Choosing a school is one of the most difficult, yet critical decisions parents have to make as it can have a huge bearing on the childâ€™s future.
Choosing a school for their child is one of the most difficult decisions parents have to make. And why not? A school is where children spend the maximum time outside the home in their formative years, where they learn the basics of life, where their introduction to the world begins, and where the foundation of their future is laid. Any amount of time and effort spent looking for the right school that provides opportunities to help develop childrenâ€™s physical and cognitive skills, shape them for the future, and equip them to deal with lifeâ€™s challenges may not be unwarranted.
The decision is a crucial one, especially looking at the speed and manner in which the world around us is evolving. While there is no doubt that learning depends a lot on children, the right learning environment and the right teachers are a must to set them on track for a successful life.
I am confident this column will serve as a simple guide for parents who are looking for the right school for their children.
One of the first and most important things parents must look at while searching for the right school is the quality of education, especially the quality of teaching. Does the school have the right teachers for the right job? The student-teacher ratio is one of the most crucial indicators as it could be the difference between teachers focusing on teaching students instead of teaching lessons.
The brandâ€™s reputation on a national and international scale are also key factors parents must consider, apart from feeling the vibe of the school. Is the learning environment truly conducive to developing the childâ€™s 9 intelligences? Are multi sensory experiences a part of the childâ€™s learning journey, especially in the primary years. It is well-established by neuroscience that a childâ€™s brain can grasp things quickly and in a much better way when they are having fun while learning. The learning centers of a childâ€™s brain, the Hippocampus is located right next to, and connected with the emotional center of the brain, the Amygdala. A school that can tune its emotional climate to build the EQ, the emotional quotient of its children will develop lifelong successful learners. A skilled school knows how to make sure learning is not a burden, but something children enjoy and look forward to.
While academics are the top priority for most parents when zeroing in on a school, extracurricular activities are equally important in todayâ€™s world. All work and no play can stifle young brains, and there is no reason why learning should be limited solely to academics. An ideal choice would be a school that focuses on the overall and comprehensive development of children by encouraging participation in extracurricular activities as well as focusing on academics. The co-curricular activities such as sports, arts, performing arts, music, or any other, are essential parts of the holistic learning experience and help imbibe qualities such as discipline, team spirit, self-confidence, and leadership in children.
Another factor that parents must consider while searching for the right school is the availability of physical infrastructure. Are the classrooms airy and well-lit? Do they have enough space for children to study comfortably? Does the school have a lively, extensive library? Are there adequate laboratories and computers, and what is the ratio of equipment to child? These facilities are vital for theoretical as well as practical learning and are a must in any school.
Moreover, no two children are the same. Every child learns differently. Each has his strengths and weaknesses, and it is not fair to measure everyoneâ€™s success with the same yardstick. The right school would be one that provides young learners with the ideal learning environment where they are not limited by anything in their endeavours to learn and discover their inherent talents.
Another important element, especially considering the uncertain times we live in, is value for money. Whether a particular school provides value for the fees it charges. Whether the school fees and other charges fit in the parentâ€™s budget? Most parents want only the very best for their child, but stretching beyond a point is not advisable and may not be sustainable. It could also be counterproductive as the stress that may come from overshooting the budget could even impact the childrenâ€™s performance, academic and otherwise.
It is also equally essential not to get overawed by the outward appearance of any school. Ultimately, it is the quality of education and the learning environment that matters for a childâ€™s growth, and the historical legacy of the brand.
Distance is another factor to consider while choosing the school for your children, especially young kids. It may not sound like a major thing, but given a choice how many parents would want to travel 30-40 km or even more every day. Traveling long distances between home and school can be tiring for children. The extra time spent commuting could be utilized in resting, studying, or even playing. Even for older children, say someone studying in standard 10 or 12, the travel time could eat into valuable studying time. Parents go to great lengths to ensure the comfort of children, and the travel distance and time must not be ignored. Moreover, the larger the distance, the greater the transportation costs. All of this can be avoided by choosing a school that is within a few kilometres of the home.
As someone who is shouldering 94 years of legacy of an organization that has earned a reputation for its student-centric approach since 1927, I can write a lot more about practical tips that should be followed as a guide for students, teachers and parents.
I am extremely proud of the fact that for the Podar family and some of the educationists I know personally, education was, is, and will always remain a mission, and not a business.
As an educationist, I can say that any school that meets the above criteria and centres all its action plans around the child is the right school for your child.
At Podar World School, the focus is completely on ensuring the best learning environment for our stars to nurture them through learner-centric teaching practices and a widely accepted curriculum that focuses on the Explore, Experience, and Implement model. We believe the key is to encourage the young minds to think and question, inculcate the right values, and equip them with the necessary skills that will help them become responsible citizens of tomorrow.
By Raghav Podar