Important things to watch out for when visiting a new school
Visiting the international schools on your list is vital to determine the best education for your child when moving to a new country. It helps you to understand the school environment and identify its strengths and challenges. Seeing the school compound helps you to judge if the school has a safe environment while looking in at classes, chatting with the teachers and observing the students give you advanced knowledge of the workings of the school.
Before visiting the school:
- Conduct some checks
Read up about the different schools in your lists via the school’s websites as well as forums. Find out if other parents send their children to the same school and ask them about the school.
- Call / Email the school
It is not polite to spring a surprise visit to the school, so call or email ahead to let them know. Find out if there are any upcoming school tours or open houses if it is during the enrolment period.
- Prepare your question list
It is often impossible for us to remember everything we want to know; hence, writing up a list of questions help you to focus on the important ones that you need to ask. Some of the critical questions that you can ask are listed below.
- What is the curriculum offered at the school?
- What are the grades or levels of education provided?
- What is the language of instruction?
- Are there foreign languages offered at the school?
- Are these foreign languages suitable for your child?
- Are there artistic classes offered?
- Are there after-school activities to develop soft skills?
- Does the school use a mixture of technology and traditional methodology to teach?
- Do the teachers give out homework daily?
- Is there a canteen?
- Are there sufficient restrooms and are they clean and dry?
- Does the school have a safe and secure premise?
- Are there complementary resources such as a well-stocked library, a music room and a computer room?
- Are there sports types of equipment?
- Where is the school located? Is it in a serene neighbourhood?
- What is the diversity of the student population?
- What big is the student population?
- What is the teacher-student ratio in class?
- What is the school’s regulation towards discipline?
- What is the school’s stand on attendance and punctuality?
- What is the school’s policy regarding disruptive behaviours and bullying?
- What is the policy of the institution regarding parental involvement?
- How does the school communicate with the parents?
Safety and Emergency
- Does the school have a school nurse service?
- What is the school’s emergency procedure?
- Is the school equipped with medical and emergency kits?
- Is the school producing good academic results?
- Does the school offer financial aid and scholarships?
- What are the teachers’ qualifications and accreditations?
- Is there regular training in place for the teachers?
- Are the teachers trained to use different teaching instructions based on every child’s need?
- Are the teachers trained to care for special needs children?
- Are there proper resources to address particular needs?
- Are there career-counselling services in the school?
- What is the staff turnover rate?
The questions above are of course, not exhaustive, and you may have other issues that cater to the personal needs of your child. Be sure to pick the right questions and put them on your list so that you have an easier time when visiting the schools.
We hope this is helpful and we wish you happy school hunting!
By Zerlina Zhuang