So you have made the visit to your child’s prospective school. Here are the questions to ask the head teacher to enable you judge whether that is the place that your child will call their academic home for the next 3 or so years.
1. What’s a normal school day like?
You want to find out what the children learn, how structured or unstructured their day is, meal times, nap times and any other extras that your child could benefit from. One school told me they start every day with singing and prayer. Another had a different “social citizen” agenda each day – on Monday the kids talked about the environment, on Tuesday they covered science, Wednesday was about the various foods we eat and so on.
This information will help you know if the school exposes your child to just more than learning the sounds and numbers, whether it offers regular breaks and provides meals on time and how varied your child’s day is.
Also find out if teachers follow a strict curriculum or if is there an emphasis on lesson plans tailored to the progress of each child. What happens if your child is gifted or a little behind?
2. What are the school rules?
You are looking for rules and regulations that are simple, clear and logical and that tie with those that you have set at home to avoid clashes and future troubles. We all remember the case of a school that did not allow dreadlocks on boys in primary school and the fiasco that was. I recently saw a parent complain on social media because the kid was asked to repeat a class for not meeting the half way mark. Know the rules early on and choose whether you can live by them.
On the same note, what happens when the rules are not followed? What are the penalties?
3. What does the school fees cover?
Does it include meals? Is school transport paid for aside? Are extras such as swimming, ballet lessons and school trips covered? I assumed my son’s school fees was all inclusive only to find out school trips and music classes are paid for as extras.
4. What’s the school menu or do kids bring their own lunch?
You want to find out if meals are balanced, creative and adequate, and this can also help you plan your own dinner menu at home to avoid duplication. I know a mother who never cooks rice at home because that’s what the kids eat every day at school. Also, can you bring food or snacks to school? This might seem silly but there will be instances when your child hasn’t had his breakfast and you wish you could pack it.
5. How do you handle medical emergencies?
What happens if a child is unwell? Do they give emergency help or do they have to call the parent? Can they give painkillers for fever? Can they take the child to hospital before the parent arrives? Do they bring the child home?
6. What’s the policy on school uniform?
Can a child attend school in home clothes? What’s the average cost of uniform and where do you get it? By the way, school uniform shopping can cost a big chunk especially if you are restricted to one shop that has fixed (and high) prices.
7. What’s the school’s discipline policy?
How does the school handle specific incidents like bullying, prejudice etc? What does the school consider indiscipline?
8. What’s the classroom size?
How many teachers are there in a class? Small classes provide more individualised attention than classes with a high student-teacher ratio.
9. What extra curricular activities are available and what’s their cost?
Schools offer different programmes like skating, ballet, piano, tae kwon-do, horse riding and crafts. There are however schools that offer basic activities like field sports and that’s it. If you think your child could be the next Jason Dunford, you might need to get a little creative.
10. What’s your role as a parent?
Apart from paying fees and getting your child ready for school every day, some schools may place certain demands on you like taking part in school activities or volunteering in certain areas. On the other hand you may want to be more active in your child’s academic pursuits but the school does not provide any arena for involvement.
11. Where do children who graduate from the kindergarten go?
I know a school whose curriculum did not allow my child to rejoin 8-4-4 syllabus without much hiccups because for the first three years, they focused on play and behavior rather than academic stuff. He would have been that kid in Class One who does not know to write ABCD. You may also find that the kindergarten has a special relationship with a primary school that takes their kids in Class One.
This article was originally published by Mums Village.