Updated: Oct 28, 2022
The pride and joy of parenthood are as unique to the parents as their children are diverse. Whilst we all happily agree that no two children are the same in terms of behaviour, interests and academic ability, parents oftentimes struggle with their role and responsibilities in selecting and accompanying their children on their educational journey.
Whilst the academic and admissions team of international schools in Hong Kong will readily support parents with guidance and advice, parents are encouraged to prepare themselves in order to make informed decisions about their child’s educational journey.
Selecting the right school for a child is often a compromise between many practical and commercial aspects. Before delving into more mundane questions, parents are best advised to sit together as a family and discuss their family values and how they are lived. They might debate to what extent they expect a school to share or further their family values and use this as an additional criterion when shortlisting suitable schools.
The reality of a modern classroom at an international school can sometimes be daunting to parents, who only have their own school experience to rely on as a yardstick. The sooner parents accept that their child’s educational journey will be different from their own, the quicker their decision becomes centred on actual educational needs and how to best select for them. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough in a cross-cultural context. Raising a family in an international and dynamic setting like Hong Kong also means developing resilient global citizens who will not shy away from leadership responsibilities but seek to contribute in their chosen career wherever they may decide to live in the future.
Parents who are clear about their own personal and professional pathways prepare their children’s journey earlier and better. They know their children’s needs well and tend to proactively engage with international schools’ admissions teams who welcome their numerous questions, which are frequently focused on identifying how good a fit the school will be for their child’s needs. When families later go on guided campus tours, they often seek to relate what they see (the classrooms, library, sports pitch…) with how a particular element of a curriculum might relate to their child’s education. These conversations are crucial for highlighting how a school’s values might connect with a very personal set of values that the family has.
All things considered, visiting and assessing schools represents a substantial effort for parents. We encourage all parents to explore the school’s website prior to the visit and use the personalized guided tours to clarify what the curriculum entails, and how values are lived at school. By doing so, parents will move quickly beyond the brand and prestige and start focusing on the structure and how their child’s natural talents and abilities will be furthered.
Undoubtedly, parents have an important choice to make; the role of any school’s admissions team is to provide as much information as is required to make an informed decision about the future school the child will attend. Through this process, various areas should be identified such as: How important is a school’s diversity for a child? What are his/her natural abilities? How independent a learner is the child already? How are communication and debate fostered at home?
A number of parents quite happily welcome the role and impact of enquiry and debate but expect the child to conform to a very traditional environment the minute they come home from school. Selecting a school for a child also means accepting that a child’s character is further honed through its experience of learning. Personal development is the natural side-effect of a child’s education. Curiosity, for instance, is a remarkable force that is typically fostered in international education. How parents deal with children’s questions at home is as important as helping them to find answers, precisely because it nurtures a lifelong love of learning. At the risk of stating the obvious, curiosity is not synonymous with a lack of discipline in a child! It is the reflection that a pupil is harnessing a self-driven and responsible approach to furthering his knowledge.
In conclusion, parents are best guided in their selection of a school by viewing the education of their child as a partnership with the school, rather than an extension of their own parenting efforts. By seeking alignment between their own vision and values and the framework a school provides, parents maximize the chances of success in their child’s educational journey.