Parenting is no easy task. It’s challenging and tedious and often consists of constant doubt regarding every decision. The hurdles are never-ending. If a parent overcomes the battle of raising a child past the tantrum-driven toddler stage, they come face to face with another monumental stage! The academic years begin to creep in, and even before their commencement, parents have the difficult task of enrolling the child into a school. Coupled with figuring out the process of school admissions, this stage can be incredibly anxiety-inducing. And we cannot forget about the additional practical and psychological worries. Before enrolling their child in school, a parent’s mind is clouded with endless questions. The most common search on websites shows that parents have the same concerns, whether it’s rural or urban India. In the case of schools, a parent in Maharashtra might be googling the best international schools in Mumbai, while another parent in Kashmir might be contemplating if a state board is more preferable. And of course, there is the age-old dilemma of choosing old schools that have been around for years or opting for newer technology-driven schools?
School years – Foundational and Formative
As parents, we want only the best for our children. A school is critical in the formative years. Not only does it help in education but also the development of various social and cognitive skills. It helps the child to build their own identity and prepares them to interact with the world. It is the bedrock on which the foundation of future career and personality is constructed. And thus, all parents want their child to be a part of a prestigious institution that enhances their growth and development.
But the problem arises when parents have to choose a school. It is difficult to know which school might work best for a child. Of course, some schools have had generations pass out from them, and their reputation is widespread. On the other hand, there are relatively newer schools cropping up everywhere, with advanced teaching and learning techniques. Great schools may not remain so over time, curriculums may shift, the staff, administration, and ideologies may change. New schools may have an excellent infrastructure but might be lacking in experience. Specific school admissions require early planning, whereas other schools select students based on interviews. The uncertainty only widens in big urban cities, such as Delhi or Mumbai. Best international schools in Mumbai or Delhi are eye-catching but usually not affordable for all. Hence, the list of conundrums is long, making it difficult for parents to set their heart and mind on a school of their choice.
If you are looking for a way to narrow down your potential choices, it’s best to decide on the particular areas you want the school to excel in. Some examples of features that a parent should keep in mind while trying to choose a good school are:
Fees and expenses –
School admissions for children depend on many factors, the financial aspect being one of the most critical. For example, some schools might ask for donations during school admissions, while one school’s yearly fees can be quite steep compared to other schools. As parents, it is vital to keep affordability in mind without compromising on quality. Education expenditure doesn’t end with just fees; a parent should look into the cost of extracurriculars/tours and other events that might need monetary contribution.
Facilities and infrastructure –
Does the school have a big playground? Are the labs well equipped? Are the classrooms spacious and well ventilated? These are some of the criteria parents should keep in mind while choosing a school. However, this does not mean that the school should only have world-class amenities, but the basic infrastructure to facilitate a child’s safety and comfortable learning is necessary.
Exams, curriculum, and extracurricular –
It is viable for parents with transferable jobs to enroll the child in a CBSE or CISCE board school. These central boards’ education methods and curriculum do not change much even if the child switches schools. In India, each state has its own state board too. The state boards usually emphasize the state’s local or regional language, and their syllabus also varies from one state to another. On the other hand, IB and IGCSE boards are followed in the good schools in Mumbai, Delhi, and other cities. Besides the syllabus, parents also need to consider the extracurricular activities offered to the students. They should research whether the school is only academically orientated or encourages the child’s overall development through sports, creativity, debates, etc.
Staff and administrators –
A school is best recognized by its teachers. The quality, qualifications, and ratio of teachers can be used to gauge the school’s standard. A school must hire qualified teachers, such as those with a B.Ed for higher classes or a degree in Elementary Education for the lower classes. Similarly, teachers should hold relevant degrees in their respective subjects. According to the Right to Education (RTI), the ideal student-teacher ratio in a class for efficient learning is 30:1. This creates a proper balance where teachers can give attention to each student. As parents, it’s essential to know the size of the class and the number of sections during school admissions. Sometimes, there are so many students and sections in every batch that it becomes hard to know if they will get individual attention and equal opportunities due to high competition.
Proximity and transportation –
A couple of generations ago, parents only bothered about the proximity of school from home. A school that was close to home was always the first choice. But today, the story is quite different. In the hope of sending the child to the best schools in Mumbai, Bangalore, or any other city, parents don’t mind enrolling their kids into faraway schools. However, most medical experts advise sending children to a school that is not too far from home. With a nearby school, the child wastes less time commuting. Thus it decreases the chances of fatigue, stress, and other ailments. But if you are not satisfied with the schools around your home, then a quick check of the transportation options that the school provides comes in handy. Does the school provide a bus service? Or can children avail of a bus pass for travel? Having the knowledge, you can decide if the school is worth the time and expense.
Reviews and hearsay –
One of the best ways to vet schools is to talk to ex-students or parents of children currently studying there. Conversing with them will help you get a sense of the school’s feasibility, standard, and education quality. Also, many websites and organizations post the list of top schools in cities or states annually.
Last but not least, school admissions are an essential landmark for both the parents and the students. Enrolling the child in a good school is a dream of every parent. Your child could be studying in the international schools in Mumbai, in a government school in Delhi, in a public school in Jaipur, or a private school in Kolkata. In the end, what matters most is the attitude and upbringing of the parents as well as the teachers. Sometimes even the best of schools cannot handle or understand the requirements of a child, whereas a small school can make a big difference in their life. The school and the nurturing of parents work in tandem to mould and shape a child into a rounded, emotionally, socially, and intellectually developed adult.