating and experienced?
2. What are the school fees?  Keep in mind that there might be lots of little things you did not bargain on (camps, sports uniforms, etc).  In my experience it is often better to put a child in a (good) school that is easily within your budget and then still be able to allow them to do all sorts of extra-curricular activities, than to put a child in a school where all the money goes to school fees and the child can do nothing but attend class.
3. What is the school’s main focus?  I find that some schools focus solely on academics to the detriment of sports and culture which are so important for developing the whole child. But then again, some kids simply aren’t sporty – if you feel that your child will do better in an environment where participation in sport is not a requirement, consider placement in the academic school.
4. Which is most easily accessible? If travelling to and from school is cumbersome it may mean that your child will not be able to attend fun events such as plays, sports day, fete’s, etc because it is too far to travel to school. It might also mean that your house will be too far away for friends to come on play dates, which is often vital to establishing solid, lasting friendships.
5. How does the school’s values fit in with your values as a family? Do you enjoy tradition and the rich history (and often pride) that comes with attending an old, well-established school or do you find these things stuffy and restrictive?  How do you as a family expect to fit in with the family profile of other families attending the school?