Monthly Archives: May 2015

Li’l Musings – Selecting Your Child’s School

(This article was submitted by Mr. George Mathew who is the CEO of a new-age preschool chain based at Trivandrum called “The Wonder Years Preschool”. The author is a researcher on child development and can be contacted at [email protected] For more details please visit http://www.thewonderyears.co.in)

It was the year 1998. I had finished my 12th grade and had attempted the entrance exams for my Engineering studies. As per my wish, I got the admission call from one of the top colleges in the state. Obviously I was elated and my parents, quite frankly, heaved a huge sigh of relief.
The D-Day for admissions arrived soon enough and I, along with about 300+ other prospectives, huddled into one of the halls. All of us were just happy to be there… to get a good enough score to help us get into the streams that we wanted.
All except one – a chap called James.
He was at the Principal’s office interviewing the Principal!! I kid you not… this was actually happening!! James wanted to know why he should join this college instead of some others of equal repute (mind you, this was in 1998 when there were all of 11 Engineering colleges in Kerala and ours was ranked No: 2). Eventually James joined our college and went on to win a lot of awards from MNCs (Microsoft, SUN, etc.) at ages 19 – 20.

Now, why am I telling you this story? To illustrate the importance of interviewing your child’s school, rather than it being the other way around.

I know for a fact that when parents come to enroll their children in my preschool they ask a lot of questions – on methodologies, curriculum, activities, care, etc. And I love that, by the way. I love talking to parents and allaying their fears about sending their children to a preschool. Because I believe in the concept (so much so that my 6 month old baby is already in my school for 2-3 hours daily).

But the same people, when it comes to choosing their child’s school, do not do the same due diligence. In most cases, the attitude is “let me get admission for my child in so-and-so school, we will think of everything else later.”
Granted, the number of seats in good schools is low when compared to the number of applicants. But that does not mean that as a parent sending your precious little one to a school, you are stripped of your rights.
No. You should interview the school, the teachers, the Principal and make sure that it is the right fit for your child. Do they really have the facilities that they claim in their brochure? Do they really have the results they are advertising? Or is it just the top 3-5 kids getting the result while the rest of the kids falter?
You need to ask these and many other tough questions before enrolling your child in the school. And if their answer is that it’s none of your business or you need to join the school since your child can’t get admission elsewhere, then that right there is a definite and compelling reason not to choose that school.

You also need to check with parents of other children who already study there. Get as much insider information as possible. Get the good news… get the bad news. What is the school known for? Why did that parent choose that school over the others? What are its plus points? What are its negative points? As with all 3rd party information, take this also with a pinch of salt. Remember, the views of the parent, good or bad, will be highly biased.
One more aspect you have to think about is the transportation facilities offered by the school, especially if you stay far away from it. This needs to be thought in conjunction with other aspects offered by the school. You see, if you child is going to spend upwards of 1 hr each way daily in the bus, you better make sure the school is worth it. Do not select the school based on “prestige value”. What you need to be worried about is – Is your child going to gain as much in school as he loses in 2+ hours in daily commute? If the answer is Yes, then go for it. Else, rethink on the school.

After all, your child is going to spend his/her formative years, a total of at least 12 crucial years, at the school. You better make sure it is the right place for them.