If you have a child starting school next year you’re probably starting (or have already started) the process of choosing and enrolling them at a school. It is a big decision but what should you be looking for? How do you know which school is right for your child? Below are some helpful tips and things to consider when making your decision:

Practical considerations: Where is the school located? Is it within walking distance or do you need to drive? Is there adequate parking or public transport available? Many suburbs also now zone their schools which means your child may only be able to attend the school that they live closest to. If this is the case and you want to attend a school outside of your zone try contacting that school directly; some places will still accept a certain number of students from outside the zone or will take into account special circumstances. The cost of attending a school is also another practical consideration; the fees of public school vary greatly from that of private schools.

The school: Consider the size of the school, class sizes and its reputation within the local community. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend relying solely on other’s opinion it is always good to hear what other family’s experiences with the school have been.

What resources does the school have? For example do they have a well-stocked library, access to computers and technology, and well maintained playgrounds and classrooms?

Your child: Central to your decision should be your child’s needs. Consider your child’s personality and their interest; does the school cater to these? For example if your child is very active does the school offer a good sports program? If they love to get creative does the school offer a good art program? If your child has any additional needs you will need to ensure that the school can support these too.

You might also want to consider what school your child’s friends will be attending. Again, I wouldn’t recommend basing your decision solely on this but often having a familiar face or friend can make the transition to school easier.

Values and feelings: It is important that the school values align with your own family values. Are you made to feel welcome at the school? How does the school handle challenging behaviours and what is their policy on things like bullying and discipline? What type of involvement and communication do they expect from parents?

Last, but certainly not least, I would suggest taking a tour of the school or and making an appointment to discuss any questions that you may have. It is important for your child to attend these meetings because their feelings about the school should also be considered.

Are you currently deciding which school to enrol your child at? What other factors do you think are important to consider?

You might also like to read:

Eight vital skills children develop in early learning and care settings

Supporting your child’s transition to school

Prepped for Prep