Choosing the right school for your child

The Greater Durban area and wider KZN offers a huge variety of schools, but which one is right for your child?

The weight of this decision weighs heavily on many parents as your choice will have a huge impact on the formative years of your child’s life. The first step towards making the best choice, is to know and understand your child.

Ask yourself: Which school would get the best out of my child so that he would make progress and achieve his potential? Your child’s character and emotions should also play an important role in your decision.

Look at the school’s philosophy and whether it fits in with your family values.

Ask the school what type of child they expect at their school. Attend open days to get a sense of the school’s ethos. See the school in action during a school day to try to get a picture of the school as it really is and trust your gut instinct. Is there a sense that relationships are warm, that children are engaged and learning? Are the principal and teachers approachable, genuine, and trustworthy? Take your child with you and listen to what they say.

Speak to friends about their preferences and chat to children of parents already placed in schools about their experiences. Look closely at the pupils – their manners, relationships, approach towards their teachers and their teachers’ approach towards them. Look at the school’s website. Is it informative? Look at the school magazine, the headmaster’s report, pupil’s writing, art, clubs and sports.

Also take into consideration these important factors:

• Teacher to pupil ratio/class size?

• Single sex vs co-ed?

• Is the school a feeder facility for your preferred primary/high school?

• Proximity to your home?

• Which schools are your child’s peers attending?

Felicity Tonkinson, Educational Psychologist

Homework –  a powerful tool to monitor maths and science performance. 

Homework can be used as a catalyst for discussion on what happened at school. It lets parents know what their children are learning, and provides an opportunity for parents to liase with teachers about their concerns.

Homework helps parents identify which subjects their children enjoy and are good at, in which subjects they need encouragement and more effort and which subjects they battle with.

Mathematics and Physical Science tend to pose problems for many children. Being involved in your child’s homework will reveal whether more teacher attention or extra tuition is required. Or, on the flip side, whether support to keep achieving in them is required.

How can parents become more involved in their children’s learning process?

• Support the school’s requests and suggestions related to homework. Check and sign completed homework

• Attend all teacher-parent meetings.

• Create a set place for homework to be done.

• Set a timeframe in which to complete it. Take the whole family into consideration in this planning, to ensure smooth running and minimal tension.

• Establish non-negotiable ground rules and expectations, such as no playing / free time until homework is completed to a set standard.

• Praise improvement or accomplishment.

• Be empathetic. Assist with strategies to deal with challenges.

Parents are the first point of call when it comes to identifying problem areas, and are part of the bigger conversation with their children’s teachers, tutors and schools.

Master Maths Head Office

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