Admissions Offices today must inform, guide and even teach parents on what they should analyse when choosing a school.

Today, school admissions offices not only have to select good candidates for their school but also help parents understand the difficult process of selecting the right school for their children. To accomplish this goal, it is necessary to better understand a family’s dynamics: their dreams, ambitions, interactions, needs, and parenting style. First, it is important for parents to understand their children. Secondly, it is essential they understand the school’s curriculum and methodologies. Finally, it is of paramount consequence that the school stresses the importance of having parents actively involved in their child’s education.

All children have unique personalities, depending on a number of factors. Some may be more comfortable in social scenarios while others may be more introverted. Whatever the differences, it is important to recognize that all children have an idiosyncratic set of characteristics that define them and to use those as the blueprint for choosing a school. It is not only pivotal for parents to have a clear picture of the type of school they envision for their children, but also to search for an environment that suits the aforementioned set of unique character traits embedded within every child and supports their healthy growth, both academically and socially.

Thanks to the great strides in neuroscience in the last decade or so, new research has uncovered that there are many previously unknown learning differences and that children benefit from personalized learning methods. Because of these advancements, a variety of schools have popped up preaching a sundry of methodologies, priorities, programs and processes to help each child develop along their academic, social, and emotional strengths.

As it relates to school admissions, it is crucial to not only recognize that all children have diverse personality traits but also understand that today’s families are more diverse than past generations and are working more hours, thus spending less time with their children than ever before. This shift in family dynamics is an added pressure when choosing schools because school selection is the ultimate team effort between parents, teachers, and students. Parents who are not in touch with their children’s needs therefore can prove to be a hindrance to the symbiotic process of school selection, leading to unhappy and unsuccessful children who wind up in the wrong school environment.

When we are in contact with families that are searching for the right school, we stress the importance of thoroughly understanding each family’s dynamic, aspirations for their children, and the student’s own interests, desires, and learning style.

Not every school is for every student, so how can parents find the right school for their children?

We believe parents must understand their children’s strengths and weaknesses when they begin the process of choosing a school. Some children are perhaps better suited for technical schools whose strengths reside in mathematics and science while others may benefit from schools whose focus is on reading, history and the arts. It is essential for parents to have an honest view of their child to get a clear understanding on where their child sits on this academic and social spectrum to help place them into the appropriate school.

Apart from the child’s academics, it is also imperative for parents to gauge their social and emotional tendencies. To do so, parents could ask their children a variety of questions. Would they feel more comfortable in a small or large school? Do they suffer from anxiety in large social gatherings? Is the child more active and playful or is he/she calmer and more passive? Attending school is far more than just showing up to class and getting good grades; it is a holistic experience encompassing a variety of unique social settings which should be tailored to a child’s individual personality. By using their own knowledge of their children, along with some really clear and guided questions, parents can get the answers they need.

Ultimately, school selection is a comprehensive experience that requires a parent’s clear understanding of their child from an academic, social, and emotional point of view. Apart from having honest conversations, parents must dedicate time and effort with their children in a variety of different activities: athletic outings like playing different sports, a variety of board games, musical instruments, singing, acting, and any activities that challenge the child creatively. Though some of these activities may seem tedious, the process is paramount to ensure a child’s success.

To further emphasize the importance of parental involvement in a child’s life when choosing a school, a recent study posits that 65% of children’s personality development is in the 0-6 year age range. This statistic reinforces the notion that a family must play an active role in gauging and moulding a child’s personality from early on in their life. And, although essential in a child’s first years, parental involvement in developing their children’s personality is a never ending process. Different studies support the relevance of parent style especially in aspects of a child’s self regulation, competence, school grades, and achievement. This shows the importance for parents in the process of choosing a school to take into consideration the possibility of being involved, feeling comfortable with school policies and methodologies, and open to value, respect, and compromise with the school and its teachers.

In conclusion, selecting a school and being part of the admissions process is a multi approach effort, in which parents should commit not only to know their child but also to know the school, themselves, and to be permanently involved in their educational process. For admissions offices, it is imperative to help parents understand this multifaceted process, and consider the list of school styles, methodologies, and policies out there.

About Claudia Ferrufino

Claudia Ferrufino is Executive Director at Knightsbridge Schools International.

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