Selecting a school for your child
Baby Steps
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IT’S that time of year again — face-to-face school is on in full swing, and for parents who have been online for the last couple years, this is the time to select a school for your children to attend come September. For many schools, especially at the basic school level, registration ended in April, but others are still doing late registration.

Whether the child is going to school for the first time, moving up a grade, or starting a whole new level of education, selecting and settling on a school can be an arduous task. Because you want to ensure that you get everything right — the location, the best teachers, the availability of extracurricular activities, opportunities for friendship and networking, and even the cutest or coolest looking uniforms for your young charges! No parent wants to stock up on everything for a school, then have to be thinking of transferring their child, because they’re not pleased with one thing or another.

How do you go about selecting the right school for your child?

Know the checklist

There are certain things that all schools require for registration. These are:

•A copy of the child’s birth certificate

•A copy of the child’s immunisation records

• One to two passport-sized photos

• Registration fee

• For the child to be available for an assessment (some schools)

• Interview with the parents (some schools).

Note that you will also be required to do a medical exam for the child, and also pay PTA and insurance dues with your September term fees.

No one knows more about your child than you, therefore it is important that you choose the school that best suits your child in order for him/her to excel and develop his/her full potential. Jamaica has numerous school types at the early childhood, primary and secondary levels. Here are a few things to consider when you are choosing a school for your child, courtesy of the Ministry of Education.

Know your child

This is very important. Children are not mini versions of their parents. They are their own unique beings with their own personalities. Some are academic-oriented, whilst others are skill or artistic-oriented. Try to understand what are your child’s interest before selecting a school for him/her

Know the school

Do some research and find out the type of curriculum the school offers. If your child is more skill-oriented then a technical school, or one that offers the Abeka or Montessori system may be best for him/her. Find out about the facilities and infrastructure of the school. If the school is a private or independent one, make sure it is registered with the Ministry of Education and the Early Childhood Commission, and abide by all the rules stated in the Education Act.

Travel/distance

Examine the cost of travel when selecting a school for your child. If a school in your community offers a curriculum that suits your child, then it could be more advantageous if your child attends that school. But you also have to think about where you work. Is it better for your child to attend a school near work? How feasible will it be to leave work to get to the child’s school in your community if say there’s an emergency, and you live in Old Harbour but work in Kingston? Will you be transporting the child, or will they take public transportation. Can they manage public transportation? All these factors have to be considered in making your choice.

Avoid stereotypes

Many parents tend to choose schools based on the influence of other parents, their perceptions, and what they have heard from the mass media. Choose a school that is in the best interest of your child. Remember, a child can do well at any school if you get involved in his/her education and encourage them along the way.

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