Providing your child with the right school education is one of the most important decisions you'll make regarding their future. Understandably, this can put quite a lot of pressure on you as a parent! You want to make sure that you do all that you can to help your child realise his or her potential and have the best education possible.
The best way to deal with it is to do your research and allow yourself plenty of time to consider all the options. Read on for some helpful advice that will help you and your child on the road to enrolment.
Different Teaching and Learning Styles
At present, the majority of India's schools are regulated by each state and overseen by the government, though there are many private schools and those with alternative learning styles. So what are the main options for children's school education today? Standard central schools, or Kendriya Vidyalayas, teach the syllabus from the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and are normally textbook and classroom-based.
There are also state schools that teach the ICSE or Indian Certificate of Secondary Education but these can be harder to find in smaller, rural areas. Private schools often have more flexibility in what they teach in early childhood education.
You might find some which teach the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, often with a mix of international and Indian students, though these come with fairly high fees. There are 103 schools in India that use the IB programme.
Others employ what's known as the 'student-centric' approach, offering resources for children who may need additional help, such as those with dyslexia. This type of school tends to have a high teacher-student ratio.
Some exclusive schools use the 'Montessori method' of teaching, which involves starting the children at a pre-school age of 2 ½ years, with social and experiential learning. But alternative teaching is also found at some state schools around Mysore and Bangalore, which have been using 'Chaitanya' in recent years, emphasising interactive learning through song and performance.
How to Hunt for Good Schools
Even once you've decided on the type of education you're looking for, searching through dozens of schools in your area can leave you feeling overwhelmed! Finding the right school is all about matching your expectations and making sure it's a place that will develop your child to their full potential.
You might find it useful to have a checklist to refer to. These could be questions that you ask at every school you visit. Think about things like computing, arts and sports facilities, as well as more fundamental points like curriculum and class sizes. Use prospectuses and school websites to explore the school's aims. Does it sound like an ambitious, forward-thinking institution?
Open days can be really useful in terms of talking to teachers about their approach, getting a feel for their relationship with the kids, as well as speaking to other parents about the decisions they made and why. And don't forget to talk to other mothers – find out what schools they are considering and their views on the application process. This can be very reassuring and informative for you!
Preparing for the Admissions Process
So you've made that nail-biting final decision and begun the admissions process? Getting through school applications with your child can be a daunting prospect – the application process can be quite complicated and demanding – but a little preparation goes a long way.
Firstly, have a look through the school's literature. It should tell you what they want to see and hear from your child. Though your child will only be around 3 or 4 years old before kindergarten, they will need to sit through an admissions interview and may even be required to give an oral test.
This interview requires both of you to be prepared! So make sure you know about the school and talk to your little one about it, so they know where they're going. It's important that your child can tell the teacher simple facts like their name, where they live and talk about their family.
Encourage your child's natural curiosity by reading with them at home and pointing out things like birds and trees when you're out, developing their ability to talk about the world around them. Prepare your child by teaching them how to greet adults and show good manners with phrases like 'Good morning' and 'Thank you'.
Instil these habits in your children when family and friends visit, and they should be well-practised by the time the interview comes round.
Financing Education with a Child Education Plan
Even with all the stress of finding a good school for your child, funding can be a separate issue. If you decide that you wish to send your kids to a private school, it's something you will need to plan well in advance. It's a good idea to start saving for a child education plan even before they're born, to guarantee there will be enough money in place, should they wish to continue onto higher education.
Invest enough to cover them until around the age of 24, when they should be able to look after themselves financially. There are various child investment schemes available from your bank or insurance provider. Often the most sensible long-term plan is creating mutual funds or stocks for your child, rather than a fixed deposit. It's advisable to separate different funds if you have more than one child, and set specific goals for each.
When the time comes for your little one to start school, make sure you discuss additional costs with the schools you're looking at, such as uniform, outings, club memberships. This will all need factoring into your child education plan and should help prevent any unexpected expenses down the line.
Overall, it's important to remember to include your child in the process of finding the right education and school; they may not understand every choice you make regarding their school education, but once it's decided, this might be the place they're spending the next seven, ten or even twelve years of their life, after all!