Finding the right school for your child can seem like quite a challenge. I remember a time when there were 3-4 best schools in the city and parents were happy putting their children in either of these schools. Almost everyone around you put their children in those few schools. Today the scenario is quite different. There are so many aspects a school has to cope up with, and so many view points for a parent that we are left perplexed with this decision.

I receive this question on a constant basis, what is the best school to send my child to? I would say there is nothing like the best school. I ask them to reframe that question to, “What is the best school for my child?” Each child needs something different, unique to their needs. A school that may help one child flourish may be detrimental for another child, depending on the child’s temperament. I know parents who send their three children to three different schools and are happy with all the three schools. They say it is best for that particular child. I also know parents who have put both their children in the same school, and have seen one child flourish while the other suffer and not progress. Changing the school for that child has helped. 

There are a few things you could keep in mind while choosing the right school for your child.

At the end of the day, what the child learns directly from his/her mentor is going to have a huge impact on their learning. If we all look back at our school life, we’ll realize how we have been drawn towards or developed a keen interest towards certain subjects, cause we were inspired by the teacher. This can also go the other way round. If a mentor is not encouraging or inspiring to children, they can be demotivated to learn. I do believe that there is no child who doesn’t want to learn. Mentors just have to figure out how children enjoy that process of learning. So are the mentors willing to do that?

When I am training teachers in schools, I tend to form an impression of what the classroom learning looks like, or feels like ,not just by the knowledge, but also the attitude of the mentors. 

Often we dwell in the infrastructure and other things, and miss out on this one thing that matters the most for our children, i.e good mentors.

Not to say infrastructure isn’t important. A good learning ambience can go a long way. Whether it is classrooms, learning labs, library or sports, it all plays a crucial role in shaping children in their growing years. However few aspects like infrastructure are just tip of the iceberg. We need to consider a lot beyond these things as well 

I have visited so many schools, and I love to meet the founders and the principal/ head. It is often interesting to see how the general culture of the school reflects the founders’ or the principal’s vision for that school. In many ways it is almost like deciding what organization you would like to work for, being inspired by the founder. Your children are going to spend most of their waking hours in that school, for most of their growing years. The culture of the school is as important, as the culture that our children are exposed to, at home. 

When we talk about the culture and vision of the founders, we also need to look at the education philosophies and approach to teaching, that the school follows. I have personally always been a huge fan of certain education philosophies and pedagogies, like those of Jiddu Krishnamurti and Rudolf Steiner. You know your child more than anyone else, so do explore whether the school’s philosophies match your own beliefs, and values regarding education. In many ways your children will still be developing their personalities, so they will not have any preference or opinion as to what they need or want. As parents we have to choose what philosophy will be best for them, and where we feel they will thrive. 

Again even as you choose the best school for your child, not every child in his/her class will be the same. I believe every child is so unique, so the question to ask here is ‘Does the school incorporate innovative teaching methods?’ And maybe a curriculum that is holistic and caters to various learning styles. 

Another thing that has helped me a lot is talking to current parents, and understanding what they feel, and if they are satisfied with the school’s offerings. I would prefer to discuss this with not 1-2 parents, but at least a dozen of them, to get an overall perspective.

When we talk about culture we should also consider the peer group that your child is going to spend maximum time with, and learning from. Starting from social development to cultural exposure. There is a lot of behavioral influence that can come from the peer group at school and not to forget the life long friendships your child will develop. 

Choosing the best school for your child can sometimes seem like a cumbersome task. It does require careful consideration of various factors. Just remember that there is no one right school for everyone, so refrain from following a certain ‘FAD’, and following the herd. You can make an informed decision that aligns with your child’s educational needs. Remember, the right school is not just about academic excellence, but also about fostering a positive and enriching environment for your child's holistic development.

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