Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I do not claim to be an expert on progressive education. In fact, I'm a product of traditional schools. I finished my undergraduate degree from a college that was founded in 1620, took up law (a course that required a lot of memorization) in a school that's celebrating its centennial year this 2011, and is trying to finish MBA in a Jesuit university.

But both of my daughters are studying in non-traditional, progressive, and yes, (as one of my colleagues tactlessly put it) unheard of schools.

Initially, my husband was bent on enrolling our daughters in an exclusive Catholic school for girls. His arguments are sound. This established school has a proven track record and better facilities, not  to mention the prestige that the school's "brand" brings. 

After several talks, I was able to convince him to at least have an open mind and consider the other options. The school was  in issue.  Our goal--to send our firstborn to an elementary school that will nurture her as an individual learner; help us instill in her the right values; encourage her to ask questions and dream--was not.

In our search for the right school for our daughter, we did the following:

Start the Search Early

This is very important. If your child will enter big school next school year, then I suggest you start the search as early as July of the current year. Why? Because some schools hold their entrance exams as early as October and you still need to collate all the application requirements. This will also give time for some tiger Moms out there to prepare their children for the entrance exam. :D

 Know the Various Options
Initially, we searched the internet for the various educational systems that we have here in the country. We are familiar with the traditional Catholic school system but we don't really know much about the non-traditional kind (there's an entire gamut--from progressive to Montessori, Waldorf, multiple intelligences).  These are some of the materials we found in the internet:

Montessori vs. Progressive (It talks of preschools but the philosophies underlying the Montessori and progressive systems are explained) 

*I did the internet search almost a year and a half ago and marked the sites as "favorites". Unfortunately, I erased most of them from my favorites after finally making our choice.

We were fortunate that the progressive preschool Fran was then enrolled in conducted an informal forum on the different educational philosophies. The school did not only invite experts who explained the differences in the pedagogical philosophies, it also invited parents with children enrolled in these various schools. These parents candidly shared their experiences, their reasons why they chose the school and the pros and cons of each type of system. 

Ask the Teachers' Advice

F has been with her progressive preschool since she was 3 years old. By the time she turned 6 (and we were then starting with our big school search), her teachers already knew her pretty well, her strengths and weaknesses, her abilities and capabilities. And so during our one-on-one parent-teacher meeting, I asked her teacher for her honest opinion on what's the best type of school for Fran. Since the teachers in her preschool have Master's degree in Family and Child Development from UP Diliman, I was confident that I'd be getting good advice. (Of course, it was expected that a progressive school is on the top of her teachers' list :D)

Make a Shortlist

After (1) getting as much information on the different pedagogical philosophies,  (2) an honest assessment of Fran's abilities and (3) bearing in mind our goal as parents, we narrowed down our options to two--the exclusive Catholic school and a progressive, non-traditional school.

Getting to Know the School and its Teachers

For some parents, distance and travel time are not major considerations in choosing their child's school. But I personally feel that if adults are stressed out by the maze that is EDSA, what more with a 7-year old child? With this limitation in mind, we had in our list 2 QC-based Catholic schools for girls and 1 progressive school.

Aside from checking the Mission-Vision statements, my daughter and I also did site visits. Since she'll be the one who will be staying in the school for a lengthy period of time, it's reasonable that she should like "the feel" of the place. In the process, I also observed the students. Do they look stressed out? Do they look happy? 

It will be good if the school will allow you to sit in during class. But if this is not possible, then check how the students outside the classroom interact with the teachers and other persons in authority. Do they look afraid? Or do they freely converse with their teachers?

Playing it Safe

My daughter took two entrance exams--one from a Catholic school and the other one from a progressive school. It's always good to have a back-up plan. (She passed the entrance exam of both schools.) 

In the end, we (my husband, F and I) chose a progressive school located in QC. So far, we have no regrets in making that decision. By now, I'm already used to answering questions like, "San 'yon?" whenever I talk about Fran's school. But then again, how many can say that they attended their children's school programs with Sharon, Kiko and KC, Cesar and Sunshine, Anthony Pangilinan and Maricel Laxa in the audience? :D

*Here's my post on our experiences in a progressive preschool.


  1. What school is this? Thanks! :-)

  2. Hi. Please send me an email so I can give to you the school's name in private. :)



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