parents

The one thing I should have considered more when I was in my 20s.

Chris and his kids.

By CHRIS DIMOPOULOS

When I was younger, my parents were fortunate that the area we lived in had good schools. I’m sure choosing a good school for me was simply a case of enrolling me in the nearest school and that was that.

Maybe it wasn’t that simple. But I can confirm it certainly isn’t that easy now.

This is a Brand Voices post brought to you by Australian Scholarships Group. All opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

Being in my mid 20’s when I moved out of home with my wife, buying a house in an area with a good school wasn’t high on our list of priorities. Come almost 10 years later, a father to a one-year-old daughter and four-year-old son, I now wish we’d had the foresight to bump it up the list.

It’s not until you start having children that you realise all the things you have to consider when it comes to parenting – from deciding on what types of nappies to use to what sort of family car you should buy.

One of the more challenging decisions for my wife and me has been choosing a good school for our children. We have heard some pretty scary stories from friends who have children in primary school – one friend told us that we should consider holding our son back a year in kinder because when they sent their daughter to Prep, the teacher wasn’t very good at nurturing their daughter’s skills. Another friend told us to consider schools that are 10 minutes further down the road that have smaller classrooms sizes, because their son had got lost amongst the other children at the school they had chosen.

It all started to become quite daunting.

All parents want the best for their children, and usually that involves wanting to give our kids the best education – my wife and I certainly didn’t want to skimp on choosing a good school for them. 

Choosing a good school brought up a lot of questions and factors to consider. Some things were easy – for example, for secondary school we both knew we wanted to send our children to state schools. We’d both been educated in the public school system, and had turned out alright (we think), so we were fine about that.

Other things were a bit harder. The schools in our area where we were living weren’t the greatest, so much so the government had closed them both down. As my wife is Catholic, she wanted to send our children to a Catholic primary school – this was fine with me, but it would mean we would have to move as there was no school in our area.

Drastic? Not really, this is what it is coming down to these days with zoning and waiting lists to contender with.

So we began to look – for both a new house and a school. Easy…! We wanted to live close to family and friends, with easy access to major roads and public transport, near shopping centres and entertainment areas, and of course, with good schools nearby – we were left with very, VERY few options. Needless to say it was a stressful time.

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My wife (and with a bit of help from me) did a whole heap of research regarding schooling. We learnt early on it wasn’t the primary school or high school we had to worry about. Kinder was the main hurdle. We needed to consider what kinder was the best to prepare our son for primary school, and also which kinder had a good reputation for students going onto the primary school we wanted. Luckily the secondary school in our area was good but this wasn’t the main concern for us, as we thought it was still another eight years when we needed to start considering that and a lot could change in that time. We’re also comfortable that for the best secondary education for our children, we may need to move home again.

After researching, house-hunting and school-hunting, we eventually settled on a location, home and school.

When we were in the process of choosing a good school we wanted quality and affordability. But for everyone the factors in making a decision are going to be different.

A couple of tips I’d suggest in choosing a good school would be:

• Speak to family and friends about their children and what they think is important for a primary school

• Find someone on the inside – we were lucky to have a friend who is a teacher and a family member who was a Principal

• Internet research is good a place to start – but it’s not the end. myschool.edu.au is a good tool, but pick up the phone and call the Principal – we found them to be more than willing to have a conversation

If you’re looking for some more information on how to go about choosing a good school the Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) has a great e-guide that has loads of tips.

ASG offers a proven and proactive way to help parents nurture and offset the cost of their children’s education. In almost 40 years, more than 509,000 children have been enrolled with ASG and more than $1.8 billion in education benefits have been returned to our Members and their children. ASG also offers a wide range of resources designed to help the many day-to-day challenges parents face in providing their children the best education possible. For more information visit their website or download your free copy of ASG’s e-guide: “Choosing a school with confidence.”

Chris Dimopoulos is Senior Campaign Manager at ASG.

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