Some of our clients solicit opinions from their 3 year olds. Others don’t think 16 year olds should have a voice. At what age should children choose their schools? And why?
This entry was posted on Thursday, April 10th, 2008 at 10:29 am and is filed under Education, Moving, Parenting, School, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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I think children should always have a say. They too can get a “feel” from the campus, what they have to offer and have an opinion of the other students. Of course, the thoughts of a 3 year old will not weigh as much as a 16 year old and the final decision should be the parents. The fact is, if you get your child’s opinion it is merely another factor in deciding which school is best for your family (they might not understand it’s academic merits or even what learning style is best for them). This also empowers them at a time when they often feel little control. As a parent, I would always ask!
Growing up in a generation when children’s opinions were never solicited, this question triggers memories from my youth and the feeling of frustration of not being ‘heard’. As a parent and an educator I feel it is important to ask the opinion of children, teens and young adults about their feelings about school, community and world issues. There is a fine balance, however, of how much weight should be given to the child’s feedback when making a decision about a school placement. I believe adults should also be careful of how a child is asked about their impression about a school or what he/she would like in a school and this depends on the age and experience of each child. Not only should a parent listen to the opinions of their child but they should also look for the nonverbal responses ( body language) before, during and after a school tour. Children often have a perspective that we as adults do not. That is why itis so helpful to go to visit a school with someone else as well as with your child if possible.
In all our moves across the world, we have never been able to take our 3 children with us when checking out a new city to consider moving to. In most cities outside the USA, where expats live, there is usually one school that is considered the best amongst the expat community. We have always looked at 2-3 schools in each city, but every single time found ourselves agreeing with the consensus.
Interestingly, when we considered repatriating back to the U.S (even though we finally did not end up doing so), we found ourselves faced with a big choice, and were glad to have taken the children (ages 14 to 8) along, as after spending half a day at each school we considered applying to, we found them to have a very clear idea of what they liked and did not like. Surprisingly, this was not apparent to them before the trip, even though we had discussed the schools we were considering with them in detail.
While we were debating and getting confused about the pros and cons of each school based on information overload, the children gave the highest priority to the percentage of international mix of children at the school! We had not given this aspect as much weight as the children; so we ended up scrambling at the last minute, and saw an International school with an excellent reputation that we all ended up liking the best.
Just shows how much we know as parents! Sometimes we lose sight of how our children want different things in life than what we want, based on how different our experiences are while growing up!
Children of all ages can be consulted. For the younger ones, the decision should be made by the adults. Remember though, as adults we are often impressed by facilities and resources. Young children want kind, thoughtful teachers and an inclusive environment with interesting lessons and opportunities for fresh air. I agree that global kids like international schools as the student body can relate to each other on that front immediately.
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