Why changing my children’s schools made sense

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020 00:00 |
Sheila Oriare. Photo/PD/COURTESY

One of the best parts about heading back to school for children is seeing the friends they missed over the holidays. What if they had to move to a new school? SHEILA ORIARE tells us how she navigated this transition

As Sheila Oriare registered her children in a new school last week, their joy and excitement was palpable.

Dressed in new uniform, they walked around the school in anticipation of learning in the unfamiliar environment. 

“They could not contain their happiness when they saw a computer lab, a swimming pool, karate and music class.

I could tell from their faces they were eager to learn,” says the customer success manager at Cloud Productivity Solutions.

Oriare and her husband Edgar Otieno, a research consultant, arrived at the decision to change their children’s school after moving homes from Embakasi to Ruai, about 16 kilometres away.

Retaining the children in their previous school would mean they would have to wake up extremely early to navigate through city traffic to make it to school in time.

Oriare figured it was not worth the trouble. Besides, putting children through such intense stress would make them grumpy and trigger them to loathe school.

For her nine-year-old younger brother Cassidy, her eight-year-old daughter Sizani and five-year-old son Aggrey, now enrolled at a primary school in Ruai, the change has come with many positive experiences.

Oriare observes the school has strong inclination to the arts and emphasis on developing skills and character as per the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).

Sheila Oriare’s five-year-old son Aggrey (far left), daughter Sizani and nine-year-old brother Cassidy enrolled into a new school this year after they moved houses from Embakasi to Ruai. Oriare hopes the children will adjust well to their new school . Photo/PD/COURTESY

The children in Grade Three, Two and Pre Primary Two seem to be enjoying the extracurricular activities and consider it a good break from just reading.

“Unlike this new learning environment, the previous school had not fully embraced the CBC. There was more emphasis on reading and not skills,” she says.

Changing schools for a child entails making new friends, meeting different teachers and adjusting to a new environment.

While this kind of change may be unsettling and bring some level of uncertainty, Oriare notes that her children are more enthusiastic about the adjustment than scared. 

Personal decision 

“Sometime last year they had mentioned they wanted to change schools, saying they were bored.

Being in a new school seems like the change they were looking for, so they have embraced it well,” she adds.

Decisions on where a child goes to school are very personal and can be difficult to make.

Before settling for the current school, Oriare put several factors into consideration. She was keen on settling on a school that was closer home.

The school is only 10 minutes’ drive from home. This ensures the children do not have to wake up extremely early. They are picked by the bus at 7.30am and return home at 4pm.

This schedule, according to Oriare, gives them ample time to sleep, do their homework and play in the evening.

Unnecessary pressure

“In their previous school, they would be picked at 6.30am. I have seen schools where kids are picked even earlier. In my opinion, this is completely unwarranted.

I was deliberate about giving the children space to enjoy their childhood without too many unnecessary pressures,” she adds. 

It was also important for her to choose an affordable school. Even though the transition comes with extra costs, including new uniform and admission fees, Oriare is convinced the sacrifice is completely worthwhile.

She also had to think about what would work best for each child’s needs and interests.

“I want my children to be well-grounded both spiritually and academically and so far the schools I have enrolled them in have catered for that,” she says.

Oriare was also keen on switching to a school that has vibrantly embraced the CBC. Lastly, she wanted a school with good academic performance.

“The school performed very well in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) last year and that for me was a vote of confidence,” she says.

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