What to look for when choosing the right primary school for your child

Choosing a primary school can be a challenging and worrisome process. How do we know which Primary school is best for our children? What are the types of things we should look out for when choosing schools? To help parents make well-informed decisions, Ms Susan Ward, our founding principal, along with Ms Becky, our K2 English teacher, share some insight as to the challenges faced by parents and highlight 4 key considerations to take into account when looking for the right school.

Parents often start their Primary school search by listening to the recommendations of friends, relatives, or colleagues. Many of us might have heard things along the lines of ‘my child goes to X and he loves it’, or ‘my friend goes to Y and it’s great!’ Some of us might even have liked what we heard so much we even chose those same schools for our own children. Yet, the problem with this is that when judging a school by the opinions of others, we often get emotional opinions not factual information. How do we know that the school Emily mentioned would be suitable for our own child too? Or what about the one Susan recommended…what is it about that school their child likes? Although recommendations can be useful when researching schools, it is necessary to dive a bit deeper, asking questions like ‘what makes this school my friend mentioned good?’ Or ‘why does my friend like this school in specific compared to other schools? What is it about this school that they like?’ Make sure to get specific information on each individual school as choice of school is often not a one-size-fits-all. Every school has its own merits and downfalls, and must be considered together with the needs of your child. Without further ado, let’s get into some of these considerations…

Consideration # 1: Start with a discussion amongst your family on what you want for your child
First of all, it is very important for you to be thinking about your child and what is right for him/her and not what is right for other people. A good starting point would be looking at what your educational beliefs are. What type of curriculum would suit your child best? What about the language of instruction? Does the school adopt bilingual/dual language presence at school? What homework expectations are there? Are you a parent that wants your child to have more homework or would you prefer the school to have a more equal balance of extracurricular activities with homework? Homework can often affect the home work life balance; would you be available to help your child long term if they are in a school that gives out a big workload? Location considerations are needed too; your child will be at school 5-6 hours a day so it is important to factor in travelling times as your child may be very tired. Budget may also make or break your decision as there may be additional hidden costs involved so try to research this beforehand.

Consideration # 2: School tours and visits
Secondly, it is good to do your research online to find out more. Look at the websites of different schools…what is their philosophy, curriculum, language etc? When you have contemplated these, choose your preferred 3-5 schools and visit them. Prepare some questions to ask on-site and make sure you know everything you need to know about them. Take your child with you and try to see the school from the perspective of your child. There will be things you like and dislike about each school, but what is important is that you look for a balance in these and focus on the right ‘fit’for your child and family. 

Consideration # 3: Year of birth
Each school has a year of birth for admissions. Schools only accept children born within that birth range. If your child was born late in the school year, it could result in non-acceptance. If your child was born early, it could result in him/her not being ready for Primary school socially and/or academically. You can research this information on school websites. Remember that it is not a race and that it is better for a child to be older amongst the year group than the youngest socially and academically.Again, think about the needs of your child and what is right for their learning.

Consideration # 4: Apply to a few schools
Finally, do not put all your eggs in 1 basket. Parents should apply to a few schools so as to make sure there are options to choose from.

So there you have it! The 4 key considerations to take into account when choosing the right school for your child. We all want to give our child the best advantage possible, but it is important to make sure your choice of school is somewhere that is suited to the needs of your child as well as fitting into the values of your family. The right school for your child will differ according to his/her individual case. Importantly, remember to look at where you would see your child being the best version of themselves they can be. Looking at your expectations of education, online websites and info, cut off dates for year of birth and applying to several are all good places to start.

In March we will also be giving a live Facebook session on ‘Primary School interview readiness: 5 things you need to know’ so stay tuned to learn more!

Developing Writing Skills in the Early Years

How young children develop their writing skills, and the different ways in which we can support them with their emergent writing in the early years

What is emergent writing?

Emergent writing is when children use mark-making, as a means of communication. Children as young as 2 years old will start making marks for many reasons; for pure physical enjoyment as they delight in the opportunity to explore and experiment using their senses, and to communicate their ideas, thoughts and feelings to us. Before they can even use words to express themselves, they use mark-making to make their thinking visible to us.

What can we do to support children in their journey to writing?

Physical activities

The first thing we can do is provide children with lots of physical activities. When children are physically active, they develop their core strength, dexterity and hand-to-eye coordination. Therefore, providing children with lots activities to develop their fine-motor and gross-motor skills will help children to become physically ready for the demands of writing at a later stage.

With fine-motor skills, this involves using smaller movements of the body, such as our hands and fingers. Activities to develop these skills can include threading beads through a piece of yarn, or using tongs to transfer objects from one container to another. With gross-motor skills we are using controlled movements of our whole body, such as our arms and legs. Children enjoy playing games such as ‘throw and catch’ using a ball, which makes use of their whole body as they move and adjust their bodies to catch the ball.

Mark-making through multi-sensory activities

It is important that we provide children with plenty of opportunities to engage in mark-making through multi-sensory activities. Children who engage in these types of activities are less likely to form bad habits in writing at a later stage. Providing children with a range of tools and materials will make these sessions engaging and fun for them. This can include providing children with different coloured paper with different textures, or even interesting mark-making tools to experiment with, such as corks, straws and sponges.

Adult participation and encouragement

Children enjoy the participation of adults, so invite your child to join you with every-day tasks and activities. For example, when you are writing a shopping list or doing other daily writing tasks, encourage your child to watch you write so you are modelling the writing, and ask your child to give you suggestions as to what you should write.

Children are more inclined to think creatively in a secure and trusting environment. By praising children for their efforts and showing an interest in what they are doing, this will encourage them to feel more confident and excited to continue with similar activities.

By providing children with strong foundations during the early years, we are enabling children to develop into confident and able writers. So, let’s celebrate their achievements along the way and help them to develop into independent writers, who write with purpose and joy.

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