When my daughter announced that she wanted to change schools because “there were too many boys in her class", we started a long journey to find a potential new school. It's been both painful and enlightening. If you are about to embark on a similar odyssey, here's a few dos and don'ts to consider first.
Do sense check you can’t resolve the issues your child has with their current school. A new school is not a magic wand. Given the boy to girl ratio in my daughter's class is higher than 2:1, its unlikely the school can resolve this issue without using surgery.
Don’t tell the parents of kids in the same class that you are looking at other schools. It’s like announcing that you’re leaving the party to go to a better one. Most parents are fiercely defensive about their education choices.
Oh, and on a school mum's night out, knowing the gender of most of the class, don't tell everyone that your daughter is fed up of the "boysplaining" that goes on. Or at least, don't expect to be invited again if you do.
Do attend as many open days as possible. It’s your chance to meet teachers and pupils and check out the facilities.
Don’t expect to get a true feel for life at school. No one invites the bullies or the bad teachers (yes, every school has them).
Don’t ask for advice from Facebook forums. You will get a deluge of negative responses from people whose kids don’t even go to those schools, plus that unhelpful and slightly smug person whose family speaks a gazillion languages and thinks you should put your monolingual child into the local system.
Don’t pick the school you like most. A prestigious name or qualification isn’t worth it if your child is headed for burnout by the age of 16. Be honest about what motivates your child, and what kind of person they are, and put them at the centre of the process. It’s their life after all.
Do think about the commute to school and the transport alternatives, unless you plan to be a chauffeur for the next seven years.
Don't fret that you have children in different school systems. Just start persuading the younger ones that they would be happier at a different school.
Don’t expect your child to know how to write a CV. What does an 11-year-old put on a CV anyway? I can use a Bunsen burner without setting light to the school? I hone up on my maths skills with Geometry Dash? I wish for extra homework every day (okay that’s going too far).
Do be honest on the application form. No teacher wants a class full of go-getting, award-winning geniuses. It would be hell. The need for a balanced classroom means some of the quiet kids who work hard but don’t get medals will probably get a place too. That said, stating "there are too many boys in my class" as the reason for applying to a school isn't really going to get you any brownie points.
Do help your child prepare for entrance tests or interviews. Just like the CV, most 11 -year-olds will have no idea what an interview is.
Don’t tutor them to death, unless you plan to employ an army of tutors throughout your child’s academic life. In which case, good luck with ever speaking to them again once they are over 18.
Keep your options open
Do remember that many international or European schools in Luxembourg have far more applicants than places. Unless you have some serious dirt on the school director, you won’t be assured a place. If you do have some serious dirt, make sure you include it in your application form, underlined and in bold.
Don’t swap notes with other parents whose kids are applying to the same school. It’s an unwritten rule that all parents think their child is the best at everything.
Do check your application was received, but don’t pester the administration staff for an answer. It’s a waiting game.
And finally, do remember that if you are like most parents, you just want your kids to be happy. There is no such thing as the best school, just the school that provides the best environment for your child to learn, be inspired and thrive.
Get the Luxembourg Times delivered to your inbox twice a day. Sign up for your free newsletters here.