One of the key components of a successful Aliyah for a family is a child’s success in their new school. While adjustments will need to be made as the child settles in, finding out about the school prior to Aliyah will make the acclimation process easier. We strongly recommend that parents make an effort to visit their child’s potential school, to meet with the administration and to establish a working relationship with them, before the family arrives on Aliyah.
The following is a suggested list of questions to ask when meeting the school staff:
- Does this school meet my child’s educational needs?
- Does the school provide support for children with learning, emotional and/or behavioural disabilities?
- What is the percentage of Olim Chadashim (new immigrants) in the school and from which countries have they originated?
- What are the school’s academic expectations for my child during his/her first year?
- What type of Oleh support is offered in the school? (e.g. Ulpan, a buddy system, etc.)
- What type of support is offered for parents? (e.g. does one of the administrative staff meet with the Oleh parent body, to help them understand classroom and social dynamics?)
- What is the physical layout of the school? What types of classroom and extra-curricular facilities are available for the students? Does the school encourage parent involvement? If so, who is the parent contact person?
- What are the school’s goals for their students?
- In an elementary school: What type of high schools do kids attend after graduating?
- In a high school: What types of post high school programs are encouraged?
- Does the high school offer a full Bagrut (matriculation) program or does it only offer some of the requirements for the Bagrut certificate?
- What, if any, youth groups are encouraged in the school?
- Is there a uniform?
- In religious schools, does the dress code need to be followed outside of school hours? Are parents expected to keep to a specific dress code as well?
- What types of co- or extra-curricular activities are offered?
- What is the daily schedule?
- Is there tracking for classes such as Math, English, and Gemarah?
- What is the average number of students per class?
- What is the school’s tuition?
- Are scholarships available?
Remember: Aliyah is a process. As with all milestones in life, children progress at their own rate. Encouragement and empathy are necessary supports that the child will require from both the home and the school. Select a school that will be sensitive to the needs of your Oleh child.