By: Em Cruz
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I made the decision to apply and enroll our daughter for kinder in a big school. She will be 5 years old this July and has finished pre-kinder in a small progressive school near us. We were planning to stay in the said school for her kinder year before transferring to a big school for Grade 1, but the directress advised us to reconsider and let her do her kinder year in a big school. So we did, we were able to apply and enroll her into a new, big school in a span of one to two weeks.
Since this is the second year we have done this, I’ve learned a few things. So I’m sharing a few tips for other parents who might also be in the process of starting off their child’s school career.
Think about the basic arrangements.
The first thing to do is consider your and your child’s arrangements. Ask yourself questions such as:
- Is it important for the school to be near my home? Or is a school near my workplace better?
- How will my child get to school everyday? How will he get home?
- If I or another caregiver will take him, how will we get there? How far and long is the commute?
Answering such questions will help you limit your school options in terms of location.
Once you have identified the best school locations for your family, you can then start researching about the best schools in the said areas. Aside from Google, you can also ask Facebook mommy groups about school recommendations.
Start an Excel file.
Since you are bound to get a lot of school options, collate your research in one Excel file. When Google-ing or asking for recommendations, always take note of the school’s website and contact numbers and include these in your Excel worksheet.
Think of your other school considerations and Excel it.
Now is the time to take note of your other school considerations (and questions) and include them all in your Excel. Some things you can consider include:
- Teaching style: Is the school progressive, traditional, or Montessori?
- Teacher to student ratio: Some parents prefer a lower ratio of students to teachers especially if this is their kid’s first year in school.
- School fees, inclusions, and payment terms: One of every parent’s primary consideration is the school fees and inclusions. Don’t hesitate to ask about the total tuition fee cost or even range, so that you will have an idea if you can afford it. Also ask about the tuition fee inclusions, as some schools include uniforms, school supplies, field trips, and other activities’ costs in their fees. Doing so will give you an idea about the costs you will have to pay off for the entire school year. Aside from these, also ask the school’s payment terms: if they allow parents to settle the fees in annual, bi-annual, or quarterly terms.
Call them up.
Although a lot of schools already have their own websites, a lot of them still do not include important details such as school fees and teacher to student ratio. So in such cases, you still have to call them up and ask about it outright. You can also inquire if they have upcoming open houses or free classes that you and your child can participate in.
Visit and get a feel of it.
Once you’re done with research and your calls, you might already have a shortlist of schools that you like over the others. You can then schedule your school visits and even free classes. Doing so will allow you and your child to get a feel of the school in general, and even the teachers and classrooms. At the same time, the visit will allow you and your child to do a “practice” run of the commute to and from the school and if you both can do it everyday for the next school year. This could play a big role in your final decision over which school to send your child to.
Prepare your child’s basic documents/requirements.
Even if schools do not list their tuition fees on their websites, most of them do list their basic requirements and admission procedures. Some even have downloadable application forms readily available. Even if you haven’t decided yet on the final school, you can still start preparing the basic documents your child might need for admission. A lot of schools require the following basic documents:
- PSA Certified Birth Certificate (you can apply for this online and receive the document in a week)
- Parent’s Marriage Certificate (if applicable)
- Baptismal Certificate (if applicable)
- ID photos (a lot of schools require either 1×1 or 2×2 recent ID photos)
Choosing your child’s first school can be a huge decision, but with proper research and preparation, it need not be stressful. So good luck!
Em Cruz is MomCenter’s editor and a doting mom to a decisive yet sweet daughter. When she doesn’t have her hands full of motherhood, she moonlights as a geek and bibliophile. Follow her mom-adventures via her Instagram.