As we look forward to spring, we are beginning to plan our Admissions Open Houses. East Woods School has Open Houses scheduled for March 6th and April 15th, and we look forward to hosting families for these visits.
What many parents may not realize is that schools are as interested in learning about them and their children as parents are concerned with shopping for schools. Through conversation and getting to know visitors, we are trying to sense whether or not each family would be a good match for the school community.
In the excitement of meeting people and touring a campus, it’s easy to lose focus on some core questions. For any parent looking to attend any Open House, whether at East Woods or elsewhere, it’s important to create either a mental or written checklist of questions you can be sure to ask during your visit. As educational professionals, we have some suggestions to help you narrow down your top choices. Here are some suggested questions written from an insider’s perspective on schools. Of course, your child is a unique individual with a set of specific needs, and some of your questions should reflect this.
- How would you describe the educational philosophy of the school?
- Where do the graduates go when they leave, and what do they say about their transition?
- What are the hours of the school day, and what does the school calendar look like?
- What transportation is available?
- What steps has the school taken to ensure student safety?
- Are there hidden fees not included in tuition/fee structure? Are field trips and food included or extra?
- How much faculty turnover has there been in the last 5 years?
- Can you share one or two markers of the school’s financial health?
- How is classroom management handled?
- What is the school’s expectation for student (and parent) behavior?
- Will I be urged or expected to volunteer? Will I be urged or expected to participate in fundraising drives and events, and what are these?
- How would I communicate with my child’s teacher?
- Is there a school nurse, and what are the nurse’s hours?
- What is the typical number of students in each section or class? (Student-teacher ratios given out by schools incorporate ALL teachers, including those teaching enrichment classes.)
- How does the school track and communicate student progress in academics?
- How does the school address gifted learners in each subject?
- How does the school support students needing intervention and strategies?
- May I speak to some of the teachers to get a sense of their passion for their subject and their warmth and friendliness?
- May I speak to some current parents about the school without staff present?
- How many hours of homework are typical per night per grade level?
- Does the school have a vision or a plan for the future? What is it?
- How does the school build and maintain a sense of community?
- What opportunities are there for children who have special interests in athletics, STEM, performing arts, public speaking, visual arts, or other areas?
If for any reason you have unasked questions later, you should feel completely comfortable e-mailing or calling the admissions office after the open house. It’s in everyone’s best interest for you to have all of the important information you need to make this big decision for your child’s school future.