Choosing the Right School for Your Child | Tips from CIS Parents
Would you like to send your child to an international school in China? This begs a couple of very valid questions – what makes a school international and what should you be looking out for when choosing one? Here's what we’ve gathered from speaking to fellow parents here at CIS, who chose our school based on these very reasons.
Transferability of Students’ Education and Curriculum
You must sure that the program of study is right for you for when you go back home i.e. transferable. It is very easy to get taken in by beautiful buildings, good marketing spiels, university enrolment counselling and persuasive promises of guaranteed admission to Ivy League schools, but one needs to look beyond that and ask yourself these important questions: is this curriculum accepted back in my home country or my next destination(s)? Does this curriculum allow my child to seamlessly transition based on his/her previous educational background? Is the curriculum equipping my child with transdisciplinary and co-curricular skills that can be used regardless of where they go after? Curriculums are often jargon heavy, so it is wise to brush up on your knowledge before you visit.
Apart from the world-recognized Alberta Curriculum, CIS has also become an IB PYP candidate school
The 3 M’s: Multinational, Multilingual, Multicultural
We live in a world that transcends boundaries, so it’s worth ensuring that a school can instill the ‘3 M’s’ in them. In fact, one can sum it up as international mindedness. Schools should teach children to respect their own language/s and embrace additional one/s, to practice multiculturalism and diversity whilst still appreciating the culture and environment that they thrive in, and to always find ways and strategies to impact their local and wider communities through their intentions and actions. Look for evidence that displays these vital skills so it builds global citizenship.
Visit. And Visit Again
Make visits to a number of schools, and not just on open days. Remember this mantra: every day at school should be an open day.
When visiting the campus, ask to observe teachers teaching in class/es (and not just in your child’s entry level) so you can get a feel for children are treated across the board. Are children being differentiated? Is the management team confident in their staff and students to allow you to speak to them independently? How do the teachers speak about and to their students? What extras are being offered, such as after-school clubs, sports or music? You don't have to be a seasoned educational expert to get a good sense of what is — or isn't — happening on the campus when you visit. Be prepared with your questions (a checklist helps) and don’t be afraid to seek help from the parental grapevine as it is usually remarkably useful. And just when you think you know it all and are ready to decide, go back again for another visit to reconfirm your choice.
Accreditations, Affiliations and Memberships
When it comes to accreditations and affiliations, do you know what those signs or letters signify? Ask for explanations when you visit, as these are noteworthy stamps show parents that a school has met and is still meeting and maintaining a high level of globally-recognized standards set by an independent accrediting agency. A feather in a (school’s) cap is membership. For example, many schools in China are members of the Association of China and Mongolia International Schools (ACAMIS), giving students as well as teachers access to cultural, enrichment, sporting and development activities.
Yes, indeed. The most important criteria of all is what you feel when you enter a school. It’s an innate knowing, one that cannot be explained, but only felt. You must feel genuinely welcomed and respected and feel that this is where you child will truly learn, thrive and develop. At the end of the day, when you know yourself and your child’s need well, what people say about a school or what the school is named should not even matter. Trust yourself and your own gut instinct to make the right decision when it comes to choosing a school for YOUR child.