parent checklist for school tours


Making the Most of School Tours
by Marie Roker
Successful Child

Choosing the right school for your child is a very big decision. School tours are the best way to find out more about the school. The only way to make an informed decision is to visit the school. Before you take your next school tour, you want to make sure that you are well prepared and have carefully examined all the facts about the school you and your child are choosing. 

Here is checklist of questions and things to observe on your next school tour. 

What is the school's philosophy?
Does the school's philosophy match your philosophy on learning?
What is the ratio of teachers to students?
How many teachers’ aides are in a class? What is the maximum number of students per class?
How is the day structured?
How much time is spent on independent play vs. group activities?
How is the curriculum developed?
Is the curriculum built around "play"? Are the children provided structured learning experience?
How receptive is the staff and administration? When you called the school to make an appointment or to ask questions, was the staff polite and receptive? 
Are the teachers attentive and responsive? 
Observe how teachers speak to the children. Pay attention to their tone and body language.
How are discipline issues handled?
How do teachers intervene when a problem arises?
Are the children encouraged to play or does the school function as a mini college? 
This is important for those parents who prefer a more academic setting for their little ones.
Is nap time suggested or enforced?
How clean is the play area? Are the toys and blocks dirty? Ask the teacher or Director of the school how often toys and books are cleaned.
Does the school have a "community" feeling?
Would your child feel comfortable in this setting?
Does the school embrace cultural diversity? 
Chances are, if you don't feel comfortable in a school, your child may not feel comfortable too. 
Does the school support parental involvement?
Are parents welcome to be part of their child's experience?
What is the turn-over rate of teachers? 
How long has the Director been involved with the school?
Does the Director have any short or long term plans for the school?
If it is a private school, does the school offer scholarships?
Does the school offer extended hours for working parents?
Does the school have its own playground? Is the playground equipment stable?
Does the school have an Emergency Evacuation Plan? Is this plan given to parents?

Elementary/Middle/High School
What is the school's philosophy? 
What is the school’s code of conduct?
Does the school offer conflict resolution? 
What are the guidelines for suspension and expulsion?
Does the school have a strict dress code?
How do the students interact with the teachers?
Does the school have a diverse student population?
Does the school have an accelerated or gifted program?
What is the criteria for having your child tested or admitted into a gifted program?
What is the average class size?
Does the school have reduced class size? (Are the reduced class size only for particular programs?)
Does the school offer an integrated curriculum with full inclusion of all learners?
What are the school’s academic standards?
How are the school's test scores?
Do the scores fluctuate or have they been steadily improving or declining?
How does the school prepare its students for higher education?
What programs are offered in the school?
Does the school support English Language Learners?
How long has the administration been in the school?
Does the school provide teachers with professional development?
Does the school have a strong PTA?
Is there an after school program?
Does the school have an Emergency Evacuation Plan? Is this plan given to parents?
Does the school have a website?

Be sure to bring a pen and notepad. Ask if you can follow-up with a current parent to get their perspective on the school.

Check out your state's Department of Education site at

This article provided by the Family Content Archives at:

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