The African American political leader Malcolm X once said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” The quote, quite succinctly, emphasises the importance of education in preparing our posterity for the world of tomorrow, and the first step in this direction is the choice of a good school that provides learning which will stand them in good stead in the future.
How do you choose a school that will prepare your child for a dynamic future where global conditions are constantly in flux? There is a broad array of indicators that parents should consider while making this choice.
Here are the four keys that will help you select a school best poised to provide the most effective education for your child.
1. Curriculum and co-curricular activities
To a large extent, a good school stands apart because of its curriculum. The most common curriculum choices today are those developed by the various state boards, CISCE (The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations), CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education), IB (International Baccalaureate programme), and CAIE (Cambridge Assessment International Education).
The depth and breadth of the curriculum, and pedagogical methodology, influence your child’s higher education and career trajectories. If your child plans to pursue higher education in the US, you might want to consider a curriculum that is US-recognised. Also, some multinational companies prefer to employ candidates who possess qualifications from specific boards. Hence, you need to conduct thorough research into each school’s curriculum offerings.
While the curriculum is a criterion, the school should also provide opportunities to help develop your child’s physical and cognitive skills and overall personality. It should offer a range of co-curricular activities, such as outdoor sports, art and craft, performing arts, and hobby classes. These should be an essential part of a student’s learning experience, as they help imbibe team spirit, self-confidence, and leadership skills. A curriculum that is weighted heavily towards academics may not facilitate the development of these critical life skills, entailing that a perfect blend of curricular and co-curricular studies is vital for the holistic development of students.
Details about the curriculum and co-curricular activities offered by a school are usually available on the school website and in the school prospectus.
2. Student-teacher ratio
Small class sizes are known to have a positive effect on children’s learning. A lower student-teacher ratio accords to more opportunities for students to participate in class discussions, ask questions, and express opinions.
A lower student-teacher ratio can also help improve teaching, and thereby, the learning outcomes. With fewer students in each class, faculty can pay individualised attention to each child. They can then tailor their instruction based on the needs of each student and allocate more resources to those who may be struggling with one or more aspects of their studies. Teachers can also spend more time ensuring that each student comprehends the curriculum and gets the help they need to reach their full potential.
To know the teacher-to-student ratio of a school, seeking guidance from available resources and the campus can be helpful.
3. Teaching and learning style
As we all know, no two individuals are the same. A 1992 study described four distinct types of learning among students, known as the acronym VARK, or Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinaesthetic. For instance, if your child learns more effectively through images and graphics, she/he may be a visual learner. Similarly, children can also be auditory, reading/writing, or kinaesthetic (tactile) learners. It only means that their strengths differ and are efficient in learning and demonstrating their abilities and knowledge in different ways. For teachers, attuning to such distinctions can help them understand how best to connect with each student.
A teacher’s pedagogical style can also impact a student’s ability to learn and comprehend. There are the two different, student-centric styles that are most suitable for a child’s growth and development:
“ Inquiry-based: This learning style involves students leading the session, thus encouraging independence and hands-on learning.
“ Cooperative-based: This learning style promotes experiential, peer-to-peer, or interactive projects.
To know about the teaching and learning styles of a school, personal visits and conversations with the principal can be helpful.
4. Your child’s needs and interests
You must take into account your child’s strengths, weaknesses, and interests while researching schools. Asking some questions can help here: Are they into the arts? Do they love sports? Are they interested in science? Is your child struggling with math? Does your child have any special learning needs?
Look for a school that will cater to their individual needs, encourage their strengths, and help them work on their weaknesses.
It is imperative that the school your child attends, starting from the primary level, is the best fit for the long haul. With these factors in mind, you will be equipped with the knowledge necessary to make the best educational decision for your child. We wish you all the best!
By Kavita Sahay Kerawalla, Vice Chairperson, VIBGYOR Group of Schools.
Docente - Investigadora Educativa.
Doctora en Cs. de la Educación, Magíster en Desarrollo Curricular y Licenciada en Relaciones Industriales.