What questions should I ask when looking into a private school?
Ask about any and every aspect of the school and your child's education that interests or concerns you. General questions about the school's founding philosophy, governance and years in operation, tuition, entrance requirements and application process are a good place to start.
You might also want to ask about teacher qualifications, curriculum, safety procedures, homework guidelines and expectations of parental involvement.
Write out a list, bring it with you to open houses and school visits, take notes and be prepared to keep adding to the list.
Most private and independent schools welcome the opportunity to provide you with a tour of their school. This step is one of the most important steps in choosing a school and should be conducted after you have visited private school expos, researched all possible schools and gone to open houses.
When arranging a school visit, it is best to ask for an individual tour on a typical school day. Group tours may keep you getting all your questions answered and may not allow you the time to experience the school's atmosphere. You need to be able to envision your child at that school, interacting with those teachers and socializing with the other students.
It will be very helpful if you bring a list of questions to ask on your tour. We have included suggested questions on the next page to help you get started. Along with getting the facts like school amenities or a breakdown of what exactly tuition covers, it is important to observe the school in action. You will want to observe whether the school is diverse enough for you and your child.
You'll also want to see children enthralled in their school work or play and see how they respond to their teachers.
The process of visiting schools should be shared with your child. It is important to see how your child fits with a prospective school and feels about going there. If there are future interviews or tests that your child will have to conduct to be accepted, the school visits allows prospective students to feel more comfortable by having already met teachers, administrators and other students.
After you have visited your short listed schools narrow down to two or three schools to go back and visit with your child. Also, arrange ahead of time a chance for your child to interact with students at the schools. After the tours, you and your child should record any impressions or thoughts of each school to review later when making a decision on the school to apply to.
To help in the process of evaluating the different schools, Our Kids developed this guide entitled "Choosing The Best School".