Open day season: How to choose the best school for your child

Getting your child on to a waiting list for a school can start before that infant is even born.

Parenting expert Nikki Bush says we need to understand that schools have become businesses, with marketing to match.

There's cradle-go-grave marketing now, especially in the private school industry... Waiting lists start at a very young age... Not only that, they attract a registration fee and schools sit on that registration fee for years, earning interest.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert
A Bergville Primary School grade 1 learner on the first day of school in the Western Cape on 15 January 2020. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

School open day season has started and schools are putting their best foot forward to attract enrolments, she says.

There will be schools who are big into community service, who raise children with heart. There are schools who will pride themselves on their sporting achievements and ones who will maybe promote technology in the environment... A lot are using the Fourth Industrial Revolution as a hook...

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

So, amid all this, how to choose?

Bush says you have to "scratch beneath the surface" when looking at schools.

She lists some of the top "commandments" to keep in mind as a family:

- know your values (what values does the school stand for?)

- know your lifestyle

- know your budget (what can you consistently afford?)

Also be aware of the current discourse around education and how it is being re-shaped, says Bush.

The important thing is to find out the philosophy of learning in a school... Do they have a good understanding of how children learn?... You will have the new upstart schools who have this new thinking versus traditional schools, and monastic schools, and faith-based schools which are steeped in tradition.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

Once you have made a decision according to what you want for your child, build a good relationship with the institution and the teachers: "They are bringing up your children with you."

For more pointers on how to "shop" for a school, listen to the conversation below:


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