Asking the right questions while choosing a school
My son is going through the process of applying to senior schools and as most parents I am anxious to choose the right one. The academic results are important for me and they are easy to measure as all schools can show statistics on where students are going after their school and with what grades. But how to capture less tangible things that make the school the right place for my child? What are the right questions to ask when visiting schools, talking to head masters and teachers as well as current students and their parents?
I found that using the wheel of life (created by Paul Meyer ) gives a good structure to focus on what matters in bringing up a balanced and happy individual:
Looking at each of these categories helps to formulated the right questions while selecting the school:
1) Spirituality/Values/Attitude: As a parent I want my children to grow into confident, positive, kind and caring people. What values does the school believe in and how they are implemented on a daily basis? Do children get involved in helping others who are less privileged through charity work or community projects? How is bulling dealt with? Is helping school-mates rewarded or it is all about competition? How is self-confidence of each student nourished?
2) Family values: Trust and relations between children and parents are developed at home but as children grow older and school takes more and more time. How does the school encourage the whole family involvement in the child’s life? Are there family events?
3) Health & Fitness: Are all children have a chance to participate in games and choose from a variety of sports? Does the school canteen encourage healthy eating? Are children educated and encouraged to make healthy life-style choices?
4) Personal growth & development: Does the school encourage curiosity and growth mindset in every child? Is the effort praised as much as the outcome? Is there a wide range of after-school activities/clubs available to choose from? How is each child encouraged to try out different activities? (see my previous post on growth mindset here).
5) Relationship (friends): How does the school support building interpersonal skills and help to make friends? How are new children mixing with older students in the school?
6) Fun/Recreation: What are the school trips? Are all school projects only academic or there are also some just for fun activities?
7) Career: As AI and technology change the job market, is the school able to introduce children to the new industries? Are inspiring professionals coming to the school with talks? How are critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration skills developed? Does the school have open ended projects that allow to think outside the box and work with others? (see my last blog on creative thinking in maths here).
8) Finances: As the employer security and government pensions are things of the past, being financial literate is a crucial skill. More and more schools become aware of supporting entrepreneurship and finical skills through special workshops. (I spoke about importance of the financial skill and how to teach on this blog here).
Let me know how you are looking at the schools for your children and please comment below.