*this is a sponsored post.
So, nearly halfway through popping my cherry in the school system (as a parent), and it’s been a real eye opener. I realised the other day that this time last year I was madly in the throes of comparing schools, going to interviews, praying to whoever would listen that Miss DP would respond to the questions asked with some form of a response that remotely matched the idea being asked of her. She has a knack of responding to questions with random facts that have nothing to do with anything. See previous post here explaining said phenomena. #kidlife
You might be in the same position this year. Or choosing the right school could be upon you before you know it. Not to alarm you, but somehow you blink your eyes and your kid is five and heading to school and talking about boyfriends and girlfriends and you just want to bury your head in the sand. Or into a large glass of vino. How does it happen so fast? Is it the vast amounts of vino consumed to cope in those early years? Or is it that kids have this way of setting time to warp speed? I’m thinking a little of column A, a little of column B.
Anyways, if you’re wondering how the heck to select the school that you feel is going to be the right fit for your cherub, here’s a couple of ideas:
The School Vibe
I know, sounds a bit wanky right? But each school has a vibe. And a reputation to go with that vibe. You know your child better than anyone else, and it’s all about fitting your child to that school. How does the school feel when you walk in? Inviting? Busy? Is it a big school, or a smaller one? That’s something to consider against your child’s personality. They may thrive better in a smaller environment. How does your child respond when you go to the school interview? Does the staff seem cohesive and happy? This is a biggie. Happy staff= happy kids. Do the students seem friendly as you wander around? It has to feel right for you, and for your child. You’re both going to be spending a lot of time in that place!
Health and Safety
How’s it looking to you? The amenities up to scratch? Safety and wellbeing are of course a no brainer, but some schools might focus on it a bit more than others. Check out playgrounds and their policies on health and safety. Are the classrooms and school grounds clean and tidy? Particularly in this day and age when allergies are so huge, it’s important to make sure that there are clear plans in place and that things are tidy and clean. Check to see if the school utilises a commercial cleaner, like AMC Cleaning (http://www.amcclean.com.au/ their website has some good info on just what goes on in maintaining classrooms ), and how they maintain their procedures. Because, if your cherubs are anything like mine, chewing on manky shit is their forte, and if floors aren’t clean, they’ll find grubby crap on it and make a beeline for their mouths like a heat-seeking germ missile. I gave up after they started sharing food with our dog.
What does the school stand for? Do they have a focus on social and emotional wellbeing? Now, I might be a bit bias here, but really, social emotional wellbeing is so integral to successful learning. Research has shown time and time again that you can have all the academics in the world, but if you don’t have social emotional wellbeing intact, then the academics go out the window. Check at your interview- what do they do for social emotional learning? Do they run programs in the school? What does the school consider to be an important focus for them? Are they an academic super house? Do they have a large arts culture? You need to look at what is going to work best for you and your cherub, and see where the best fit is.
All schools now have to operate from the National Curriculum, or ACARA- we love a good acronym, right? But there’s different ways to get that curriculum across. Look at the way your child learns- and consider what is going to work out best for you. Some kids are more visual learners, some more verbal. Some require a little more repetition, some can handle a faster pace. While every school needs to differentiate, some might be a better fit for your child than others. Ask around- talk to other parents from different school communities, to see how the curriculum is run there. Is there access to technology? Is there a learning support team if your child struggles? And social emotional learning is now part of the curriculum- it’s known as a general capability.
What is on offer for the children at that particular school? Do they run other activities, like music, dance, drama? Is that even important to you? Extra-curriculars are a big part of a lot of schools nowadays. Some parents think it’s the best, others don’t want any extra pressure on their kids. It’s really about whatever is going to work best for you and your child.
And a final word. I really truly believe that a child will thrive anywhere provided they have the right supports and care around them. Sometimes even the ‘worst’ schools can actually turn out to be the best. However, there is no harm in doing a bit of hunting around and giving our kids a leg up where we can. It’s got to be the right fit for you, and for your child. For us, we had a school down the road that would have been super convenient, but it just didn’t feel right for Miss DP. So we do travel a little further at the moment, but it’s been worth it. It will all work out, and your cherub will be refusing to tuck their school shirt in before you can reach for the glass of vino. Good luck!
How were your school years? Did you feel you were in the right place for you?