It’s spring! Time for warmer weather, longer days, lighter clothes… and school research! Although that may not have been what you were thinking, spring is actually a great time to work on your school list so you can hit the ground running when applications open in the fall. Many schools offer spring open houses, and these events are a great opportunity for you to get a feel for each school and to ultimately narrow your school list.
Things to notice
Each school has a different feel based on its students, its faculty, and its facilities. A campus school with many buildings and vast outdoor spaces will certainly feel different than a single 8-story building or several combined brownstones. Notice how each school utilizes their space. Look for dedicated science and/or makers labs, for outdoor play areas, and for flexible classroom space so children can work in groups or independently. Watch facial expressions and see if kids are engaged and happy, and if teachers are responsive to their students. Look at the walls to see if children are encouraged to explore, write, and create in their own voices. And simply listen: do you hear laughter and joy and love for learning? That is where your child’s educational journey should begin.
Some questions to ask
There are many things you can find out from schools’ websites. Use these open houses as an opportunity to move beyond the website and to really understand what your child’s lived experience would be at each particular school. Ask what a typical day in the life of a kindergartener looks like. Find out how often they have unrestricted, active play. Inquire about how and at what age technology is incorporated into the curriculum. Pose a question about extended day and extra-curricular activities. And don’t forget about your involvement: ask how parents are welcomed into the kindergarten classroom.
Make an impression
Every interaction with a school is a chance to make an impression. When it’s virtual, keep your camera on. When it’s in person, smile, be polite, and dress appropriately. Whether interacting with an admissions representative, a teacher, or a parent, remember that information about you might filter back to your child’s admission file.
With so many wonderful school options, you will most likely attend many open houses and the schools may start to blur, so make sure to take notes after each visit. Jot down the things you liked, the feel of the school, and the questions you still have. Take note of what each school emphasizes with regard to both academics and social-emotional development. These notes will help you finalize your school list, and also make your interviews more meaningful.
Most importantly, ask yourself if your child will thrive in that school. If it’s a definite yes, put that school on your list!
These are just some of the ways to make the most of your school visits. Interested in learning more? Call us at The Admissions Plan to find out how we can help you navigate the private school process.