Here are the top aspects, dear parent – to choose/apply to the “right school” for your child.
But first some background/context: unlike most big cities – Gurugram fortunately has large number & good spectrum of schools – and so its relatively “much easier” to get admission in a good school of your choice here – not just in nursery or Kindergarten but later years as well. Switching /joining during later primary/middle grades/years is not difficult here! We need to thank the Gurugram city planners for this – who have allowed so many schools to spring up – providing much easier access to high quality school education.
As a city of migrants with a lot of people coming in/getting transferred/leaving for other cities – there’s a lot of churn – so some seats often becoming available in most schools and hence ease of joining/switching another school, later. So frankly there’s nothing to worry if your child did not get accepted in your dream school – maybe that school will accept 1-3 years later/ when your child is older & they have a seat available then.
But since good schooling is important – on how should one evaluate the best school for your child.
Here are 10 main aspects to consider:
- Distance of school from home – a decent neighbourhood school is ideal – not more than 5 KMs or so; ideally less. So daily to and fro travel is minimised, and saved time is used for studies or play/activities, rather than in daily long & draining travel. Which is why internationally in Europe and often in north America, the concept of compact “neighbourhood schools” is widely prevalent.
- Quality of teachers – the Guru, makes all the difference. so well educated, experienced, trained & committed teachers, who “like teaching” and are innately fond of making a difference to children is perhaps one of the “most” important. Yes, infrastructure & curriculum matters – but any curriculum delivered by a good passionate teacher/team, is far better for your child, than a great curriculum /infrastructure with sub – optimal unengaged teachers – who are just trying to follow routine school protocols.
- teacher – child ratio teacher to child ratio exceeding 15 children is sub-optimal, and so school’s with much larger number of kids/class are best “passed” on – as frankly teacher is unable to adequately focus on each child – despite any state of the art curriculum.
- number of sections – less sections, ideally not more than 2-3 sections per grade is much better. Unfortunately, if the school has large number of sections for each class, it’s not very good for younger/smaller children (up to primary grades), who feel lost – as they are transitioning from home to school, (more so, since most children are now joining school after the covid isolation periods and social skills/comfort to engage with others is low). Studies indicate that in schools with large number of sections – incidence of low self-esteem, lower confidence, weaker learning capabilities are far more often observed, than in compact smaller school campuses – with lesser total number of children. Internationally, for this reason, nursery, primary, middle & high schools are distinct campuses – and all school programs usually “not” in the same campus – and so children graduate to bigger school campuses every few years – and learning effectiveness is optimised. So best school for your child, does not have thousands of children, rather fewer – perhaps a few hundred children. Small is beautiful.
- Curriculum. There are quite a few curriculums in schools – ranging from CBSE and ICSC to international IB and Cambridge curriculums. But choosing between curriculums is frankly more relevant in middle & high schools – as in the early years the baseline educational & literacy foundations are being inculcated in children – and it is only later that curriculum differences get materially manifested. Besides, different people have different views on curriculums and there are pros and cons – all of which are best reviewed once the child is around 12 years or so – and the choice of curriculum’s can be better made – based on the child’s level of development/aptitude/goals. During early years – nursery & primary grades most schools have operationally their own day/week/month wise education lesson/education plans (e.g. ours is a blend of child development practices drawn for international psychology experts PIAGET, VYGOSTKY, BRUNER – blended with CBSE, Cambridge & NCERT)– so while focus is initially on cognitive & play/activities led development + inculcating the foundational 3Rs – reading, writing & arithmetic, some arts, science, project work, extracurriculars & sports grounding is also progressively done till class 5. Therefore, for the early/primary years – its ok to try to evaluate the core education approach of the school, operational rigor & school philosophy – i.e. things like academic focus or all round development, etc, etc – and see which approach aligns with what you as a parent is looking for. The decision on which Board to choose can be taken in middle or senior school – there is no rush for that. as mentioned, fortunately in Gurgaon its easy to switch schools – so no need to worry at this stage.
- Ventilation & School safety. having come through the COVID years and given that there is possibility of newer viruses emerging – its important that school infrastructure, hygiene, cleanliness, & safety – security procedures & are evaluated. Keep in mind that school – “ventilation” – is as important – as open windows are fresh circulating air does mitigate the viral load in the air circulating inside the campus & school rooms. UNICEF has been trying to emphasise the need for good ventilation in schools globally.
- Wholistic learning important – not 100% learning via SCREENs. Yes, wholistic learning, rather than only academics, is desirable to get them ready for the fast evolving future– but question to ask is how is learning being delivered? A 100% screen based digital learning only environment is highly “undesirable” during the early/primary years (can be progressively increased in later years). In some advanced countries like France & Germany – screens are banned in schools till age of 12. Although screens as a supplementary teaching/explaining/discussion aid is occasionally fine – in say a blended or hybrid learning environment – but the global best practice is that schooling education in the younger years is best done mainly via chalk/pencil and on paper or via wholistic project work or physical activities.
- Experience of Management & reputation. Evaluate the school on management quality – team quality/delivery reputation and years of experience. Schooling is a complex activity – with people, process and operational strengths critical – for effectiveness. An in person conversation/walk throughs as well feedback from other parents will help you score the school.
- Diversity in the class is important. the most expensive/fancy brand school, may not be the best, for your child’s education. A very expensive school – may well have the best infrastructure & teachers/curriculums – but if it’s got all kids only from very rich families – your child may lose out on the peer learning from a more diverse class group/school culture – which may help the child in learning important values like humility, giving respect and measuring others & themselves not by fancy surrogates like expensive cars/toys/clothes – but far more important educational/success measures.
- Values are important – not just the 3Rs, STEM, extracurriculars, etc. how holistic is the education model of the school – apart from experiential, project-based learning – does the school focus on life skills, values – as some of these soft, behavioural aspects are as important for success in life.
So research most schools nearby – and score them on a 10-point scale on each of above 10 parameters – to generate your overall school score on the 100 points – and thus do benchmarking/ranking all the school’s nearby to choose out which to apply to for your lovely child.
Hence, if you are looking for the best nursery school in Gurgaon for your kids, then you can visit The Sixth Element School.
Hope this helps! With our best wishes, Team TSE