How to choose the right school for your child?

By Captain Unni Krishnan,

Today choosing a school is like choosing a car or a house, very subjective. There is no right or wrong choice. Before you decide how to choose a pre school it is important to understand this segment of education.

Pre-school system

Formal education starts at the age of 6. The segment of the school system that

Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1066433

addresses students less than 6 years of age is called the pre-school.  The formal process of physically going to school starts at an age around 2 years 9 months upwards.

Kindergarten years are an important time in a child’s total development. Early childhood educators, families and members of the community should work together to provide challenging and engaging learning experiences that will build a child’s confidence, encourage them to continue to see learning as both enjoyable and useful, and provide a strong foundation for their future intellectual, physical, and social development.

Teachers in Kindergarten program must plan whole-class instruction, small-group learning, independent learning, and activities in their environment.

There should also be a balance between teacher-initiated and child-initiated activities – times when the teacher guides the children’s learning and times when children are given opportunities to choose activities to demonstrate their knowledge.

In addition to focusing on developing IQ and EQ, learning activities must develop Social quotient in children. The Pre School education has 2 well-known systems of delivery the Kindergarten and the Montessori.  Kindergarten is a drop down from the conventional system, has a larger leaning towards reading and writing and hence is followed in most regular schools. Montessori is learning by doing method and followed in specialist pre schools.

As there is a re orientation in the education system, some regular schools run both KG and Montessori streams. 

Important guidelines

  • In the KG program while the child must learn to read and write but if the focus is only that, we will miss out a great opportunity to develop young minds.
  • Choose the school, which will suit the development of the child emotionally.
  • Do not worry about how many poems the child has learnt in KG but see how many friends the child has.
  • Gross motor skills; fine motor skills, language skills and number recognitions; all schools do this and all children will learn.
  • Look for a school where your child will enjoy and will like to go.
  • See if the child is learning to share what it has? Is the child learning to appreciate its friend’s achievements?

Let Air condition bus, hot food etc. not be the criteria to select a school.

  • Open play spaces, clean toilets, pleasant staff, are important.
  • It is not the qualification and the accent of the teacher that matters but the concern and care that the teacher has that will make the difference.
  • More than the latest topics, values and morals are important.
  • Above all, it is not enough to choose to a good school but is necessary to partner the school.
  • This does not mean you have to spend time in school monitoring the teachers, have trust in the teacher’s ability as a professional.
  • The child must not get the impression that the school and parents are on opposite sides. They will play one against the other.
  • You can get the best for your child if both are on the same side. Otherwise it will be a blame game.

Quality time spent by parents with a young child must not be limited to intellectual development but at very young ages,

  • A larger amount of time must be spent on social, moral and emotional development-
  • Parents must discuss socially relevant matters, appreciation of peers, other children, sharing etc. these will show affect on the young ones.
  • Today around the world and especially in our country, social awareness is very limited.
  • With nuclear families, children are growing up without concern for others.
  • Language used at home with house help, support staff etc. makes a large impact on children.
  • To expect children not to be exposed to foul language is impractical because it is all around but make them realize that it is unacceptable and must be avoided is essential.

Choosing a school is a very subjective decision and each individual can have different priorities. The best way is to create a list of expectations and prioritize each of them and then give scores each school you visit. Total up all of them before you make your choice.

Questions to ask while selecting a school

  1. Does it follow KG / Montessori or mix?
  2. Is it a part of a chain of schools or a stand alone?
  3. How far is the school from my house (Travel and time involved)?
  4. Do I need school and day Care at one place or can they at different places?
  5. Would I want my child to continue in same school from KG to Grade-12 or do I want a specialist KG school?
  6. How much of emphasis on personal care?
  7. What is the peer group like at school?
  8. How approachable is the management?
  9. How affordable is it?

Rate these on a scale of 1 to 5 or 10 and then make your decision. Anyways this is not a irreversible reaction you can always change the school if things are going out of hand but remember a school is a community and you will never achieve 100% satisfaction anything between 60 to 70 % is great.

Questions or Comments? Write to us!

Do you have any questions or comments related to choosing a school? What has worked for you? Please submit your comments below.

About the Author:

Captain Unni Krishnan is a Founder and Director of LearnHive; he is also the Founder and Managing Trustee of Primus Public School, Bangalore. Prior to that he was the Founder and Trustee of Indus International School. At Primus, he has been instrumental in implementation of new teaching pedagogies. He has seamlessly integrated the International and Indian syllabi to help prepare students for higher studies both in India and Overseas. Capt. is a ‘Sword of Honor’ from the prestigious Officers Training Academy of the Indian Army.

About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

 

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About Unni Krishnan

Captain Unni Krishnan is a Founder and Director of LearnHive; he is also the Founder and Managing Trustee of Primus Public School, Bangalore. Prior to that he was the Founder and Trustee of Indus International School. At Primus, he has been instrumental in implementation of new teaching pedagogies. He has seamlessly integrated the International and Indian syllabi to help prepare students for higher studies both in India and Overseas. Capt. is a 'Sword of Honor' from the prestigious Officers Training Academy of the Indian Army. Learnhive (http://www.learnhive.net) is an online learning community of students (K through 12), parents, tutors and educational content creators. Our goal is to enrich the curriculum based learning experience of the students and to make learning more fun and effective.

32 comments on “How to choose the right school for your child?

  1. Kanchan S on said:

    Hi, Loved the article. It’s informative and very helpful. I would like to know what are the best IGCSE schools in Bangalore. I am considering Inventure Academy for my kid.

  2. Pranav Pandya on said:

    Nowadays it is a very herculean task to select the best school for your children; It will not allow them to grow knowledge wise but also other soft skills and give them exposure to extra curriculum activities.
    Your post covers all the aspects that every parent are looking for the schools must have to get admission for their children.

  3. Pinakin Patel on said:

    Dear sir, i m from Gujarat,Surat and we live in gujarati culture in surat. my Daughter is 2 yr 10 month, now i just want to know which board i have to chose for my daughter Gujarat Board or CBSE Board. i have my own business , So not transferbal job.
    kindly Guide me, wait for reply

  4. Roopa Bhandiwad on said:

    Dear sir

    I was a subscriber of Learnhive during 2012-13 . you are develping good products for young learners.
    It is intersting that you have given a elaborate infromation about IGCSE,ICSE,CBSE..
    In concern of my child in grade 7.I am feeling insecure about his present school.(chrysalis high yelhanka (CBSE) bagalore)
    I wiil be useful if you can give inputs to the following
    Which CBSE school to choose in Bangalore North
    how to choose a school for an older child (class 7)
    Is it right to finalize a school based on result history
    and many more
    It will useful if you can suggest on this

    thanks
    roopa

    • Unni Krishnan on said:

      Dear Roopa,
      Considering the fact that your child is soon going to enter senior school, it would be a wise move to choose a school that produces good results.
      Rgds

  5. Ramalingam on said:

    shall we change my son from IGCSE school to CBSE school.Will it affect his studies.

  6. Ramalingam on said:

    My son is studying IG-II year in sholai school at kodaikanal ,it is an IGCSE syllabus ,cambridge university. can we change him from that school to other schools with other syllabus.
    Or we can change him from IGCSE syllabus school to other IGCSE schools.

  7. Meghna Joshi on said:

    Dear Sir,

    I came across your blog at the right time – I am pretty confused about the education stream that my children are currently in.

    Basically from Mumbai, we have been moving states Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and back to Mumbai. My daughter now in 7th Grade and son in 4th Grade had been studying in CBSE throughout before this. We were extremely happy with the CBSE curriculum but because of lack of time and schools in the vicinity, we had to adopt IGCSE in a good school. However, I am now having second thoughts as IGCSE does not offer languages (French) especially grade VIII onwards whereas even SSC Board here offers scoring subjects like Sanskrit. We have no plans as yet of moving out of India.

    Changing schools in a span of One year will be painful particularly for my 13 year old daughter but if that will affect the future career choices, will that be a better option?

    Do advise.
    Regards,
    Meghna

    • Unni Krishnan on said:

      Dear Meghna,

      IGCSE does offer choice of French as a second language and I do not know the reason why the school your children are attending does not offer French. You can surely pursue French in Grade 8 to 10. Of course an additional option in IGCSE is that Second language is not compulsory to qualify for Grade-11. If you pass IGCSE exam in English and 4 other subjects, you can join Grade-11 in any syllabus.
      Warm Regards
      Capt Unni

  8. Banumathiseetharaman on said:

    Dear sir,

    You are doing such a wonderful job. Pl keep up the good work to guide the upcoming future children
    Pl enlighten us with your valuable reply we are in dilemma
    Our son is doing grade-4 in cbse at coimbatore. We have plan to shift to chennai.
    We wouldlike to put him icse or igcse for his better studies develop his skills along with study
    But we have no idea to move abroad. Pl guide us which can we choose ICSE or IGCSE

    We are awaiting for your reply

    • Unni Krishnan on said:

      Dear Bhanu,

      If you are looking at a good learning experience, IGCSE is the choice and if not , I suggest you continue with CBSE since all entrance exams are conducted based on this syllabus.
      warm Regards
      Capt Unni

  9. Banumathiseetharaman on said:

    Dear sir,

    I read few of your valuable suggestions.

    Pl guide me also by your useful reply. We both are in dilemma.
    I have no person to get this information. I hope your reply will lead my son further study
    My son doing grade-4 in cbse at psbb millennium school. I want to admit him in igcse board in hindustan international school for his better prospect. As the fee structure is double or more than that which we pay now in cbse. So we wanted to know will it be really worth enough to spend.
    And want to know which they provide extra curricular also will be good enough. Because, now we send him privately for extra curricular and i had plan to send him to british council to improve his communication & pronounciation skills. My conclusion is if i get all in one station my financial burden will not get hike

    Thanks for your patient to read such a big mail
    Im rely on your reply

    Thanks & regards
    Banuseetha

  10. harsh b. tav on said:

    My son Will complete nursery
    & daughter will complete play group
    I want where is a place that both will get together education in district of THANE , KALYAN city.
    Sir kindly suggest which is best in results & minimum cost

    Regards
    Harsh
    9167496566

  11. harsh b. tav on said:

    Sir, I want to know about which school, as per admission process, can I change board of child in education from school to next school
    1. Smart ways of education for child
    2.all rounders school list in THANE district, nearby KALYAN city
    3. Two child education elder is son younger is daughter.any idea for combined education
    4. For son which is best in development &cost
    5. For daughter which is best in development & cost.

    Kindly suggest
    Regards
    Harsh

  12. Shyamala on said:

    Hi Sir,
    My daughter is 22months old. I’m planning to put her in a Montessori for the next 4 years and then join her in I grade in a regular school. But I’ve been told by many parents that getting the child admitted in I grade is very tough and the child will face difficulties in adjusting to structure. This has gotten me worried as to how to proceed. Please guide me.

    Regards,
    Shyamala

    • Unni Krishnan on said:

      Dear Shyamala,
      In most schools , KG/ Montessori is an integral part and hence the vacancies available in Grade-1 become limited and this causes some limitations in admission. Adjustment is not a big problem. To be on the safe side, if you can identify a good school in your neighbourhood that has a good Pre school program, then you can avoid the tension of looking for admission in Grade-1.

  13. Rajagopal on said:

    Dear Sir
    I have gone thru your blogs and was impressed with the content. I am writing this note to seek your advice. I have just got transferred to Mumbai and I am looking for admission for daughter for class V & son for S.KG. I have yet not finalized my residential place as I wanted to get the admission process completed and chose a place nearby that. I need advice on the following …

    a) Good school in Nerul /kharghar /Thane
    b) Preferable board ICSE
    c) Both kids needs to be in same school
    d) Looking for school which focuses on overall development..academic/sports/life skills etc
    e) Preferably – Non Marathi third language option
    f)Lastly , who are ope to entertain transferable cases .

    Regards & thanks looking forward for your advice ….
    Raj

    • Unni Krishnan on said:

      Dear Raj,
      Sorry I am unable to suggest schools as I am not aware of the situation in Mumbai. Please seek info from some one in that area. Wishing you all the best.
      Rgds

  14. Devika on said:

    Sir,
    My daughter is in a reputed ICSE girls school in Bangalore and would like to move from Hindi to French as 2nd language from class 6 onwards (from 2014 June). She will have to start a new language from scratch, but a lot of parents tell me that moving to French from class 5 or 6 is not difficult and the syllabus can be managed very well in the class 10 exams. Apparently, it is easier than Hindi in class 10. Please let me know your opinion.

    Thanks.

  15. m.satish kumar on said:

    dear sir,
    my son dob is 17/11/2011. he already finished his nursery in hyd .but now the school authorities refuse to give admission into lkg because there few problems in future when he going to attempt higher examination .is there any alternate for my son to continue in his studies because he is very intelligent in grasping the things as well he stood first in his class.
    could you please give any permanent solution .

    • Hello!

      I am helping my cousin’s parents find a good school for her. We live in a Delhi. I was not aware that pre-school education has such a deep impact on a child’s future admission that which syllabus they will later study is also impacted! Don’t all pre-schools follow a common method of teaching?

      If that is so, my cousin’s parents have not yet decided whether their child should study in India all her life or they wish to send her abroad in the future. In either case, how do we identify a pre-school based on our preference of syllabus?

      Thank you!

  16. Madhu Pajeer on said:

    Dear Captain,

    I was looking for guidance about moving my son to India and bumped into your blog. Quit an interesting and elaborative answers show that you have very focused knowledge. Thank you for your efforts.

    My son moved to UAE in 2009 and currently perusing 7th Standard in ICSE curriculum. We wanted to move back to India when he completes 8th Standard (for 9th standard) and join him in good schools either in Chennai or Hyderabad based on where I will find my next job.

    Now my worry part is, if I move my kid in 9th Standard, will he be still classified as an NRI? Will his admission into higher colleges be from the coveted NRI quota?

    Currently my kids’ education is fully covered by my employer(thanks to UAE Gov. policies), while I move to India I end up paying his schooling which I think would be a burden (if it is very high)

    So what are the guidelines to call one as an NRI student?

    How many years of continuous education should be in India to escape the tag of NRI in the higher colleges (+2 end higher degrees) ?

    Please help us to sort this myth about NRI quota in schools and colleges, most of my Desi friends are giving me several versions and I am really confused whether to move him this year or next year.

    Thank you for Your time and guidance

    Best Regards

    Madhu Pajeer

    • Unni Krishnan on said:

      Dear Madhu,
      Students who pass Grade-12 in any Indian Syllabus in a school in India are not considered under the NRI quota. Some states have a different regulation as well, and you will need to check the respective state admission Criteria. In Karnataka, to apply for admission under CET quota, it is mandatory to have studied in Karnataka for seven years. For students who pass Grade-12 in Karnataka but have not completed seven years study have to apply under COMEDK quota. The Fee for students under COMEDK is almost 3 times of CET (Currently the fee for CET is approx Rs 45000 and for COMEDK is approx 1,20,000/- per annum). You will also need to be aware that competition under CET is much higher than in COMEDK.
      Rgds

  17. Thank you for Useful post.These days’ parents are very selective in choosing the right school for their children in terms of quality education, co-curricular activities, facilities, etc. They want their children to attend a school that exposes them to various extra-curricular activities from an early age, besides the basic education. My Son have been studying in Inventure Academy International School in Bangalore for the last two years. They simply love to go to school and when asked about it, their description of school is enough to tell me that it’s because schooling has been made fun for them.

  18. Mohamed Yusuf on said:

    Dear Sir, This is a great site, where you have clarified so many doubts of people. I am sure, you will be able to give me some right direction. Me and my family are based in Dubai, I am interested in putting my son in British Curriculum (O level at FS-1). I am worried if we go back to India, the scope of eductaion would be limited and my son would not be able to able to cope up to the eductaion level as, CBSE and O level are 2 different types of educating. Looking forward for your advice.

  19. Peel Montessori on said:

    This is a great post – thanks for simplifying all the pros and cons without watering it down or taking a bias. Lists like this are a great way to start research into schooling!

  20. Lakshmi Menon on said:

    One very worrying aspect is that in the formative years I see in the same academic year many teachers come and go. Personally I felt this wont help the kid cos he begins to feel comfortable with his/her teacher and if they keep changing the teachers then the child gets confused !
    I think schools should mandatorily bring experienced teachers for the formative years – Kindergarden as the child gets his /her foundation here and would need experienced and mature handling ! Freshers who join school as teachers may not be in a position to handle little kids who have just stepped out of the comfort of thier homes into the world outside

    • Capt Unni on said:

      I fully agree that change of teachers is a matter of concern for children and parents and I am sure is equally worrying for the school. Unfortunately in the current social environment, it becomes difficult to ensure these changes do not occur. There are various factors resulting in translocation that is one of the main reasons for change. The probable solution for schools is to have a process and set system of practices in place under which the method and content of imparting education does not change. Another practice which can help in reducing adjustment issues when a teacher leaves, is to have 2 teachers in the teaching process with a group of children and hope both of them do not leave at the same time.
      On your point on freshers, more than experience it is the attitude and compassion towards children that is an important factor. With a well-defined system of delivery of curriculum, dependence on an individual’s expertise is reduced. Personally, I have seen a number of fresh teachers who come in with great enthusiasm and willingness to try newer methods that is so critical in this age of changing education practices.

  21. Srinivasan on said:

    Liked the post. You should get this published in some newspaper to reach mass population

    • Nanditta kapoor on said:

      This article will be helpful to all parents. Straight from the heart of one of the most passionate and dedicated educators I have known.

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