Choosing the right school for children : 10 Tips for NRI parents

Though there are many reputed Indian schools in all Gulf countries, there are lot of factors a parent should consider while searching for the ideal school for children.
The school should not only offer quality education but should also ensure the all-round personality development by encouraging the children to participate actively in various extracurricular activities.
Needless to say, you would also like your child to be connected with his Indian roots.

So, there should be a strong emphasis on helping the child grow as an independent citizen who is intellectually proficient, smart, creative and is connected this Indian roots while respecting global culture.

Here are a few things to look for:

1. Consider the cost

Education is an expensive affair in the Middle East. However you should be able to fix a budget on how much you can afford to spend.
Ask yourself if you can afford the tuition fee if your child is accepted into a particular school. Remember that the school with highest fee may not be the best school.
For parents in Doha, here is a tabulated list to compare the fees for Indian schools.

2. Consider the location

How far is the school from where you live, and does that matter to you? Do you have to depend on the school transportation and if yes, consider the daily travel time & cost.

3. Involve your partner

When you start searching schools online, ensure that your spouse should be actively involved. Parenting is a combined responsibility. Besides, it will also give you an idea of the different aspects or criteria you should look for.
While a father can have a better idea of finding the school that can help in professional development of the child, the mother possesses the best knowledge about what to look for in the schools in order to ensure the child’s moral growth.

4. Talk to other parents

If you have shortlisted a school, you should talk to the parents of other Indian students to confirm the school’s claims. They have the direct experience with the school and do not have any commercial strings attached. So their review is much more important than school’s claim.
Needless to say, it isn’t recommendable to talk to them in the school compound. Ideally, you should meet them outside the school after the recess.

5. Ask specific questions

Instead of asking them general questions like “how is this school?” you should be more specific.
Ask them about the extracurricular activities, teaching methodology, parent’s meeting and the way the students are treated.

6. Check with more than one parent

Some parents are quite reluctant to be very open about school’s shortcomings. Others may be unwilling to talk much. So, the best practice is to check with several parents before forming the final picture.
Before even asking any specific question you should first know how long they have been sending their child to the school. Obviously, you wouldn’t like to have a detailed conversation with parents only to know later that their child has joined just a few weeks back.

7. Personal preferences

An ultramodern school that emphasizes on lot of extracurricular activities may seem to be the best school for your child.
However, if your child is shy then such schools might unintentionally hamper his growth by forcing him out of his comfort zone.
His inability to perform well in extracurricular activities due to shyness or the social skills of his peers can result in inferiority complex. Bullying is another problem that he may face in such schools.

8. How fair are the opportunities

The selection criteria also matter a lot. Does the school encourage all interested students to participate in various competitions and extracurricular activities or do they only want the ‘best’ ones?
More importantly, how do they help the students who are interested in certain activity but don’t possess the required skills? Ideally, there should be a certain roadmap for nurturing the talent of such students.

9. The cultural factor

There should be a strong emphasis on keeping the children connected to their Indian traditions.
Does the school celebrate Indian festivals like Diwali, Holi, Eid and Rakshabandhan? Is the celebration merely a formality or are children encouraged to celebrate them in a traditional way? Most importantly, do children really enjoy celebrating these festivals?

10. Language development

It is also important that the schools should encourage students to speak in Indian languages.
While English’s importance cannot be underestimated, you should also ensure that the children are not only taught subjects like Hindi but are actually encouraged to speak in that language.
Does school organize Hindi debate competition or are students encouraged to read classic Hindi literature? Are there any provisions for students speaking other Indian languages like Telugu, Tamil or Malayalam?
How are they kept connected to their language heritage? You should incur special efforts to find satisfactory answer to these questions before getting your child admitted in the school.

Related :

For parents in Dubai, a good start for choosing a school is the Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). The body publishes yearly school inspection reports that provide a comprehensive review of the performance and standards of private schools in Dubai.
As the number of seats in schools are limited and demand is more, you should get in touch with schools early to secure your child’s place.
It is advisable to apply at a few schools of your choice few months before the next academic year begins.

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