Choosing the right school

Choosing the right school for your child and other parenting headaches

I grew up in (what our brown people lovingly refer to as) the hood, in Port Elizabeth. You know… the type of suburb where all the kids in the neighborhood would play with each other, in the street, literally, because we didn’t have big yards or grassy side walks. It was a time of unsolicited nicknames (because we all knew a “China” or “Blou” or “Koppe”) and anyone’s parent was allowed to give you a group spanking if you misbehaved.

Back then, the unspoken rule was that when your time for schooling came, you would attend one of the public schools in the area. I mean, my parents probably knew exactly which primary school and high school I would attend before I hit five years old. There were only so many to choose from in our neighborhood.

Sure, some of our more fancier friends were carted to and from the “white areas”, attending posh schools with exorbitant school fees that our parents could not afford. They wore blazers and hats and sometimes spoke in accents and had derby days and cool extra mural activities.

The rest of us would walk to and from our public school (mostly in groups), stopping to buy 20 cent packets of “samoosa leaves”, “bompies” and “wind chips” along the way. We probably didn’t have the same opportunities as our fancier friends but I must say, my years at public school was pretty legit. I made great friends, had excellent teachers, participated in all the activities (seriously… ALL) and even entered my high school’s beauty pageant (no jokes). I would say that I had a well-rounded schooling experience.

This week, while Hubstopher and I were chatting about finding the right school for our little girl, all of these thoughts popped into my head, you guys. I mean, we want to give our kids the best life possible.

We want them to have the best birthday parties, and get them the best equipment for that hobby that they love. We want them to make really good friends who will stick with them through the bad stuff. We want our kids to find the job of their dreams and hey, eventually meet the one who will want to make them happy for life.

And, as we were chatting about all of this, I realized that schooling plays a big role in how it all turns out. I want my kids to have the same amazing experiences I had, when I was at school. And hey, I’m not naive, I know that we can’t control everything and that a lot of it depends on the child’s attitude. And anyways, sometimes you have a really stinky schooling experience, but still end up with a great life. I know. But still.

If the little bit that I can do includes finding the right school for her, then I will darn well make sure I do the best job doing so.

And so the investigation starts, as I hop from one school website to another, trying to find the school that will fit our needs. Things that come into play are:

1. Location – Is the school in close vicinity to our jobs or home? What will transportation needs be like?

2. Aftercare facility – Are there aftercare facilities close by, that won’t cost, you know, the same price as your mortgage per month.

3. Affordability – This is a big one. I often talk about how school fees x 4 is the mood kill in our marriage. Okay, that’s me being dramatic. But seriously guys, if we’re wanting to add one more kid to the mix, we need to consider how much we’re willing to spend on school fees and aftercare fees. Also, some schools have really unnecessary extra expenses that I just can do without, thanks.

4. Extra-murals – My girl child is going to be a total replica of me… I can feel it! Kyle isn’t really one for extra murals, but this girl of mine will probably do as much as possible, and I love that! So we’re also looking for a school that is rich in extra-murals, artsy and cultural activities.

5. Values and school culture– Since we are Christian, our first prize would be a school with strong Christian values and beliefs.

6. Academics – Besides for having great teachers, the ideal school will also have a lot of support structures in place. Class size is also important and would play a big role in whether we sign up or not.

7. The fluffy stuff – Other little things that I would look out for is to find out which school her friends are going to. I mean, it wouldn’t entirely change my mind, but it is an important factor, in my opinion. I love chatting to other moms, with kids in grade 1, to find out what their experience has been like at the school that their kid attends.

We’ve narrowed it down to 3 schools and will be applying to all of them. But boy, has it been a trip! I’m telling you guys, parenting is a headache. The best kind! I mean, if you consider the fact that your decisions will kinda impact the type of grown up your child becomes, suddenly choosing a school is more than just a “which one is more popular” and “which one is more impressive” game. Right?

Anyways, after all of that monologue-ing, I would like to hear from you guys. What type of factors did you consider, when you were choosing a primary school for your little one?  Share your advice in the comments section below.


  • An Ordinary Gal

    Our public school days….what a trip. I’m now wondering, did that aunty wash her hands when she was making the bompies and packing the wind chips?????? The OCD Simone of 2019 is shaking her head at ‘eat anything Simone’ of the 80’s and 90’s…

    We bought a house to be closer, to better our chances of getting my eldest into the school of our choice. We had 3 choices, but I’m forgetful and only applied to one…LMAO! Thankfully we got in at our school of choice 🙂

  • Liscka

    Was my thoughts exactly when I started looking for a school for my daughter. She is quite bright, so i opted for a school thats academic standards were higher than the others, after much research and of course a family filled with educators advise. Yes the school i opted for was diverse and also had boys (gasp) I was a all girl schooler and didnt quite adjust well to boys in the same class in high school so really didn’t want her to go through that. Although she is the total opposite of me and her dad extra curriculum wise, i chose a school suited for her dreams and its not even one of the “top or popular” schools. But anyhow i found what i was looking for, i hooe you do toi. Its a really tough decision.

  • FranklyMandy

    Hoe lis ek nou vir wind chips ! Lol !! Only was in public school for 2 years – after that I was the quota kid in 1993 (scary stuff) haha !!!
    Nostalgia played a big part for me … so we went with my Alma Mater. Still a good school ..but I think that I’d totally send my child to private school if I could afford to …. (the ex-model C schools of back in the day are now public schools anyhows)

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