One mama shares her tips for choosing the right school for your child. She discusses different questions to ask and issues to consider as you make the decision.
I’m writing about a topic that has been brewing in my mind for some time. This is for parents in the Netherlands to think about when choosing the school for their children. From an perspective of an educator and a parent, I would like to share my sentiments about choosing the right school for your child. I know this is something that a lot of us really look into because of the many different philosophies and types of schools available. I feel it is important to ask ourselves the following questions:
Does the school promote the same values as you do?
By values, I mean what do they hold as important for the children to learn? To do? To experience? Montessori, Waldorf and Steiner schools were born out of the need to present other experiences for children that were not being offered in the traditional school setting. Openbareschools (OBS) have different approaches and programs for children with no emphasis on religion. Schools with religious orientations are also available.
With a Changing Society (economics and skills), does the school promote a shift in learning that will cater to what students of the 21st century need to know?
I highly value what another friend shared about the longitudinal studies done on Dutch students (past 30 years). It showed most of the accomplished students come from OBS. It might be that the longitudinal studies of our children will either show similarities with those done from 30 years ago or show a complete opposite. Either way, we won’t be the ones affected but our children, so the choices that we make for them now are important.
Does the school give you the feeling that your child will be nurtured there?
Learning about the school's philosophy and practices are important, but physically being in the school and interacting with the people should be the deciding factor. Let’s face it. We, as parents, live busy lives and try to provide the best possible connection with our children. But this does not stop in our homes. It extends to the school and to the community. The interactions that your child will form with his/her peers, teachers and other parents help them form the attachment and connection that they need. Studies on positive attachment have given us a lot to think about when it comes to the type of interaction that we want for our children (and not just as babies). How do the teachers respond to children? Do they show genuine respect for what the child is saying? How do they respond to bullying (this is, after all, one of the hard-pressed problems facing children nowadays)?
Is your school of choice a place where you would feel happy to be in it if you were a child?
I know the last question might raise some eyebrows, but let’s face it, our children have the luxury of choice compared to what we had (in my case, what we had in the Philippines). The choices might be daunting, but it is good to know that, at the end of all the decision-making, we have the best intentions for our sons/daughters in mind. We want them to be nurtured and taught in a safe, responsive, and loving environment. Balancing what they will learn academically with how they will grow emotionally, physically, and socially is important. What they will know academically and how they can use that in the future is a good investment, but the best investment is how they are treated and what they are doing in the present.
Lana Kristine Flores-Jelenjev is an early years curriculum innovator, engaged parent and a passionate educator. She writes about her activities with her children at 365daysofmotherhood and shares her insights on engaging activities for teachers, parents and children at VisiblyEngaged.