Visiting schools is a critical part of choosing a school. Yes, you can get a pretty good idea of school programs and facilities from a web site. But remember that the school is presenting itself exactly as it wishes to be seen in a highly edited and sanitized manner.
Accordingly, you simply must see the school, inspect the facilities, meet some students and chat with the staff. After all, you are thinking about entrusting your precious child to these people. You must determine if they are a good fit for your child. Your child won't be just a number in a private school. Small class sizes and a low student to teacher ratio mean that she won't get lost in the shuffle. Consequently she needs to be in a setting which will nurture and bring out the best in her. Your practised eye can root out any potential problems. Use a Checklist for Comparing Schools
to keep track of your observations and answers to your questions.
Remember: a school doesn't shape just educational outcomes; it also strongly influences attitudes and critical thinking. The culture of a school has a lot to do with this. Visiting the school allows you to evaluate all these important aspects.
Many schools have open houses. These offer you a wonderful opportunity to visit the school, see classrooms, listen to the school's 'story' and meet admissions staff. How do you figure out which schools have open houses in your area? You can look on the school's web site. And, you can do a search on this site. Here's how:
Go to find private schools
. Choose your state and click on the link for open houses in that state. The number of open houses will vary according to the time of year and the type of school. If the school in which you are interested is not on the list produced by our search engine, then go to the school's web site and see when it is having an open house.
An open house generally attracts a large group of parents. So, set your expectations realistically. You will most likely not have time for in-depth discussions with admissions staffers. Go to an open house with one purpose: to get an impression of the school. If you like what you see, then schedule a formal meeting with the admissions staff. At that time you can ask the questions you need to ask and expect to receive the attention and time you deserve as a potential parent.
Before you go to an open house, take time to review the school's web site. That online presence will tell you a lot about the school, its history, philosophy and programs. Compare that very positive image with whatever you have heard about the school from friends, family and community leaders. Then attend the open house as an informed potential parent.