A visit serves to see the advantages, disadvantages, and educational methods of a school. To make the most of your visit, do the following.
How to plan an effective visit:
Prepare yourself and do your homework
Look up information about all the schools you are going to visit. Browse the descriptive profiles and write down all the questions you have. Talk to other parents or search the online edition or archives of the local newspaper and read articles about the school. Remember that all of this information is subjective – other parents’ personal experiences are useful to complete your research, but they cannot substitute for information from reliable sources.
Set a time for your visit
Call the school’s central phone number and ask to speak to the school secretary. Tell him that you are considering enrolling your child and would like to set up a time to visit, ask questions, and get used to the school. Ask if it’s possible to talk to the principal and some of the teachers during your visit. Before you do so make sure you get enough knowledge about assistant principal interview questions so when you want to ask questions you are well prepared.
Ask and observe
When you visit a school, remember to ask questions and observe the environment. You may not have time to ask all your questions, but you will most likely learn things that are important to you.
- Does this school have any particular views or educational ideas or values or mission that are particular to the school?
- What is the approach and methods used in this school for discipline and safety?
- How does this school encourage and monitor students’ progress in meeting requirements?
- What kind of library and other resources are available to students?
- How does this school use technology to support teaching and learning?
- How does this school teach the fine arts? Is there a choir, band, or orchestra? A play? Art classes?
- What extracurricular activities are there for students (sports, clubs, community service, competitions)?
- How do students get to school? Are there free buses?
- How does this school support students with academic, social, or emotional difficulties?
- How do you teach students who do not speak English?
- What professional development opportunities do teachers have? How do teachers collaborate to learn?
- What work has this school done recently? What are some of the biggest obstacles this school faces?
Things to watch:
- What do the classrooms look like, do the teachers reflect enthusiasm, and do the students seem cheerful? Are there displays of student work? Is the student work seen as grade-appropriate?
- What do you think of the teachers? Do they seem enthusiastic and knowledgeable? Do they ask questions to stimulate and engage the students?
- What do you think of the principal? Is he or she safe and trustworthy? Is he or she interested in communicating with students, teachers, and parents?
- How do students behave when moving from class to class or playing outside?
- How do they maintain the facilities? Are the bathrooms clean and well-supplied? Does the school seem safe and attractive?
Especially in primary schools
- What are some of the most important curriculum points in reading, math, science, and social studies?
- What are the criteria used to determine which classes students are assigned to?
- What system does the school have for notifying parents about important activities and information?
- Is there a parent-teacher association (PTA or PTO)? Is it an active association? What types of parent involvement are there at this school?
- Is there childcare before or after school?
Especially in middle schools
- How does this school guide and prepare students for the important academic decisions that will determine their choices in high school and beyond?
- Do you offer classes in other languages (French, Spanish, etc.)?
- If it is a large school, what efforts does the school make to try to personalize and provide a community atmosphere?
Especially in high schools
- Does this school have a particular focus, like the sciences or the humanities?
- Does this school have any “school-to-work” programs or specialized academies?
- What importance does the school place on preparing students for college?
- Does the school have a good selection of Advanced Placement classes?
- What percentage of students take the SAT? Where do they go after graduation? How many attend a four-year college?
- Does the school offer a variety of career planning options for students who do not plan to go to college?
- Are there advisors and counselors at the school to help students make important decisions about classes and post-graduation plans?
- What percentage of students who start in grade nine stay until graduation?
- Do teachers set high expectations and goals for all students?
- How do students get to school? Is there a parking lot? Are there buses?
- Is this school licensed and accredited?
Especially for charter schools
- When and for what reason was this school created?
- Who was awarded the charter, statute, or contract for the school? What is the group that created the school?
- How are the teachers at this school selected? Are the teachers certified? Do the teachers have many years of experience or are they new?
- Is this the permanent location for the school? Does the school plan to move to another location soon?