The process of selecting a school is not an easy one with so many variables to consider. Not all schools are alike but usually, families have narrowed down their choices to schools with many similarities; academic offerings, athletics, arts, size, or geographical preferences. So how do you decide? The school visit often is the best variable to help make that decision particularity if considering a boarding school
First, let's start with what to look and what to ask on your School Visit.
1. Campus- While stately buildings and manicured athletic fields might be important to parents, more importantly, is what transpires within those beautiful buildings. As you tour pay attention to how the students and faculty engage within those spaces. Here are a few things to observe:
Has the school provided enough learning spaces adequate for the subject area taught? Has the school created an engaging learning environment?
Is there good lighting (natural or other)?
What are the seating arrangements in each classroom and does in encourage students to learn?
Is there school work displayed in the classrooms and hallways? Is it recent and relevant? What technology is being used and is it relevant?
2. Teacher engagement- Ask to see a class that is in progress. Observe the teacher and students and how they are connecting. Assuming it's not a test day you will hope to see a give-and-take between teachers and students. Do the teachers seem enthusiastic, knowledgeable and engaging? Are they asking questions that stimulate discussion?
3. Student Engagement- Observe the students in the classroom and in the hallways. Are they paying attention to the teacher? Are they asking questions? Are they respectful? Do they acknowledge visitors?
4. Physical, Emotional and Developmental Awareness- This is probably the most important thing I look for in a school but not just in terms of how many counselors or programs they offer. I look for their philosophy and mission toward students' growth in areas other than academics.
Are the versed and knowledgeable about brain-based learning?
Do they acknowledge the connections and importance of physical activity for a child/teen?
Do they stress the importance of the fine and performing arts as it affects brain development and the love of learning?
Do they give time and require the physical activity of all students?
Finding the right school will take research, time and often times a willingnes to step outside of the norm. Of all the rapid and major changes in our lives in the last 100 years, the education system is the least evolved ...until now. Be open to considering new learning styles and programs while valuing the tradition and proven success of educators.