Decision Time

How to choose the right school for your child
Cowan House > How to Choose the Right School

How to Choose the Right School for Your Child

The choice of where to enrol your child at primary school is one of the most important decisions you, as a parent, will ever have to make.  The significance of a  junior school education of quality is so often overlooked under the misguided assumption that a child’s high school years are of greater importance. Primary school education is of primary importance as it is between the ages of 6 and 10 years that a child’s academic, emotional and social foundation is set for life!

Today, there is much pressure on parents to make the right choice of school, made even more difficult by the variety of choice in schools.  Making this decision is a process and there is no right or wrong way of doing so, as your child and family’s circumstances are unique.  It is a decision that will have an remarkable impact on the development of your child, so take the time to be sure both you and your child feel comfortable and confident in your choice.  Make the correct choice and your child will begin a journey of lifelong learning.  Talk about pressure!

While school forms a significant part of children’s lives, it’s not all of it.  Time together as a family in the morning, in the evening, during weekends as well as on holidays also shapes children.  Your choice of school, with values matching those of your family, will strengthen what you have already begun to teach and develop in your child.  We hope using the following guidelines will assist you in making the decision a little easier, but at the end of the day, trust your gut … you know what is best for your child.

Before visiting any schools or enrolling your child, consider the following:

  • Think about the environment that will work best for your child’s personality, strengths, needs and interests.
  • If you have other children, is it important that all your children go to the same school?
  • Is a co-ed or single sex school environment the most suitable for your child?
  • Do you need to consider boarding school?  If so: what is the school’s boarding routine; how will your child be nurtured (outside of the classroom); what communication channels are available for keeping in contact with your child; what activities does the school offer boarders over weekends?
  • How does the school’s culture and values match those of your family values and family life?  For example: what is the school’s policy on homework; how much emphasis is placed on achievement; is sport on weekend’s compulsory etc.
  • What size school is likely to best suit your child; small or large? How many children are there in each class; how many classes are there per grade; do classes have a Teacher’s Assistant?
  • What curriculum does the school follow and is it relevant to the future?
  • What is the school’s assessment policy?
  • Does the school have specialist teachers?
  • Does the school offer extension for children who need more challenging work?
  • Does the school offer a balanced education including the arts, drama, sports, music and innovation
  • What additional services does the school offer such as aftercare, transport, a nursing sister on duty, and meals?
  • What extra-curricular activities does the school offer to suit your child’s interests and what are the associated costs with these activities?
  • How connected are the teachers with pupils and how will they influence the development of your child? Pupils spend a significant amount of their day away from home with teachers.
  • Does the school day allow for child-friendly breaks from formal, desk-bound classroom time?
  • Is the school situated in a safe, community and traffic friendly area?
  • Which high schools does the school typically feed to and is there a cooperative association between the schools? 

Do not simply rely on the opinions of others or a website to tell you what a school is really like.  Make a point of visiting the schools you are considering: go into the classrooms; speak with the teachers, the pupils too; and meet with the Headmaster.  Once you have visited a school, ask yourself:

  • Did you feel welcome?
  • Were the teachers helpful and friendly?
  • Did the children seem happy and were they well-mannered?
  • What was the Headmaster’s philosophy about education?
  • Was the school the kind of place in which your child could, not only survive in, but thrive?

The number of days until the first day of Grade 1, 2022


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Cowan House

11 Dennis Shepstone Drive, Hilton, 3245, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

033 343 3261