Education is an essential part of a child's life.
With the right tools and learning mechanisms taught, a child can grow into their potential, and develop social skills while also finding the right career path for their future.
One of the biggest steps however, is to find the right school, that caters to a child's every need and helps them cultivate the talents they possess.
With so many options available, especially ranging in the different curriculums, finding the right school can, for many, be a challenging task.
To make the process easier on the parents, all schools host open days and school visits for parents and children to get a better idea of the facilities at the school, as well as the place where their children will be spending a good chunk of their childhood creating and learning.
To help make open days and school visits be more insightful, Connector, in conversation with schools around Dubai, shared how to parents can make best use of the visit to the school.
One of the key benefits of attending open days is being able to interact with other parents, children as well as staff, to gain insight into how the school operates and get all the answers on the spot, while also understanding the environment in person.
Mark Ford, Principal at The English College Dubai said, "Open days are a great way to experience the school and meet other interested families, that way, you also learn from their journey. The leadership team will answer all your questions, and you can always organise something more private if you think it fits your family."
Depending on whether parents are looking to enrol their child at the beginning or during the academic year, visiting the school during open days allows parents to better interact with the staff and teachers, as they will be available and not busy when visiting during school hours.
Eloïse Briey, Boarding Assistant at Swiss International School Dubai said, "The best time to visit a school is really when it is convenient for you. But outside that, the ideal time would be during specific open days when more members of staff and teachers are available to answer any questions you have, or questions you did not even know you had! You can always go back and visit a school for second time to see it in day time, operational hours as well. At SISD, we are very happy to support school tours and offer them every day of the week."
While visiting, parents should be mindful of these points, to ensure that the school is providing all the necessary requirements to their students.
Eloïse Briey of Swiss International School Dubai said,
- Happy and engaged children
- Qualified and experienced teachers
- Facilities, learning environments
- Extracurricular activities and sports offered, particularly if your child is interested in specific ones
- Opportunities to gain life skills, for example, enterprise activities, Duke of Edinburgh, Service-based learning, and more
- What are the values of the school, and are they alive and well?
- Organisation and safety
When children are invested in going to school, have the right tools under the guidance of the staff, have a place that they are comfortable enough to succeed in and are given the opportunities to grow through academics and extracurriculars, will help ensure that a child will be successful at the school.
Additionally, Mark Ford of The English College Dubai mentioned the important factors to consider for a child's overall growth and happiness in the school are,
- The community
- What are the exam results like, and what destination do the students go to?
- Where are the teaching staff from, and how much experience do they have?
- What is the turnover of the staff?
- What are the class sizes?
- Who owns the school?
Exams are a vital part of a child's academic life, and enquiring about the process of examinations as well as regarding the staff and community, will help gauge if a child will be able to cope and thrive at the school.
Additionally, parents with children that are exceptionally talented in academics, sports and arts, and would like their children to have more emphasis in that specific field, should talk to the teachers managing the teams to figure out whether their child will be able to continue to grow their talents at the school.
Eloïse Briey, of Swiss International School Dubai said, "Depending on your child’s interests or needs, whether academic, artistic, athletic, wellbeing, a member of the relevant department will be able to answer any questions or concerns in more depth."
Checking the facilities and reading about the schools is a good way to get an idea of the school, however, communicating with the heads at the school helps to see if the child's requirements are provided by the school and match the school values, making it one of the crucial ways to see if the school is the right fit.
Mark Ford of The English College Dubai advised, "The most important point of reference is the Principal, the Heads of School and the Senior Leaders to understand if their philosophy and aspirations align with yours. Connecting with other parents can be crucial to understanding the strengths and the areas of opportunity."
Another great way to easily narrow down schools is by getting in touch with other parents. By interacting with mutual friends or joining school groups and posing questions about the school, will aid parents in ensuring that the school is the right fit for their child.
Eloïse Briey of Swiss International School Dubai said, "Having been through the process, other parents will be able to relate to you and give you valuable information about their and their child’s experience at the school."
Open days and school visits are a great initiative by schools to assist parents in finding a suitable school for their child and ease their worry about whether the school will bring out the best in their child.
Mark Ford of The English College Dubai mentioned, "You know your child better than anyone, and not all schools cater for their needs, select a couple of important questions to help you shortlist the best options."
Although there are many ways to decide, it is imperative to listen to instincts, as parents know their child's needs the best and will be able to find the school that is the right fit.
Eloïse Briey of Swiss International School Dubai said, "A lot of make or break factors boil down to personal preference. It is important for you to decide what your non-negotiables are. Those can be anything from subjects offered, amount of homework, sports facilities to accessibility."
Finding the proper school can be a difficult process, but with the different initiatives set in place, including communicating with staff and heads, talking to parents, and assessing the school, school visits can be a fruitful experience, for parents and children alike to find the school that works for each child and helps to bring out and hone all their talents and skills.