So how should we select the right good school for your child, in these rapidly evolving times.
Here are key points to choose the best/right school for educating & nurturing our children today, so as to make them ready for the future.
- LESS IS MORE (LOOK FOR SMALLER CAMPUSES – WHERE THERE IS FOCUS ON EACH CHILD)
Internationally in most developed countries, school’s are smaller compact campuses, split into 4 categories
- Nursery schools(pre-primary programs – upto Kindergarten classes)
- Elementary schools (Primary classes – upto grade 5)
- Middle schools ( 6th to 8th grades)
- High Schools ( 9th to 12th grades)
This enables optimum focus on “each child”, while enabling team building – and also smaller number of children in the campus enables the child to adjust/transition as well as gain the most from the school milieu – with similar age group children clustered together.
SO ITS IMPORTANT TO LOOK FOR LESS STUDENTS/CLASS; OPTIMUM STUDENT TEACHER RATIO & FEWER TOTAL NUMBER OF SECTIONS PER CLASS IN SCHOOL
- teacher to children ration of around 12 to 15 students/teacher is optimum
equally important is fewer sections /grade – as otherwise the total number of students in the campus becomes very high, leading to a “mobs” like, very busy school environment, especially during school mornings/lunch breaks/events/closings – i.e a chaotic environment.
Bullying or lack of self-esteem are sometimes resultant adverse fall outs with too many kids(some schools sadly have thousands of children in a campus) – if the number of sections per class significantly increases beyond
THEREFORE SMALLER NEIGHBORHOOD COMPACT CAMPUSES ARE BEST FOR YOUR CHILD
especially nursery & primary school campuses are typically “neighbourhood” campuses with lessor number of children and distinct focus & milieu.
Middle and high schools – can be sometimes larger – and given the need for more sports facilities & labs, other learning infrastructure and are thus sometimes more distant from residential neighbourhoods.
careful review of “very large” school campuses – with thousands of children – often camouflages multiple operational problems. Schools with a max of of few hundred children, certainly not few “thousand” chaotic schools is best for your child.
In this context, maybe worthwhile to reflect on how “unsettling” it could potentially be for your “small child” to go daily to a school, with mobs of children at the entrance, exit, each floor, building, playground?
safety or security issues could thus potentially crop up, despite systems or best efforts of the school management in such large campuses.
School’s are very complex institutions to operate and manage – so maybe best to avoid “ school chains” – despite the seeming advantage of ease of transfer across cities, which in relation to the impact on your child of the good, high quality , well managed institution with good teachers and a well-honed management team.
- DISTANCE – avoid distant “best” schools !
A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL IS MORE PRACTICAL & IMPACTFUL FOR A CHILD – THAN THE FAR AWAY “BEST SCHOOL”
leaving for school at 7 or 8 am, can make a significant difference for both the child & parents, each morning – besides the extra daily “wasteful extra commute” of say an hour or more, day after day, which can far better utilised, including morning/evening exercise, sports, activities, fun time or study.
So ideally look for a good school, within a radius of 5 Kms, of your residence.
- TEACHER COMMITMENT & QUALITY
is one of the most important parameters to try and assess, dear parent. As more than school infrastructure, – good, committed, quality “teachers” can immensely “transform” our children. Conversations with some of the school staff may help to assess this– as also references from other/ex-parents.
Other lead indicators of teacher commitment & good school management are parameters like ‘staff attrition”, school culture, class/school upkeep, etc – which during school visit conversations with school staff can reveal a lot – on this soft, but important parameter
- SCHOOL CULTURE & PEER GROUP
A warm, nurturing, positive & respectful culture can be easily sensed in any organisation, more so in a school – so a walk through when the school is running – can help to assess this. Its rather important, as this is like a 2nd home for any child, and peer group does make a huge difference to shape our children, in the early/younger formative years.
Children emulate other children/adults naturally – so peers impact the child tangibly. As an example, if you’re from “say” upper middle sections of society – and the company of children in the school are from “super rich” families – used to very expensive dresses, fancy cars, frequent international holidays, etc – can lead to adverse peer pressure, which may not be in the best, long term interest of your child. Each family/parent may thus need to think through this subtle, but important parameter carefully, even if you can afford such expensive big brand school.
- CURRICULAM & PEDAGOGY
Curriculum & pedagagy is often classified as CBSE, ICSC, NCERT, Cambridge, IB Boards.
while there are pros and cons of each curriculum – it is important to realise that practically these are all good, continuously improved well-regulated Internationally recognised education frameworks – and in the long run, which curriculum the child has been tutored on – is “not” a material differentiator, for admission to good colleges or success in life.
most of these schooling frameworks are now improving further, under the new education policy(NEP) under roll out in India – which will majorly improve school education in India, going forwards – and thus all these school frameworks broadly work well – especially in the foundational early/primary/middle school years.
As a parent, its worthwhile to keep in mind that differences in these frameworks become material to some extent, only in middle/high schools (i.e. closer to class 10 or 12) – as these frameworks or BOARDS are mainly schooling ability assessment & “examination” bodies.
Moreover, since the new Common University Entrance Test(CUET) is getting rolled out under India’s evolved new education policy(NEP), which is just like the SAT test, the importance of scoring “high marks” in class 12 – for getting admission into college has got diluted. Going forwards – all that will really matter is the child’s CUET score, which like SAT scores will test the child’s core abilities built over years – all across the schooling – particularly the foundation – for which the early, primary and middle years are most critical in the coming times.
- WHOLISTIC EDUCATION – NOT JUST ACADEMICS
This is far more self-evident, especially in these evolving times of CHAT GPT, AI, etc, etc . All round wholistic development is by far, even more important, than just focus on academics, for success in life. This the future of Education – crystallised as Education 4.0 by most education think tanks globally and is a cornerstone of our NEP under roll out in India too. This includes building diverse abilities – such as fluency in communication & social skills, broad spectrum abilities in both STEM & arts, physical flexibility & strengthening, comfort with games, sports, theatre, dance, music, communication, life skills, values, -and new age skills like innovation & comfort of doing things in teams. How all of this is integrated into the curriculum & pedagogy, day, week, month, year plans of the school – can be interesting to discuss and understand at a high level, dear parent, for which a school walk through and dialogue with school staff will help.
- PROJECT/ACTIVITIES LED LEARNING
Rote learning is obviously “old” world now.
Understanding “Purpose” of learning is very important – for children today – as the “why” ignites & retains learning continuity in the child. And hence projects/activities are useful, especially when done in small groups, which enable / illustrate and reinforce the “how” and “why” of learning the subject. This is the new age, Internationally accepted & researched method of futuristic new age learning & schooling – Education 4.0 whereby children discover & appreciate the utility of the subject. Dialogue/open positive discussion in groups helps to discover, uncover underlying concepts and learn better. All this is described as “experiential” learning by some schools.
Although it is important, for us to carefully evaluate how “experiential learning” is being delivered “and look for schools – where largely “physical” experiential” learning/activites including learning “life skills” such as fixing devices and the actually playing with innards of technology, creativity & art – and “NOT” SCREEN based digital experiential learning only.
SCREENS based learning dilutes focus and makes children addicted to screens – and besides. there is enough and more evidence that extensive use of screens does impact eyes. So while by high school, some subject level understanding/ discovery via screens will need to supplement learning via books & physical projects – in the early & primary/middle grades screen based schooling is best “completely avoided”.
So in many advanced countries like France & Germany – screens based schooling is completely banned by parliamentary law for children upto age 12 .
- VENTILATED, AIRY, SPACIOUS, HYGENIC, GREEN CAMPUS, INFRASTRUCTURE
Good Ventilation is “critical for children”. Airing the classrooms and allowing “still” enclosed air to flow out, replenished by fresh air and oxygen(from plants on the campus) is important for health and safety of children.
UNICEF has been repeatedly emphasising the importance of cross-ventilation, by opening windows for a few hours daily, during COVID times too, as a critical input especially for schools globally – as they started opening up – to enable virus and bacteria to be aired out. Lots of greenery, including some air cleaning plants – help in mitigating/eliminating adverse impact of pollution – in those months, besides recharging the air and making the environment positive, which plants help. Air is one the five elements, and thus important for the health for our dear ones, visiting parents and staff!
And therefore, given humanity’s recent COVID experience – and number of hours children end up spending at school, there is a “question mark” on fully enclosed, airconditioned learning spaces/schools? – best avoided.
- NO SCREENS or VERY LIMITED SCREENS BASED LEARNING
Research indicates that schooling during the early/middle years – particularly about age 12 – should be done without screens. Writing, painting, doing with hands reinforces the neurons and brain-body abilities in ways – which screen based learning does not. So learning on IPADs/tablets should be a strict NO. there is considerable debate on this matter – and schools are broadly broken up into two camps- with some big brand, expensive schools leveraging IPADS/tablets/screens extensively – with almost everything including writing/painting/creative work done on screens – and the school bag – having a laptop and not workbooks as the major schooling tool. Considering that many advanced countries like France and Germany have banned the use of screens in schools – upto age 12 , it is worthwhile to delay and gradually introduce some screen based schooling , only by middle & further in high school.
- NO NEED TO LOOK FOR “CRADLE TO HIGH SCHOOL” SCHOOLING AT ONE BIG MASSIVE SCHOOL CAMPUS.
Times are changing. gurgaon has fortunately got lots of schools – and relative to many other cities, its easy to shift schools in any class. Many students-parents do change schools later/especially during middle school as the focus of the child becomes clearer.
This city – also has a lot of migrant/mobile population, with many parents constrained to move cities – for work – and thus most schools have seats getting vacant/available across classes every year– as families move out and like many families coming into Gurgaon, its very easy to change schools here – so dear parent please don’t worry – if your child cannot get into your perceived fancy brand school, its ok.
maybe you’ll get into that campus in a couple of years. As it is, many of us have studied in different schools and colleges – through our lives – for various reasons – so it does not really matter if your child is not accepted in your dream school now.
We earnestly hope the above helps dear parent! Do let us know your thoughts and please do write to us or visit us, if you have more questions. We will be glad to be of help.
At the sixth element school – we appreciate that “learning” is a natural instinct, just like many of our natural urges like breathing, eating, etc. The innate desire to learn, understand, discover, learn new capabilities, skills, simply needs to be catalysed & nurtured, by various aspects such great teachers, the right curriculum, cutting edge new age teaching methodologies and green, eco-friendly positive environment, so “learning & discovery becomes a joy” and children just look forward to going to school.
Our school’s internationally benchmarked learning curriculum – “like in most developed countries” – recognises that the first early & primary grade years upto the age of 12 life especially, is foundational for lifelong well-being, overall growth and development across all dimensions – physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional – which we call – the sixth element , i.e. igniting the joy of learning !
Schooling for the future is not learning a static body of knowledge – rather it’s a lifelong skill and capability – and a high quality modern/contemporary global future ready school recognises this.
what happens in a high quality school to quench this natural desire to learn is therefore an important question? Are we forcing children to learn – or are we allowing the sponge like brains of our fast developing children to enjoy learning, discovery.
learning to differentiate right from wrong, i.e values further strengthens these innate capabilities – and are as if not most important !