It’s not as simple as deciding between a progressive school and a traditional one, or looking at the schools nearest you and picking the closest. Deciding on a big school for your child can be as difficult as figuring out what course to take in college. It can impact the rest of your child’s life.
Though she has been looking around, Shelli Tomacruz still hasn’t figured out where to send her daughter. Her concerns are common among parents who are deciding where to enroll their children.
“We know she will learn discipline and orderliness in a traditional Catholic school,” she says. “We think she may learn critical thinking in a progressive school. I don't know enough about progressive schools, but a few unfounded fears are that she will not learn self-discipline and that she will think school is all fun and games. That said, we are worried a traditional school may stifle her creativity and that she may be bored or tired and over worked. She may also not be allowed to reach her full potential, being one of many in a big class.”
The Big School List
Here’s what some parents are looking for in a big school. The list might help you figure out what is important to you as well.
1. Low student to teacher ratio
Though most of us grew up with 30 to 40 classmates, most parents see the value of having less children in a class. “I think small class sizes allow a teacher to spend more time teaching each student and demonstrating things, rather than just talking to a huge classroom,” shares Edison Yap.
An-Marie Villarin is also looking for small class sizes. “Maybe 1:10 ratio,” she says.
2. Good academic standards and track record
Chrissie Yulo knows that you can’t argue with a proven track record. She is looking for “a school that has good Catholic values, modern teaching methodologies, and good facilities.”
Gaita Sy says she initially was looking for this as well. “I wanted a big school that is Catholic, with a proven track record of providing quality education and good values formation.”
Irene Recio lists safety as first on her list. “I want to be sure I can leave my child there without worries. Or at least not having to worry about her physical safety,” she shares.
4. An age-appropriate curriculum that encourages critical thinking and creativity
Knowing facts and details aren’t enough anymore because everything can be found on the Internet. This is why Edison says he prefers the focus to be on teaching children how to question things. “I'd like a school that teaches a child to think creatively,” he says, “I want my child to learn that there are many solutions to a problem and the obvious way or answer may not be the best way. Not just asking How or What but spending more time understanding Why.”
Justine Tajonera agrees. “I would look for a school that encourages learning and curiosity, has programs that take the kids outside its walls, engages the kids through various learning methods (visual, auditory, tactile/kinesthetic), and has group work and projects that encourage kids to be creative.”
“The curriculum has to be good and age appropriate and can cater to the different learning styles of the children,” says Irene. “It should also not be so heavy that all the children do is study and do homework even on weekends.”
5. Accessibility and proximity
With today’s crazy traffic, proximity is a very big factor. “Being a multitasking mom, I need to be able to pick her up at a moment's notice especially when classes are cancelled or when she's not feeling well,” says Irene. “I don't want to have to worry about the traffic and the travel time getting to and from the school. It also takes a toll on the children when the school is too far.”
6. Qualified teachers
Being a teacher herself, An-Marie expects a few things from big school teachers. “Teachers should have at least three years experience, have graduated from one of the top tier schools, can speak English and Filipino well, and look and behave professionally,” she says. “The principal or directress should have at least 10 years experience, and a masters degree. The teachers and staff should also have open communication with the parents.”
There is no perfect school, but if you make a list of what is important to you and what will be a good fit for your child, you should be able to find what you’re looking for. But first things first: What are YOU looking for in a big school?
Olivia Yao has been writing ever since she can remember. She has written for health, teen, parenting, and children's magazines. Her latest endeavor is being a mom to her three-year-old daughter—her toughest assignment yet.