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[The Net can help you locate the best school for your child]

   Daniel Rosario

If you are transferred to a new city, one of the first questions that poses itself is, ‘Where do I find a good school for my child.’ This is also a relevant question for those whose kids have just reached the school-going age. And as the academic year draws to a close, many others may consider changing their children’s schools.

To make a decision that would alter their kids’ lives, most parents will no longer have to rely on hearsay or advice from neighbours.

They can instead conduct an inventory on the Internet.

School Directory is a good place to begin. The site offers Web space for schools to put up information. Its database now has 631 academic institutes, and can be searched according to city, state or school name.

When you get the list of schools in your vicinity, you can click through to their Web sites and read up on the information provided, including details like history, facilities, admission policy, syllabus, extra-curricular activities, uniform, etc.

Checking out several such sites can help you realise which school suits your child best. You can compare one school’s facilities with another’s, or if your ward has a particular interest in sports, you can pick a school that lays a heavier emphasis on games.

Remember however, that School Directory only lists those that register with them. This means that there may be good schools in your area that aren’t featured.

Another site that offers a similar service is SchoolColleges.com. It claims to have a database of over 1000 schools in India and abroad, but offers relatively fewer details on each. Against each entry, the board to which it is affiliated is mentioned. You can search within states for day and night schools, and also for boarding schools.

In fact, if you are on the lookout for boarding schools, try logging into Good Schools of India, a guide to residential schools. They are listed alphabetically and according to state.

Each school provides details such as mission statement, and information on the campus, teaching staff, board affiliation, background, extra-curricular activities, fees, admission, scholarships and management.

If you have made your choice, you can fill up an admission form online and submit it. The site claims to forward them to the respective schools.

What makes a school good? This document offers several points that you must consider while evaluating an institute. Among them are the teacher-student ratio, qualifications and experience of teachers, facilities available to them, curriculum design, academic options available, extra-curricular activities, discipline, admission policy, past results, affiliations of the school, infrastructure, etc.

But finding a good school only completes half your task. You now have to determine whether you child is suited to that particular one. You need to reflect on your child’s traits, like his temperament, personality, abilities, talents and special needs.

This page gives you tips on how to go about it. If you know that your daughter is particularly gifted in music, its better to take pains to find a school that will hone her talent. Too few schools nowadays incorporate music lessons.

Those wondering which board is preferable can check out the Indian School Certificate Examinations (ICSE) Web site and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). You will find a list of institutes affiliated to the ICSE at Eklavya.org, while the CBSE site provides names of its affiliates, both in India and abroad.

Scholarships help motivate students towards achieving excellence. It pays to keep track of all scholarships offered by individual schools as well as the Department of Education (GOI).

In the meantime, the vacations get underway, and kids will have a lot of time on their hands. Enrolling them in hobby classes is a good idea.

IndiaChildren.com offers a searchable list of drawing, dance, music and computer classes for kids in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai.

That should keep them out of your hair until school time!

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