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5-Step-Guide-to-Choosing-A-School

5 Step Guide to Choosing A School

Finding the right school for your kids is one of the most important choices a parent can make.

After all, these are the people who will be minding your kids for free for over 10 years! So treat them with respect. Our resident Dad, Pat Fitzpatrick, goes through the do's and don'ts of finding a school that's just right for your kids. (He’s got his tongue firmly in his cheek, in case you’re wondering!)

1. How soon is too soon?

When should you put your child’s name down for a school? To answer this, you need to understand Cambrils Envy. This is the feeling parents get during February every year when they try to book Cambrils camping park near Barcelona and discover it is booked out. We’ve all been there. Likewise, we’ve all had to listen to friends who booked it the previous October because they didn’t want to miss out. These people are everywhere. They also put their kids down for schools before they are even born, usually when Mom starts to ovulate. The point is, it’s never too soon. If you haven’t had a child yet but are going out on a promising date tomorrow with a guy who might be the one, here is my advice. Start ringing around some schools. And wear that purple scarf on the date, the colour really suits you.

2. Religion

A word of warning on Educate Together schools. The parents are expected to take a very active role in fund-raising and running the school. This is obviously a disaster for anyone who is hoping to drop their kids off to school in the morning and pick them up when they are 18. (Hello you!) That’s why a lot of parents sent their kids to a Catholic school. I’d like to say you shouldn’t feel guilty about this. But telling a Catholic to stop feeling guilty is like telling a crocodile to stop eating fish. Obviously, as a Mom, you want to keep sight of the real meaning of First Holy Communion. An opportunity to put on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding levels of false tan and drink prosecco in the afternoon. Way-hey!! Some people send their kids to a Catholic school but don’t enrol them for communion. Here’s the rule of thumb. A seven-year-old boy won’t notice the other boys in his class are preparing for communion as long as you buy him a bike. Tell a seven-year-old girl she is not allowed to wear a wedding dress and act like a princess for a day, and she will join the nuns to spite you. So you have been warned.

3. Gaelscoil

Always a popular option. Particularly with Irish Dads who fancy any excuse to watch the weather on TG4. Féach ar an cailín álainn, says he, before mysteriously disappearing to do a job in the shed when it comes to helping the kids with their homework, as Gaeilge. Here’s the thing you mightn’t realise about the Gaelscoil. They speak Irish there. All the time! That doesn’t just mean your kids will end up showing you how to do their homework. It also means they will be able to talk to each other and you won’t have a clue what is going on. Basically you will have equipped your kids with a secret coded language to plot their way around your every move. Lámha suas anyone who thinks that’s a good idea.

4. The Drive By

Obviously you’re not a snob. But that won’t stop you driving by a school at 3pm to do the Sportswear Test on the waiting parents. Gym gear on a slim lady means the school is popular with nice responsible middle-class parents like yourself. Tracksuit on a pudgy man means the exact opposite and there goes that school off the list. You’ll need to come up with a decent excuse for taking that school off the list, because after all, you’re not a snob. A great one to tell your friends is that the traffic in the area around school drop times is awful. The beauty of this is that it is always true. That’s because of the parents like you, driving by at 5 kmph to perform the Sportswear Test. They’re a bloody menace.

5. Traffic

You should know that school selection means different things to Moms and Dads. Mom is mainly interested in student-teacher ratios, extra-curricular activities and feeder potential for secondary schools. Dad is more interested in how he might drive there. He put the school into his satnav and it came back with a route which is fine for someone who lacks Dad’s incredible knowledge of traffic dynamics in the local area. In fairness, Google Maps wasn’t to know that the milk delivery van is often parked outside the Centra at 8:13 am, which can cause mayhem for miles around. Dad has discussed this with his best friend Larry, who was quick to praise Dad for his excellent insight. Both Dad and Larry agree that it would be crazy to send the child to that school. Unless the milk delivery guy changes schedule and then it’s everyone back to the drawing board.

 

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About the Author

Pat Fitzpatrick lives in Cork city with his wife and two small kids. He gave up a decent job in I.T. in 2008 to head for the lucrative world of writing. So don't hire him as a life coach, investment advisor or anything to do with your career. His Sunday Independent newspaper columns have been entertaining Irish people through some tough times. Pat is a regular on the on the RTE Today show with Maura Derrane and Daithí O’Sé and pops up frequently on radio shows such as the Right Hook. All of this is a bit too much like hard work, so he has started writing novels which will hopefully fund an early retirement to a hammock in the back garden. His first novel, Keep Away from those Ferraris, is available online and in shops outlined here http://www.patfitzpatrick.ie/novels/. Pat’s kids are both under two, so if you don’t mind, he is now going for a quick lie down.

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