How to Find A Balanced School for Your Child?
Created by Nitin Updated on Jan 23, 2020
The first time I realized the true value of education for a child was when I saw this research on Brain Development. I was blown away by the fact that more than 90% of human brain development happens in the first 5 years. Another important fact from this research was that our cognitive development; broadly interpreted as the ability to reason and the ability to make decisions, is at its peak in the years 5 to 8. This was my moment of truth and since then I have always felt great to be working in such a high impact area. This blog is an attempt to help pro-parents to choose a good school for all-round development of their child.
Ask Yourself When Choosing Elementary School
Here’s a list of some key questions, which I have addressed to help you evaluate various schools:
- How do I look for a balanced school, with an equal focus on academics and extracurricular activities?
- Which education board is better?
- Which school has stress free education and focuses on conceptual understanding? I don’t want ‘rote learning’ for my child.
- How do I choose a school for my child’s all-round development?
The starting point is always discussing between you and your spouse on the core areas, which you want from your child’s school. Of all the factors, identify the ones most important for you.
How Do You Choose Right School for Your Child?
Here are 4 key factors you should discuss between you and evaluate various schools on –
1. Philosophy in Action
I remember a discussion with a fairly well-known school chairman. I asked him, what's that you have set as a goal with your school management, and He said quite eloquently, “I have given them the goal of getting 15% of their senior class students to get selected in competitive exams”. A school’s philosophy determines the rest of the factors. In case, you don’t find a considerable focus or mention of extracurricular along with academics, then you are looking at an academic-focused school. On the other hand, if you find a clear co-scholastic calendar in action in the school with good academics, it’s perhaps a more balanced option. You could gauge this in the very initial conversations with the school staff, Principal, or even the parents whose children are attending the school. You could also find signs of these in school’s participation in various competitions like spell bees, sports Olympiads, intra and inter-school cultural competitions and so on.
It’s a myth that all schools with the same board and syllabus have the same quality standards. On the other hand, two schools with the same syllabus and board can be poles apart in their quality of education, in case their philosophy is different.
2. Education Board
CBSE and ICSE are the two prominent Indian education boards and have both got their pros and cons. Between the two, CBSE has more presence across the country, whereas ICSE has done better on a project-based approach to learning. While CBSE has adopted the project-based approach off late, it still is an uphill task for both, the students and teachers. Read - Comparison between boards ICSE, CBSE & IB
If you are keen on getting your child a flavor of international studies, then you could evaluate between IB and IGCSE. IB is the more rigorously standardized body and has special emphasis on the quality of Infrastructure, teachers and teacher training through the year. IGCSE, also known as the Cambridge Board has a considerable presence in India now. It has its alignment with the international Univs just like the IB board. The early year program right from Primary year program (PYP) focuses on wonder, imagination, and concept at IB. In case you have an inclination towards Indian competitive exams and are not interested in international avenues for studies in the future, then Indian boards are more suitable than the International Boards. On the other hand, if you are looking at a global outlook for your child’s learning and development, then the International board(IB) or IGCSE it is.
It’s a myth that students who pass out from IB/IGCSE schools can’t appear for Indian competitive exams.
3. School Infrastructure & Staff quality
A balanced school would have the right infrastructure for teaching, learning as well as sports and extracurricular. Does the school have a sports infrastructure? Is it just limited to the grounds or the equipment or the condition and upkeep as well? Is there a dedicated, qualified trainer for sports in the school? Is there a periodic engagement of children around sports or is it just limited to a sports day? Similar questions in the area of dramatics, arts, safety and school transportation are important ones to find answers to. Speak to fellow parents from the school to find out how actively is their child participating in various such activities. The same is applicable to the quality of teachers and their training by the school. Does the school have a teacher-training calendar? Is this a regular part of the teacher’s development in the school? Check whether there is a minimum qualification for teachers, both in the paper as well in actual.
4. The first-hand Experience is Always Better than Hearsay
Speak to a few parents whose child is going to the school, preferably in an informal set up in their comfort zone. Find out their views about the school. What do they like and what are some of their concerns with the school? Each school has something amiss, but what is perhaps more important is to find whether the school has a clear feedback policy and if they act on it. This discussion could be defining and most helpful in identifying the balanced school for your child’s holistic development.
Remember to ask for the list of schools did they consider before choosing the one in question and you may find some useful insights to their decision making and how do they feel about it in hindsight.
Education is perhaps the most empowering aspect of a child’s development, but it’s never more important than the child herself. In ancient times, the Guru chose his/her disciples. Times have changed, and I feel, each child has the right to choose her school. Hope this helps you find your child’s dream school. It would be great to know your views and experience in the comments about this and on how you found the balanced school for your child.
| Jan 12, 2016
Thanks Nitin! It could not have been simplified better than this. This blog makes important points to be kept in mind easier to comprehend and decide accordingly . Since I am going through this process myself, I completely agree with u on this that's it is essential to seek a clear understanding of school's philosophy, and other necessary details.. I wish this confusion on number of seats could also be settled soon. Thanks again Nitin!
| Jan 12, 2016
Thank you Mr. Nitin Pandey. Was a bit confused with regards to board selection for my son, after going through your write up, got a clear picture and am now sure and happy, that I selected the right board considering his future. And a special thank you for clearing the myths.......
| Dec 08, 2016
Quite informative. I had always been told by people around that if my child does IB, he will not be able to give competitive exams in India. Good to know that's not true. Though I do believe that children studying CBSE will have an upper edge. I had one query though, what is the scene at Delhi University for IB students? Is there any scope?
| Dec 08, 2016
hey nidhi! more and more colleges including DU have had one challenge with timing of results for IB but offlate they have started opening up more and you would soon see that IB/IGCSE in India shall have a slightly differed (preponed) results timings for DP (XI, XII equivalent).
| Jan 25, 2017
I request the blogger to provide where she/he read the research that 90% of child's brain's development happens during infancy. I read this claim in many pre school's advertisements... In these days, infancy I didn't attend school at all... no formal education... parents didn't have time to attend me... does this mean my brain development didn't take place properly.. ? On the contrary I spent these days almost unattended.. I believe that has helped me grow independently.... The rest of the info is useful.
| Jan 26, 2017
hi jitendra! glad that you liked the blog. the brain development research results are now accessible in open space. in fact the research has become the corner stone for all further research in child development and education thereon. i feel that a child's curiosity will not get curbed by unavailability of these, on the contrary it can be enhanced by providing a more enriched surrounding with wonder and variety.
| Mar 14, 2017
My daughter who turned 3 recently is in playschool. I am planning to put her in a proper school this June. There is a new school in my area which has both IB and CBSE but right now has classes functioning till 5th grade. As I myself have been an ISCE passout I have an inclination towards the same. however, I am someone who has an eye for International education and would like my daughter to study abroad. There is an Olympiad school also in my vicinity which,parents say, focuses more on studies and cracking competitive exams rather than focusing on extra curricular activities. So I am basically bomabarded with information of a large variety of curriculum. I support your suggestion of striking a balance. Please advice.
| May 04, 2017
Oakridge International School offering the International Baccalaureate® (IB) programs aim to do more than other curricula by developing inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are motivated to succeed. IB strives to develop students who will build a better world through intercultural understanding and respect. The IB's programs are different from other curricula because they: Encourage students of all ages to think critically and challenge assumptions Develop independently of government and national systems, incorporating quality practice from research and our global community of schools Encourages students of all ages to consider both local and global contexts.
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