coffee break ver. 1.20

What characteristics of a school are you looking for?

Thanks, Jan, for this very timely question. My husband and I decided to send our little son to toddler school this school year. My reasons are stated in another post.

My main criteria for choosing ICBB (Innovative Center for Beginning Beginners) as my son's first school:

Their track record - Like most other moms, I asked around for good preschools within the area. There are actually a lot near us and sometimes I got a little confused when asking people, since different people will give different recommendations. I decided to try ICBB out when I was told that ICBB kids didn't have problems shifting to a more traditional system when they go to big school and actually thrive and perform very well when they do.

Their teachers - I had the pleasure to observe the teachers with the children, including my son (since I enrolled him for summer school). I love the way teachers relate to the students. They were very patient with the small children and they actually were able to make the kids listen to them. My son learned to line up for his turn at washing up, learned to get his own snack bag, learned to sit still at the table for his snacks. All without raising their voices a bit. These may be small things but I think they matter in the long run.

As for the more academic stuff, they teach children via storytelling, singing, art, playing. Even rest time, and snack time is an opportunity for learning. And the kids all seem to be having fun, but at the same time they are already learning.

My son's class is going to be consisting of only 8 students to 1 teacher. There is also 1 teacher aide to assist the teacher. The school assures me though, that if there is a particularly hard to handle student, they sometimes add another teacher.

My son -- He's happy! He learns! He now has friends :). More about that on this post.

Tuition fee - Let me first state that the tuition fee here is quite hefty. But when I compared them with other small schools in the area (and some other areas as well), it seems to be within the range and even seems to be at the lower end.
Although I am very willing to spend for a good quality education for my kid, I want something I can sustain. I do not want to send him to a school wherein I the tuition fee will be higher than what I can afford and which will have me going into debt.

Distance - Very near. This is always an advantage. My son does not have to have a big lead time when going to school so he does not have to wake up VERY early. It will be easier for me or my husband to drop him off at school and pick him up later. There is less fuel usage, which in turn translates to a lot of savings, especially in these times of high fuel prices. In times when school is suddenly called off, especially with weather changes, it would be easy for someone to go and pick him up.

Chinese lessons - This is really a bonus for other parents, but for me, I really want my son to have Chinese lessons since I'm of Chinese ancestry. I am planning to send my son to Chinese-Filipino big school later on so I do want him to have a head start already by then.

Location - It is inside an exclusive subdivision. It seems to be safer since not just anybody can go inside the village. I'm a bit paranoid about kidnapping incidents especially since my son really looks Chinese (you know kidnappers have a predilection for Chinese). Also, the road outside the school, since it's a village road, is not as busy as other streets, hence there are less incidences of accidents.

My criteria for his big school (later) is slightly different. I will probably tackle it at a later time, since big school is about 2 years away.

Additional plugging: Watch out for the 2nd edition of the Pinoy Parenting Blog Carnival, which tackles on the issues of school. I'm still working on the roundup.