Choosing a School for Your Kids: The Formula

Whiteboard with apple resting on topAs parents, our choice of appropriate school for our kids needs to be re-evaluated every year. If our child is going to spends up to 13 years at school, we should be giving our choice some consideration at least 13 times.

Unfortunately, some people just send their kids to the closest school. Sometimes, it is the only school available and in fact, they do not really have much of a choice. The majority of parents believe they should make schooling choices about two or three times. Depending on the structure of the education system, parents make choices about day care/ kindergarten, primary school, and middle school/high school. Some parents even consider this question only once and decide to send their kid to a college (which goes from kindergarten to Grade 12).

It is very risky to make schooling choices so infrequently. The original choice might not be doing justice to your kids and leaving them at the same school can be bad for your ‘investment’. Much like every marriage has a chance to review and evaluate when yearly anniversaries come along, schooling requires check up points every year. The smart people even review their choices every term.

Smart investors do not keep their investments when they discover they have made a mistake. For example, if an investor bought property in a certain location, and he found out that the area he invested in was not so great, he would evaluate the risks of selling and the potential of using his money to buy a different property, in a better location. More often than not, it is better to have money working for you than to keep throwing it in the bin.

TickboxesThe formula for choosing a school is a combination of factors that every parent needs to add their own value to. To come up with your formula for the best school, consider these factors: size, reputation, principal, location (distance from home, friends, transportation), uniform, teachers, atmosphere/school philosophy (e.g. traditional, progressive, etc.), relationship with parents, subjects taught, diversity of students, extracurricular opportunities, second language taught, sport available, creativity/innovation, does it cater to your child’s special needs, after school care.

If you want to find the best school formula for your child, think about what your philosophy is. Take stock of your living situation. This will help you find schools that are more suited to you than others. For the formula to work, the school needs to have a good combination of the factors we just talked about, and to meet your own personal values.

The best school formula

  1. Look at the list of school factors and write the ones that are important to you in a list.
  2. Importance – For each item, rate in order of importance from 1-10 (10 being most important). For example, for me, sport got a 3 and a second language was a 2. My kids are bilingual already and I find the way second languages are taught is a waste of time and energy. I would rather my children learn about culture instead of learning 20 words which they will forget two weeks later. Extracurricular activities are pretty important to me, so they got a 9. My kids get up in a flash every morning, excited for every day that has extracurricular activities in it. I know this is important for me.
  3. Rating – Now look at the schools themselves. Consider how each school matches up with the factors and your values. Give the school a rating of 1-10 in each area. It is important to compare between two or more schools so you can find out your own rating mechanism. Here is how it works: if you think a school is perfect in size, give it a 10. If you think the size is not to your liking, give it a lower rating.
  4. Child laughingNow multiply the importance with the rating. If you think the principal is 5 in importance, and the principal at the school you are looking at received a rating of 7 (it seems they are good but not excellent), you will have 35 points.
  5. The last thing is to add up all the multiplied points for each school. This will give you a number, which will tell you the general overall rating of each school.
  6. Compare all your options. You will find that one school will stand out to you more than the others. If you try to choose a school by following your emotions, it can be hard to consider all the things in the formula. Using this formula can make it easier to identify all the things that are important to you in a school. Sometimes, you do not have too many schools to choose from. Your only option is to choose the best of two bad options. Or you have two good options that seem exactly the same. If you try out this formula, you will find that some schools get better overall rating than others.

This technique is a great way of making decisions. Choosing a school for your child is a very important and needs to be evaluated every year. We need to do it when we choose a school for the first time, and again when we decide to keep sending our child to the same school. Remember, not choosing, is also a choice!

Join me next week, where I will go over the factors in the formula. If you get a chance to try the formula before next week, this will help you understand the factors and improve your formula, ready for the next decision you have to make.

Until then, happy and confident parenting,