school

Choosing The Right School For Our Kids

With June fast approaching, most of us Pilipino parents are busy getting our kids and our pockets ready for another school year.  Actually, we only have less than 2 weeks, so it’s also possible that I’m one of the few parents who still haven’t finish with the preparation.  Well, at least I was able to complete the enrollment process today and bought all the books.  We were a little late in completing the needed requirements to get Ki’s scholarship grant from Hubby’s company that’s why I had to wait till today to actually enroll her.

Speaking of school, I was reading this article from Smart Parenting about the cost of education in the Philippines the other week and was surprised by the actual cost of going to some of the top schools here in the metro. Even without the scholarship grant, Ki’s tuition fee only cost a third of what was mentioned there. Phew!

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a school for your kids and we all have our own view on what we think is the best education for our kids.  In our case, money did play a big part in finding the right school for Ki and the Little Guy, but that didn’t make choosing any easier for us.  As limited as our budget is, we still want the best of what we can afford.  Here’s how we made our choice.

Nursery/Kinder/Preschool

Choosing a preschool for my kids was basically based on budget and location.  I was still work full-time when Ki started school, so we need a school that is easily accessible and minimal commute.  It also needs to be convenient for my parent, who are in-charge of picking up the kids after school.

I wasn’t too concern about the curriculum as long are my kids are comfortable and are able to get her much needed socialization with other kids.  Are you raising your eyebrows already?  I know that a lot of parents put so much effort in making sure that their kids start right, but in our case, I complement my kids’ schooling with home-base lessons (similar to a homeschooling setup) and only rely on preschool for the kids interaction/socialization with other kids.  This is also the reason why we choose a cheaper school rather than pay 40-60k, top notch preschools.  If you are looking for advice on how to choose the right preschool for your kids, then these articles from SmartParenting might me useful for you.

Primary school

I must admit, finding the right elementary school for our kids was a lot tougher compare to preschool.  If preschool is more on play than learning for us, grade 1 is the start of formal schooling. I need to consider more factors than just location and tuition fee.

Should we consider public school?

Public school was immediately out of the question.  Although it’s free or at least only cost just a few hundred pesos of miscellaneous fees, and the ones that are very close to our home are relatively good; the student population is just insane with teacher-students ratio of 1:50 to 1:70.  Statistics also shows a great decline in the quality of education provided by our public school system, so it was clear that that’s not going to be an option for us especially since we do have the resources to avail of a much better option.

Now, if we were living at Hubby’s hometown, then maybe a public school is not such a bad idea.  Public schools there are well manage and do provide good quality education.  This is based on Hubby’s personal experience.  He’s a product of his towns public elementary school and the fact that he was able to get accepted to some of the top science high schools in the country only means that that school is not lacking.

It would be nice if we can afford sending them to an international school…

If we were just considering quality education, international schools seems to be one of the best options.  But add up the cost factor and…faint!  Php 140k – 200k per year (aprrox. $3,300-$4,800)?  And that’s just for Grade 1-3.  The amount is almost double by the time she reaches Grade 6.  I know I shouldn’t be surprised; after all, majority of those who study in such schools are either from upper class families  or kids of well-paid expats and foreign diplomats.  Never mind!

Maybe, I should try homeschooling the kids?

homeschoolingHomeschooling is becoming popular here in the Philippines and I must admit that it was a very attractive approach to educating my kids.  My only concern though is I’m not sure if I’m capable enough to handle it on my own while still working.  Even if I did quit my job, I would still need to do freelance work from home.  That means I’ll be juggling work, home and homeschooling.

I do give my kids a few unstructured lessons at home that focus more on their interest.  Ki likes the arts, so we do basic drawing and painting lessons.  Both kids also love all things Math-related, so I’ve been giving them a more advance lesson on the subject.  Both kids are learning Grade 1 Math all summer.

I have to applaud the families who are able to do homeschooling, but like most experts says, “It’s not for everyone.”  And after careful consideration, is seems that in our family’s case (at least at the moment) homeschooling would be difficult.  If you think this is for your family and want to know more about homeschooling in the Philippines, then check out Nanay Notebook and Christian Homeschooler.  These Pinay moms shares great information on homeschooling based on their own personal experiences.

So we end up choosing a small, Catholic private school.

Yes, after a long research and careful consideration we ended up choosing to send Ki to my old school.  It’s a small Catholic private school about 5 minutes away from our home.  My sibling, cousins and a few of my niece and nephews are products of this school.  I actually studies there from preschool to highschool, so I’m very much aware of there system and how it has evolved over the years.

What made us decide to put the kids there?

  1. It’s a familiar place, so I’m confident enough to leave my kids there.  I know the system and the people that runs the school.  They are the ones that I’ve looked up to and fight with.  That gives me some ideas on what kind of environment my kids will be exposed to.
  2. It’s Catholic-based, so the kids gets to learn Christian Living as part of the curriculum.  Hubby and I are not very religious and we have our own unconventional way of practicing our faith (long story), but we do want our kids learn about Christian faith and practice them accordingly during their early years.
  3. It’s one of the cheapest private school in our area.  Private schools often range from Php 30K-200K (approx. $700 – $4,000) in price and lucky for us, this school is in the lower end of the spectrum.  The best part is, even if it’s cheap, the quality is still there.  They are, after all, run by a Catholic group that also runs some of top schools in the country.  They simple cater to the lower to middle class families.
  4. I turned out okay, didn’t I?  So maybe it’s not one of the top schools, but that school did help me get to one of the country’s top university.  Though my experience are not all good, it did help me become what I am today.

Middle School and High School

I still have 6 years before I have to worry about this, but I think our choices will definitely depend on what the kids would like to pursue  in college or what their inclination would be then.  The Little Guy is showing great interest in Math and Science, so it would be a good idea to get him in a science high school.  Ki likes arts, so a school with a good art program would be perfect for her.  At any rate, I don’t have to bother about it for now.

How about you? What did you consider when you were trying to find a school for your kids?

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Nanay Gin

Nanay Gin is a mom of 2, a loving yet crazy wife, wannabe writer, lazy crafter and deprived cook. After quitting her day job to take care of her kids, she now work for an SEO firm - managing websites content, monitoring social channels, and doing online research.