Sending your child off to school is a milestone every parent thinks about long in advance of their first day. Whether you're putting them on a school bus, dropping them off or walking them to the door, it's an extraordinary time.
However, the anxiety that comes with choosing the right primary school for your child can make that wonderful time seem a little less enjoyable. Will the school you choose to be the right fit for their educational needs? Will the staff help them succeed in all that they do? Will they make friends and enjoy their school experience?
There's no way to predict how primary school will go for your child, but there are certainly ways to grant them the best possible chances of really loving it. If you are an expatriate family, choosing a private, international school that is compatible with your child's and family's needs is a great start. Here's what you need to know about choosing the right one for your child and making their first years of school the very best that they can be!
1. What type of education do you prefer for your child?
One of the most critical factors in determining whether a school will work for your family and child is what type of education they offer. Some expatriate families prefer local schools, specifically local public schools. They feel that this allows their children to truly experience the local culture and be thoroughly immersed in the local language.
However, those more focused on the quality of education often choose private schools. Private, international schools are an increasingly popular choice for expatriate families since these schools offer a consistent educational experience across numerous international locations. It makes planning for potential future moves easier, all while maintaining a high standard of private education.
Another consideration is whether you want your child to have religious studies alongside their secular fundamentals. If so, you will likely need to choose a local, private academy. If that is not an option for you, you may choose to enroll your child into additional education through your church or other local religious organization.
2. Is the choice in curriculum up to you?
When choosing a school for your child's primary school years, you may also be interested in selecting their curriculum. Many modern parents are interested in the highly-popular Montessori curriculum for their children so they may elect to send their children to a school that offers this approach.
However, not all schools provide numerous curricula, and even fewer allow parents and families to choose their child's educational path. Speak with the administrators at the schools you are considering to learn more about what options your child may have!
3. How feasible are the logistics?
For many families, numerous practical factors go into the decision of which school to send their child to. Some of these include: How far from your residence is the school you have in mind? How will your child get to and from school? If you and/or your spouse work, is after-school childcare or tutoring available? What school does your child's preschool or daycare program recommend or partner with?
Each of these can have an impact on how feasible sending your child to your preferred school will be. If you can't afford to continue working, can't get your child to and from school or don't have any outside or in-school support for your child at that school, it only may not be the right choice for your family.
4. Are there any social concerns?
Even though your child is very young, their social connections are something that you need to consider when enrolling them in a school. After all, the primary school years are when the first lasting friendships may be forged, and the most important social skills are learned and practiced.
Some things to consider when choosing a school that works for your child's social needs include: Do your other children go to the same school or district? Does your child have friends attending the same school? What kind of clubs and other socialization opportunities does the school offer?
All of these are important in determining whether the school will be a good fit for meeting your child's social skill-building needs.
5. What do you need to consider about the school itself?
Once you've examined all of these factors about what type of school your family wants and how well local schools fit those needs, it's time to examine those schools thoroughly. Consider taking a tour and meeting some of the staff yourself.
If possible, also consider touring while classes are in session so that you can get a solid idea of what an average school day looks like. It will give you the best idea of what student-teacher interactions look like and how comfortable your child and family will be with that school.