choosing a school

What is important when choosing your child’s first school? 

Some parents have numerous options for where to send their child to school.  So, when looking at potential school choices, what should you be looking out for? 

What is important when choosing child’s first school? 

Firstly, be mindful of what your child is being offered.  Look at the experiences they are likely to have and the approaches to learning that are being embraced – all of which may be somewhat different to your own memories. 

The traditional school classroom has more in common with industrial manufacturing that it does with anything advocated by developmental or educational researchers.  Within this model, children are viewed much like any other product to be manufactured, looking to the most efficient way of creating the desired, yet uniform product.   

Don’t be afraid to ask some tough questions 

If predetermined facts and skills (curriculum) are being used to inform structured lesson plans, presented according to a schedule – ask them why.  If tests are being continuously administered to assess the quality of the “learning”, with children passing quality assessments (QA) or not – ask them why.   

While this may work well in manufacturing, it does little to support the limitless capabilities and potential of your child.  Despite this, and regardless of the wall hangings – the format in many school classrooms has changed little over the last hundred years.  

Systematically downloading knowledge into the minds of developing children is counterproductive 

Can you observe the teaching that is taking place? 

Are unexpected answers being valued as teachable moments, rather than mistakes to be corrected and moved on from.   

Is whole-class teaching avoided most of the day, recognising that many will find the pace too fast or too slow, becoming quickly distracted as they disengage from work that is either too easy or hard.   

Your child is actively seeking to make sense of their world and understand the knowledge they are presented with 

The encouragement of free choice and play are important aspects of your child’s learning.  Play, especially in the early years should be the primary activity for your child, along with regular breaks away from the classroom to be physically active – a necessity for your growing, developing child.   

Project-based approaches, where children can work on activities of their choosing for a significant portion of the day gives a child the autonomy they need to access the experiences they require for deep level learning.   

Children cannot master skills while sitting quietly, following the moment-to-moment instructions of a teacher 

Imagine the last time you learnt a new skill – did you do it just by being told, or did you have a go, physically getting involved and exploring what you could do and perfecting ways in which you could do it?  

Children need activities that they are interested in, pitched at the correct level for their development and with the time and support they need to grasp a concept before moving on.  To do otherwise risks them falling behind in ways that will mean not fully understanding future lessons.  This then leads to even greater deficits as a vicious cycle establishes, affecting their achievements as well as their belief in themselves as a learner. 

This article is taken from our course: The Learning Child

Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods.  Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child.


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