The right school for your child

Before you start visiting schools, consider the following questions: 

How much can you afford to spend on schooling per month? This includes school fees, extra mural activities, transport, outings, stationery and any other hidden costs that might occur.
 
What do you and your child need from the school? These could be things like aftercare, transport, emotional or educational support services.
 
Which values are important to you that need to be embedded in the school’s ethos and functioning? These could include respect, fairness, balance, a faith based environment or diversity.
 
Does your child have a specific activity, talent or disability that the school or school building should be able to accommodate? 
 
Are there any public schools that you are considering visiting and if so, do you fall in their catchment area?
 
Are there any independent schools that you are considering visiting and if so, do they have any admission tests, deposits or interviews that you have to plan for?
 
How far are the school from your home and what impact will this have on your family and travelling expenses?
Food for thought
Your child should preferably turn six years old in their Grade R year and seven in their Grade 1 year. Grade R is not compulsory.
 
Find out how long teachers have been at the school. A low turn-over rate usually indicates teachers who are happy in their work place.
 
If the schools provide lunch, ask for the menu to assess how healthy it really is.
 
Phone the public schools you consider to find out if you fall within their catchment area.  A catchment area is the geographic area from which learners are eligible to attend a local school. If you don’t fall in this area, your child might have to go onto a waiting list.
 
Don’t merely judge a school on their label. There are some excellent public schools that could be a perfect fit for your child.
 
When you review a school’s matric results, analyse the pass rate, ask questions like, how many students passed with university/college exemption, and how many distinctions did they get in subjects such as mathematics and physical sciences? To read about how to critically compare public school results versus independent school results, follow the link: http://mg.co.za/article/2011-01-14-private-good-public-not-so-bad
 
Did you know that in South Africa we have General Education and Training (Grade R-9 as well as Adult Basic Education and Training), Further Education and Training (Grade 10-12, diplomas and certificates obtained from technical colleges, community colleges and private colleges) and Higher Education and Training (Tertiary studies). To read more about each band, their responsibilities and some of their action plans, follow the link: http://www.southafrica.info/about/education/education.htm#.VEeKiu9xmpp
After you considered these questions and decided which schools you would like to visit, make an appointment with them on a regular school day. Open days are very informative, but it is usually best to visit a school when they are functioning normally and to visit different classes and age groups. This will give you the opportunity to get a real feel for the school environment and interaction. It might even be helpful to attend a sport day or event and to take your child with you.Click here to read about the creche vs nanny care.
No school will be perfect, so keep the bigger picture in mind and rather look for a good fit for your child than for perfection in the school.

You might want to read about going to the library versus digital reading.