How to choose the right school for your child

It's important to take into account your child's personality, learning style and interests.

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When it comes to choosing a school for your child, the deciding factor isn’t always as simple as geography.

While some families are satisfied with enrolling their budding scholar in the school closest to home, the selection process can be more complicated for others.

From schools that focus on the arts or Montessori method to traditional schools, French immersion programs and Francophone education, nowadays, there are plenty of options to take into consideration.

In addition to the type of school, there’s also staff, curriculum and the general vibe you and your child get when you walk through the front door.

So how do you decide? Let’s break it down.

Who is your child? Before you even begin the search for the ‘right’ school, make sure to take your child’s strengths, weaknesses and overall personality into account. What are their interests and hobbies? What subjects are they most drawn to? What would you say their natural abilities are? Is your child good with languages?

Look at the ratio of students to teachers – B.C. has limits on public class sizes for kindergarten (22 students) and Grades 1 to 3 (24 students). Beyond that, they are not to exceed 30 students except in exceptional circumstances. If you’re concerned about a school having full classrooms and low teacher ratio, find out how the teachers deal with it. Do the students work in small groups? How do they get unique attention and individualized assignments?

Get a good feel for the school — Don’t just trust a school’s website or referrals. The only real way to get a sense of what it’s all about is to visit it for yourself. Are you happy with the vibe you get when you walk through the front door? Is it warm and inviting or cold and institutional? Do the students and faculty seem happy to be there?

Make a list of priorities (what is important for you vs. what is important to your child)– Your child varies in so many ways, and yet, they also share many qualities with others their age. They are also bound to share several of your traits, but not necessarily the same interests or learning style. When deciding on a school, remember that your child has a unique mix of wants, needs, capabilities and motives. All these factors will affect the kind of environment in which each child learns best.

What is the school philosophy? Every school and every teacher follows a certain philosophy of education. It is this philosophy that influences how and what students are taught in the classroom. Unsure of where to find it? Most schools talk about their philosophies and approach in some form of documentation, often as a prospectus, handbook or charter. You might also find this information online.

With these handy tips in mind, you’re well on your way to finding the right school that is sure to complement your child’s learning style, personality and interests.

Having the right French teacher and program can also make a huge difference in your child’s education.

Since it was established in 1995, the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique has been providing educational programs and services promoting the comprehensive development and cultural identity of the province’s Francophone students. A partner in the advancement of the Francophone community in British Columbia, the CSF now has more than 5,00 students attending 37 schools – including 24 homogeneous French-language schools – and serves around 100 communities throughout the province.

Click here for the French school in Chilliwack for more information.

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