View Full Version : All SF What to pay attention to on the school tours?

09-29-2010, 12:11 PM
About to kick off our barage of school tours in a few days and was hoping to get advice from other parents. What should we pay attention to on the tours? Should we think about how the younger siblings milght fit in as well? Any other tips on Dos and Donts?

10-05-2010, 03:56 PM
Here are my notes on things to keep in mind as you tour the school.

1. Research ahead of time.
Read the school's website and get as much info ahead of time as you can. Does the school's philopshy and culture mesh with what you want for your child? Read the staff/teacher bios online to get a sense of their experience and backgrounds. How much staff turnover is there at the school?

2. Look beyond kindergarten!
Even though you may be applying for kindergarten, think about what you want your child to become when she's 18 (I think Betsy Little and Paula Molligan said this in one of the school seminars). Kindergartens look warm and fuzzy for almost every school, but how do the 5th grade or 8th grade classes feel? Do you think your child will be challenged and thrive in that environment?

3. Things to focus on at the open house/tour (beyond the actual facilities)
- Does the school principal/director inspire confidence and demonstrate vision for the school? How accessible does she seem to be?
- What is the key pitch the school is making? Does it resonate with you?
- Does the staff effectively address questions or are they vague and evasive?
- What kinds of school work are displayed on the walls? Would your child enjoy such projects?
- How is the classroom environment configured - in circles, in rows or other ways? Do you feel it is conducive to learning? Or is it too chaotic and noisy?
- How do the teachers interact with the students? Are they effective in holding the students' attention? How creative are they in nurturing and fostering the children's curiosity? How do they handle conflicts that pop up?
- Are the kids excited and engaged by what they're learning? How well do they collaborate?
- Can you picture your child in this school (remember, not just in kindergarten but later years)?
- Do you see yourself fitting in and becoming an integral part of the school community?

If there are parent volunteers on the tours/events, be sure to take advantage of their availability and ask them about their experience.

10-06-2010, 01:21 PM
Recently heard Little & Molligan speak and these were their tips on how to evaluate a school:

* Do you see the mission statement in practice?
* Do they offer diferentiated learning?
* What criteria do they use for placing students in groups?
* What is faculty turn over, do they offer continuing ed for teachers?
* Do they practice the character development they preach in the classroom (problem solving, critical thinking, respecting teachers & peers)

Finally - they said the admissions interview is meant to be a conversation. That the admissions directors have no agenda and not to assume they have read your file before you walk in the door. They have lots of interviews to go through and really it's meant to just get to know eachother.