Because I’m in the field of education, and with so many different choices, I often get asked by acquaintances how to choose a school and what to look for. So I’m going to give you an “insider’s view” on how to be able to detect a good school.

First of all, ask acquaintances, but those who you feel share your vision.

Your friends might have children in a certain school, but you need to ask them what they like and what they don’t like … remember, people have different viewpoints , so what they might like , you might not and vice versa, so listen to their reasoning. Also, ask about their involvement .Are they heard or not? In some schools, parents’ concerns, justified or not, are not heard….

 

When researching a certain school, read reviews, talk to parents who are already enrolled, and go to that school and take a tour. All schools will get both good and bad reviews, but you need to need to read between the lines and see what makes sense and not what might be written by someone who is biased for personal reasons whether for or against.

 

Look for a school that caters for the student’s whole welfare, whether emotionally, physically, psychologically, behaviorally, and at the same time caters to the different academic needs ……Does the school treat all children equally or individually i.e. will the school cater to children, whether they are academically –challenged, or even gifted or talented?

 

Schools are not just about academics. Students may graduate with the highest scores from a school, but not be aware of anything else. Look at the activities offered. Are they considered as important as academics or there just for fun?

 

Physical appearance in a school is always important but don’t just look for cleanliness and how the school is maintained (although both are very important) but also howactively” the walls are used.

Is there evidence of student work on the walls, not just preprinted posters? You don’t want just décor. You want to see things that are clearly in use… If you see a chart they clearly put up at the beginning of the year and it’s now December, and nothing has been tracked on that chart, then it isn’t being used. That indicates it wasn’t a priority — it was just for show.

When looking in classrooms, in addition to class size, see how involved, active, and inspirational the teachers are. Do they interact well with the students? Do kids look happy and engaged? What are the room layouts? Are the layouts rigid and boring?

Ask about what professional development opportunities teachers have. Are they frequent and a priority? A good school should spend both time and money on its staff!

 

Finally, one of the most important things you need to know about a school, is their philosophy on discipline. You need to know that your children are going to be treated with respect and not oppressed. Are they heard?  Some schools are too strict with their rules and the teachers might be too rigid and harsh that some students can be bullied and not heard and it can lead to very bad consequences. So you need to find a school where everyone cares about the children’s overall wellbeing!!!

 

I can go on and on…These are just a few of so many different aspects for looking for a good school but ultimately, you need to ask yourself…. “Where will my child be happiest, safest and grow for the next few years?”….. Good luck in your search!

Dr. Reham El-Demerdash

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