Open houses are designed to allow potential students and parents an opportunity to interact with the faculty, staff, parents and current students.
They also help you identify the school’s strengths, shortfalls, enthusiasm of teachers, preferred style of communication, student engagement, and the overall relationship between students, teachers, staff, and parents.
Regardless of the type of school you’re leaning toward or the grade level of your child, it is important aspect to include your child when touring schools. Have him or her attend open houses and join in the process; it will help in the decision-making.
Suggested questions to ask at school open houses and/or tours.
Preschool, kindergarten & early elementary school years
If your son or daughter is in preschool or in the early years of elementary school, you’ll want to observe them interacting in the classroom if possible. And prepare a list of questions for the teacher. Doing this will not only put you at ease, but will also engage the teacher in conversation, which can help you understand their personality.
Elementary, or lower, school marks the official start of your child’s education, when curriculum, educational approaches, class size, and opportunities for enrichment programs or help with learning disabilities or other special needs, become the primary focus for most parents. Sometimes, even if a child’s school continues through say, third or fifth or seventh grades, a family may decide that their needs have changed, or there’s a better school for their child. It is perfectly fine to look for a new school, and attend their open house, at any time, not just when your child has “graduated” from her current school.
Older elementary school and middle school
When older elementary school children attend open houses, they may have the opportunity to tour the campuses or buildings with current students. Encourage your child to ask questions. If you tour the campus with your child, observe his reaction to the classrooms and other environments.
high school/upper school
In high school, both parents and their children usually have a good idea of what they want in a school—the type of curriculum, i.e., strength of a particular area, such as math and science or the arts, or the number of A.P. courses, or its strong college guidance program, or its sports offerings. Attending open houses is a bit easier because so much of the legwork can be done ahead of time.
by Jessica Chin