The right school for our Kids

Things to consider when choosing a school for your child.

WE have three Chinese schools in our neighbourhood. School A is well-known for its good results but school life is said to be stressful for the students. It is also rumoured that the children in the top class are more selfish.

School B is not bad but the teachers give a lot of homework and students find it stressful too. School C has a more relaxed learning environment. But we heard that discipline is lacking and the students are not doing as well academically as in the other two schools.

Many parents choose School C. They do not want their children to be stressed out at a young age. Some parents think that their children are not smart enough, so they do not want their children to be left behind in School A and B. Besides, some parents hope their children will get a place in the top class in School C. This will, hopefully, boost their children’s confidence.

How will I know if my children will be able to cope in School A or B? I worry in case they are unable to catch up with the class. Yet, I am reluctant to send my children to School C.

It will be painful to see them struggle academically. If they should get poor grades, will they feel defeated and helpless? If they can do well academically, it would be great.

Both my children love reading and often ask for extra activity books to do at home. Both children are introverts. My elder daughter has been attending half-day nursery since she was two years old. Now she is four-and-a-half. Her teacher says she is dreamy, passive and very quiet.

I do not know which school to choose. Please advise. – Worried Mum

ALL schools have their strengths and weaknesses. Every parent wants to choose the best possible learning environment for his or her children. Parents need to be informed and be prepared to help their children get the most in whatever school they attend.

While parents may wish to give their children every opportunity, remember that one need not attend the “best” school to be a happy and successful individual. Children do well in schools where they are supported and encouraged. They thrive in learning environments that suit them.

In choosing a school, you need to consider your child’s individual style, talents, interests and temperament. A school that has high academic demands may work for one child and not for the other in the same family. One child may excel in a setting where children have many choices and are allowed to learn independently. This may not be the same with his sibling who finds it hard to cope with too much time and freedom in his hands.

You must also consider your own values and beliefs when selecting the right school for your child. If you select a school based on its academic track record, you may find conflicting views with their discipline policy. The fact that one school has a great reputation for top academic achievements may not automatically make it the best choice for your child. What works for your friends and neighbours may not work for you and your child.

Keep in mind that you need a school that can strike a balance in its focus on both academic and non-academic work. A school is more than just subjects and teachers.

There are other aspects in the environment, such as student population and how discipline is conducted in the school. Parents need to evaluate the school on the basis of their children’s needs.

If possible, make visits to the schools in your neighbourhood. You cannot judge the school by what people say. Observe the learning environments and the students in each school. Get a chance to understand how things work in each school.

You need first-hand evaluation. Make a checklist of the things you want to see in a school for your children. Find out for yourself what these three schools are all about.

You may have found a wonderful school but end up with a teacher you consider less than ideal. Or you may have found a school that you are looking for, but it is not totally right for your child. There is no perfect school for every child and parent.

What you need to do is to find a school that most closely reflects your values and goals. Your child will do well in school when you are committed to working together to help him do his best. There is still a lot more work after you find the right school for your child.

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