Choosing a school is a huge decision. As parents, we wonder: “Will my child be happy here? Will they feel welcomed and supported? Does the school offer plenty of opportunities to bring out the best in them? Is this really the right fit for them?”
Garden International School in KL offers parents advice on what to look for your next school visit.
Whatever is weighing on your mind – the best way of making your final choice is by visiting your shortlisted schools in person. Luckily, it’s the time of year when many international schools are opening their doors.
Visiting schools in person has plenty of benefits: the chance to explore a school’s campus, see teaching and learning in action, meet current teachers and families, and get a real feel for the school’s culture.
Here are four tips for making the most of your school visit!
#1 Research before you go
Aim to visit a school already having gleaned everything you can from their website & social media channels: their curriculum, facilities, exam results, and so on. Doing this research means that when you visit the school, you can focus on what matters most: the teaching and learning.
#2 Focus on the learning
Most school visits give you the chance to tour of the school’s campus and facilities. It’s easy to be wowed by fancy facilities – but what really is going to have the biggest impact on your child’s academic progress and wellbeing? Their teachers.
When you have the opportunity to see some teaching and learning ‘in action’, try not to rush past. Even without stepping directly inside a classroom, you should be able to do the following:
Look out for levels of student engagement. Do the children seem on task, busy and interested in their learning? They should!
Are all children doing the same thing, or can you see evidence of differentiation (different tasks for different abilities)? Great teachers will ensure every child is supported and challenged, wherever they are at in their learning.
Do the children look happy? No child can learn if they feel nervous, scared or worried. Happy children are great learners!
Do the children seem comfortable asking for help from the teacher? Can you see evidence of warm, positive teacher-student relationships? Positive relationships are crucial for children to learn.
#3 Ask about the teachers
You want to be confident that the teacher who will be working with your child every day is passionate, qualified, experienced and able to support your child in every step of their learning journey. During your school visit, ask questions like this to the teachers and senior leaders that you meet.
What qualifications do their teachers have? And if they join the school unqualified, is the school investing in training/supporting them to become qualified? They should.
How do they ensure the ongoing professional development of teachers? The best schools worldwide offer weekly professional development and training for their teaching teams.
#4: Talk to everyone
If you pop along to a school on an Open Day, you should have the chance to meet current members of the school community – students, parents and teachers. Speaking to them will help you learn about what the school is ‘really’ like on a day-to-day basis, so ask them as much as you can! In fact, we recommend going with a list of questions about things that really matter to you – What clubs and sports are on offer? As a parent, what activities can you get involved in here? How do the teachers assess and communicate information about student progress and achievements?
Keeping these four tips in mind should help make your school visit as valuable as possible for you and your family! Not yet convinced about attending an Open Days? Discover our Top 3 reasons to attend a School Open Day here.
We know that finding the right school is a tough decision. Hopefully, by visiting or attending an Open Day, you will have a clear sense of which school is the right one for your family – but remember it’s not just about the obvious things on offer. The best schools equip their students with the right skills, habits, character traits and confidence to last a lifetime.
Update 18 Sep 2019:
GIS Open Days are postponed due to the ongoing haze situation in Kuala Lumpur. The health & wellbeing of your family and our school community come first! We very much hope you will still be able to visit us, to see our teaching and learning in action, meet current parents and students and get a true feel for life and learning in our special school community. Prepare your child for the road ahead; get in touch to book your personalised tour today via gardenschool.edu.my or contact our lovely admission team at firstname.lastname@example.org or +603 6209 6888.
This post is sponsored by Garden International School.