Last year, I attended the open house in 5 different private schools in Calgary. This was in preparation for the girls starting kindergarten in the fall of 2015. (Some schools in Calgary have up to 4 year wait lists hence my aggressive head-start).
After what has been an eye-opening 12+ months, I'd like to share some snippets of what I've learnt.
Define what you want your child(ren) to gain from the schooling system
Start with the future in mind. Define "what sort of 18 year old would I want my child to be?" and work your way backwards from that point. For me, I would like my girls to be 18 year old young women who are comfortable in their Christian faith, confident in their body image, able to interact with a diverse population of people and have a world of career/lifestyle options at their feet.
Drill it down to elementary school requirements
Now that you've defined what you want in +/-15 years time, drill down to what sort of school environment would lead to that outcome in today's terms. For me, it works out to something like this:
Christian faith: Either a faith-based school or a school system that doesn't stifle religious beliefs and expressions
Confident body image: A school that has a good physical education program, a well-maintained gym and a big outdoor sports field. This criteria puts the "X or ?" on a lot of inner-city schools. And yes, I correlate body-image to athleticism.
Social savvy that comes from an ability to relate to people from different backgrounds: I expect the school to provide an opportunity for my girls to build healthy relationships with people of different races, nationalities and economic backgrounds. All 3 are of equal importance to me
Multiple career/lifestyle options: I expect the elementary school to feed into a high school that has strengths in their academic program, sports program, technical skills programs, art programs and entrepreneurial programs. The elementary school itself must encourage creative thinking and not be stuck on traditional education
Sounds like a tall list right? To be honest, I don't expect any school to provide everything, but I hope to narrow down to the best options.
This is part 1 of the Choosing Our Future Elementary School series.
In Search of our future school series
Part 1: Defining your expectations
Part 2: Evaluating the schools that meet those expectations
Part 3: Building the final shortlist of elementary schools