For many parents, their first experience with choosing a school comes only upon making Aliyah. They frequently do not have a choice of schools in North America or the U.K. When they make Aliyah, parents find themselves, often for the very first time, needing to consider their own educational philosophy and religious outlook when choosing a school for their child.
It is imperative to be honest with yourself about what features are important to you for they will continue and should continue to play a primary role when you make Aliyah.
Maintaining continuity and consistency with the current values of your home will enable your children and your entire family to make a healthy adjustment to life in Israel.
Here are some key factors that will help you to clarify what is important to you and your family:
Child’s characteristics. Think about your child’s personality, learning style, and any special needs and decide what type of structure is most suitable for that child.
School philosophy and atmosphere. Ask about the educational and Jewish values that guide the school’s program and teaching approaches. Note how the staff interacts with the students.
Staff. Ask about the background and qualifications of the teachers and what specialties are represented in the staff.
Curriculum. Ask about the curriculum in both Judaic and secular studies. Find out if the school adheres to the standards of the Department of Education.
School population. Find out about whether community diversity is reflected in the student body or whether the school population is selective.
School facilities. View the facilities of the school such as the classrooms, bet midrash, science labs, outdoor areas and gym. Keep in mind that these facilities are likely to be quite different from what you are accustomed to in North America or the U.K.
Family and community involvement. Find out how and at what intervals the school communicates with the home and what are the school’s expectations of parental involvement.
Graduates. Find out what the school expects of its graduates and the types of programs that most students continue on to upon graduation. In looking at elementary schools, you will want to know which high schools most graduates attend. If you are looking at high schools, you may want to know whether the graduates serve in the army, perform national service, study at university, learn in yeshiva/seminary, etc.
Tuition costs. Consider your budget in choosing a school. Secular public schools generally cost between 600-1200 NIS per year for grades 1-12. Religious public and semi-private schools range from 1000-3,000 NIS per year for elementary school and 4,000-15,000 NIS per year for high school. Any school that offers extra hours, smaller classes and/or specialized programs will have higher tuition fees. Note that a significant percent of Olim send their kids to semi-private schools, where tuition is higher.