How do I choose a good primary school for my child?

The time comes for every parent when their little toddler will become a toddler at primary school. You naturally want your child to get a good start at a good primary school that preferably also matches your educational ideas. But how do you choose a good primary school for your child? In order to make a good comparison of various schools for your child, it is first useful to check which schools are actually possible. So just take a look at which schools are within a reasonable traveling distance from home. Especially in larger cities, you may be surprised how many schools are hidden in streets you would otherwise never visit. Naturally, this situation is completely different in a village, where there is sometimes only 1 school. Then look around you, maybe there is a school close to work so that you can make a comparison between different schools. By the way, if it is at all possible, it is nice to look for a school in the area because this way your child will have and maintain more contact with the neighboring children.

The quality of primary school:

It is fairly easy to find out via the Internet how a particular school scores in terms of education. On you can check how the education inspectorate assesses the schools you have chosen. However, it only gives a general idea. It will never be said that the school is good or bad and only some aspects of education are assessed and not all.

The results of the Cito test can also serve as an indicator of education, but do not be guided entirely by this. Because a certain school has children from a certain background who perform less on average than other schools, a school can achieve a low score, but this does not necessarily mean that the school does not have a great educational policy and that it is precisely with those children that a very achieved good results. This school can also mean a lot to a child with a different background.

Moreover, schools sometimes appear to train on old Cito tests in order to achieve a higher result on the test. There are even schools that exclude children from the Cito test who have already determined that they will progress to VMBO. This will also influence the outcome of the test, so do not be guided by this alone.

The type of primary school:

Nowadays there are many choices when it comes to type of education, Montesori, Jenaplan, Dalton, the free school and elkwijs. If you wish to choose one of these types of education, it is important to familiarize yourself with these systems in advance. It is then important to choose a type of school that matches what you consider important (ready knowledge or creative and social skills), your own way of raising children (strict or flexible) and of course your child (independent and therefore an individual approach or a slob who benefits from the structure of a classroom system)

Public or a special school

From the past there is a division between public and special schools. About one-third of all schools are public and two-thirds are special education. A public school falls under the responsibility of the municipal council and the education is not based on religious or philosophical beliefs. However, this does not mean that no attention is paid to religion, but it is not proclaimed from a specific background. Public schools may not refuse children based on religious beliefs.

Special schools (think of Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Islamic or Humanist schools, etc.) These schools may refuse students on the basis of religious beliefs, but now special schools also welcome children with other religious beliefs. At these schools, attention is paid to faith, usually from one’s own background, but nowadays there are also plenty of special schools that pay attention to other faiths and, for example, the holidays. If this is done correctly, and this depends entirely on the school itself and not on the religious beliefs, this can also be an enrichment for a child who comes from a family without a religious background. To find out how strict a school is in its religious beliefs, you will really have to take other tips into account. However, it is nonsense to write off every special school in advance because you have no religious beliefs yourself.

Size of the school

What is certain in any case is that the size of the school and the classes are important for your child. The smaller the school or class, the more individual attention your child will receive. The rest of the teachers at school will also be more likely to recognize and know your child, which can also contribute to the child’s education.

The teachers and the teaching method used

All education, in whatever form, stands or falls with the teacher. In itself it is not a disadvantage if your child has to deal with different teachers in a week. Every teacher has their own preferences for children and different teachers will give these preferences less space in the classroom. To find out what a school’s teaching team is like as a whole, you can have a chat with the school’s teachers. From this you can see what they think about education and children and whether they are open to criticism.

The teacher must offer the teaching material systematically and in small steps, tailor-made for your child as much as possible. Most new teaching methods are tailored to the latest pedagogical insights, which also makes it easier for the teacher to provide the material in the right way for all children. The schools where the classroom method is used and that use the new teaching methods now also use repetition material for children who need some repetition and enrichment material for children who are a bit ahead of their peers. So be sure to ask the school which teaching method they use and what options it offers. This is also described in detail in the school guide, so study it carefully.

However, the most practical tips are the following

  • Take a look inside a classroom on a normal day, what is the atmosphere and the way of teaching?
  • Go to the schoolyard. Here you can see what type of children attend the school, whether your child would fit in and what the atmosphere is like at the school.
  • A look at the schoolyard gives you the opportunity to have a chat with other parents. What do they think of the school?
  • How do you report to the parents? is that the same shape as the child? And how are the parent contacts organized? Only in response to the reports and otherwise incidentally? Regular speaking evenings? Does the teacher visit each child at home? How does one arrange homework?
  • What extracurricular activities does the school have? What about school trips, school camps and the like?
  • What about after-school care if you are a working parent? The fact whether the school has a so-called continuous schedule, where all children eat at school at lunchtime, can also be decisive in your decision for this school.
  • Do the toddlers immediately go to school all day long or do they have the opportunity to get used to it?
  • What does the school expect from parents? An often underestimated point, some schools require a lot of cooperation from parents. Can this also be combined with your other activities?

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