How this stay-at-home mum stays sane and has fun one day at a time.

Choosing the right school

Not in zone for Hogwarts? Bummer dude!

Not in zone for Hogwarts? Bummer dude!

This might sound silly coming from someone whose eldest child is not even two and a half, but today I’d like to talk about schools, specifically what makes a good one. This topic is quite big with my mummy friends at the moment, mainly because that big scary beast known as the ‘Auckland housing market’ is a factor and people are either first time house hunters or deciding whether to move into better school zones.

So what makes a good school? And would you move to get your kid into a better one? Do you look at deciles, ERO reports, reputations, recommendations from friends or none of the above?

I’ve always thought a good kid does well at any school and I wouldn’t be too judgemental about where I sent my kids. Then I had a couple of kids and like most things I ‘always thought,’ I suddenly changed my mind. How about you? What’s the plan, Stan? And if you already have school-aged children then please, for the love of God, share with us what you’ve learned since sending your darling angels to school.


3 Responses to “Choosing the right school”

  1. Meredith Street

    It’s so tricky! I think if you have the luxury of choice, it is valuable to spend time at each of the schools you are comparing and see which one feels right – we went to the school gala’s, community events and popped in for tours and a chat with the principal before deciding that the wee school walking distance from our house was the one for us. I’m so glad we made this decision now we’re a few months in to the school experience – after a bit of a rough start for Miss Dita with a fair bit of separation anxiety, we felt fully supported by all the teaching staff, including the principal, who spent a fair bit of time with her individually to work through the issues. Things I would look for in a school if I was to do it again would be:

    – Diversity! We love that our school gives our kids the opportunity to learn about many different cultures and nationalities, and there is a satellite class too so D is familiar with kids who have intellectual and physical challenges.
    – Class numbers – as low as possible, especially for the first year or so.
    – Education tailored to the individual child as much as possible – Dita’s teacher is already very familiar with her learning style, where she is at and where we need to support her at home. We have seen enormous change in her abilities, from refusing to sound words out or only wanting to guess at them, to reading her little reading books in their entirety all by herself.
    – Approachable – having teachers and staff that are easy to chat with and make themselves available to parents
    – Letting the littlies be littlies – Dita gets a small amount of homework each night, but it usually takes us less than 10 minutes to get it all done. Other schools locally send their 5 year olds home with up to an hour of homework = not something we wanted for our kids.
    – Sense of fun – wheelie days (scooters and skateboards can be taken to school to use at lunchtime), class performances, baking days, dance sessions in class, teaching outside in good weather…we want Dita to LOVE school, and yes, of course its important that she is learning, but all the better if that education can be infused with fun along the way!

    All in all, we feel very lucky we landed where we did and live so close to a little gem of a school…

  2. Cat Garraway

    We are four weeks in to our schooling experience with our daughter Lily so perhaps not quite ready to say if we have made the right decision or not! However, I think the best information that we got about the school was from other parents. I have a couple of colleagues who have children at the school and was able to get their take on how it was and the benefits and pitfalls of the school. It can be so hard because every child is different and what works for one may not for the other…. so I guess you need to have a good gut feel about the school and teachers as well.

  3. Helen Hughes

    We aren’t quite there yet but only another 8 months before my first “baby” will be heading off to school…gulp! Our decision has very much been influenced by recommendations from other parents. We are in zone for 2 schools and the one we have chosen has received great reviews from mums/dads whose children already go there (not so good reviews for the other one!). I am still feeling ridiculously nervous about it though. The pressure of being a parent!! Liam was only 2 and a half when we bought this house and I remember thinking that we didn’t need to take school zones into account when we were house hunting as school was so far in the future. Jeez how time flies!!!


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