Finding a kindergarten for most parents is a stressful affair. Why? Because we have expectation and needs we want met and most times getting a school that has the perfect mix and match can be impossible. Often parents will find that they have to choose what matters most to them, then compromise on lesser matters to choose a school that offers the closest to their ideal.
People consider different things while choosing a school. You may not believe it but there is a school I checked off my list because it didn’t feel right. Everything looked alright on paper, the budget was ok, it was a walking distance form our home, but I couldn’t picture my son in a class there. I went for a repeat visit and again it didn’t feel like home. My husband just shook his head when I told him that the school felt off.
In another school I showed up at the gate and it’s the kids who were playing outside who opened for me. No watchman was in sight. I almost turned back.
Kindergarten is your child’s first introduction to formal learning so you want it to leave a positive impact on your child and not undo all the foundations you have so carefully laid.
Consider these factors:
- Educational philosophy. The school should share your philosophy on education and raising children. It needs to reflect your values and embody the future you want for your child. May be you want a school that instills confidence, or independence, or one that gets your daughter to speak with a twang. May be you want one that exposes you child to kids from different backgrounds. At the end of the day, these are the things that will help you judge whether the school has been successful with your child or not.
- This encompasses the distance to the school from home and accessibility. You may want to limit the number of external factors during the commute for your child’s safety and the amount of time spent on the road. You also want to ensure a decent pick up and drop off time. A school that is located a walking distance to the school is great. But what if the perfect school is two highways? This is where you weigh whether the benefits outweigh the risks of a long commute, the costs, inconvenience and the fatigue involved for you and your child. The distance to the school will also influence how early the child is picked up and dropped off. We had found a great school that involved a 90-minute direct ride on the school bus and a pick-up time of 6:20am. Add the time spent dropping other kids and our son would have been on the road an average of five hours every day. He’d also have had to wake up at 5:30am. I didn’t care if they were just about to turn him to the next Einstein. No, thanks. Traffic Jams happen; accidents happen; el nino happens. You need to be able to get to your child easily. That is not possible in the case of a school that is 15km offgrid.
- Education, particularly in Nairobi, has become expensive. Sometimes I look at fee structures of some schools for a term and I think, “It didn’t cost me that much to go through primary school, secondary school, university and graduate school.” You will need to find a school that fits your budget and for Pete’s sake stop competing with the Joneses. So they took their kid to the top school? Run your race. I believe that with a little looking, you can find a little gem that that fits within your budget and offers what you need for your child.
- Your child’s needs. Not every school will work out for your child’s specific needs. May be your child is gifted, or slow in learning than the rest. Bear these in mind while shopping for a kindergarten. This way you will know what to look for in teachers or the environment.
- Other extras offered. Apart from formal school learning, you will want to consider other special offerings like sports, swimming, music and musical instruments.