What would you look for in a school?

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-17-2007
What would you look for in a school?
30
Thu, 03-26-2009 - 9:37am

If you were moving to a new area and checking out the schools, (not necessarily sitting in the classroom), what are the things you would look for in the schools?

What things tell you that the school is "better" than another down the road? What things are different when you are looking at an elementary school vs middle school vs High school?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-17-2007
Thu, 03-26-2009 - 9:50am

For me in elementary school, I would look for a school that has:

Artwork on the walls that hasn't been there for a long time (for example snowmen in May - would indicate a long time).

In the artwork itself, it is evident what the students were studying, but every picture has its own unique aspect. For example, do all the painted sun flowers look exactly the same, or are they variations on a theme?

I would peek into the classrooms and see if the desks were groups together in small bunches or lined up in neat rows and columns. I don't like the rows and column type of teaching. I like small group type of teaching.

Is the cafeteria out of control noisy or completely silent- both would be red flags to me. I would hope to see a medium noisy environment.

I would look to see if there was an active PTA and try to attend one of their meetings to see if it is a diva show or if there is a good working relationship between the Principal, teachers and parents.

I would look for a district that still has music and art classes.

I would look at the faces of the people working there. Are they smiling generally happy faces? Even if it is May (our schools end in June)?

I would look around at the general cleanliness of the place - at the end of the day. I would observe a recess to see how the kids play and interact with each other.

I would ask the Principal what his/her educational philosophy is and how it has changed through the years.

Those are of the top of my head and deal with more of the school culture than curriculum issues. It is not exhaustive.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 03-26-2009 - 10:04am
I would see how their Special Ed program handles autisitc students. This is something that actually would require spending some time in a classroom. Although I stayed out of that subthread because it was about neurotypical kids, dh and I did in fact spend time in the classroom and also went to the PT room and met with the aids, OT, PT and ST as well as watched them in action.
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-17-2007
Thu, 03-26-2009 - 10:18am

Amen!

My personal list, not my general list, is much longer.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-15-2006
Thu, 03-26-2009 - 10:58am

one rant about the classrooms in this district is the open concept.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-17-2007
Thu, 03-26-2009 - 11:32am
What do you mean when you talk about closed and open classrooms? I have seen several different meanings through the years.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Thu, 03-26-2009 - 1:34pm

I'd look for consistency in test scores all the way up, from elementary to high school. Many school principals really want to get their test scores up, so they'll focus on that, even having test coaching in place of other teaching. This happens at quite a few elementary schools around here. But when those children go to middle school, the scores collectively drop.

Avatar for mom34101
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 03-26-2009 - 3:36pm

Others have brought up many good points. We've also looked for schools with diversity and where parents are involved and encouraged to be involved in their kids' education. Probably the biggest thing for us has been finding schools that suit our kids' individual learning styles, personalities, and academic needs.

I don't have a high schooler yet, but in looking at middle schools, finding the right school for my older dd was very much about her learning style, interests, and academic strengths.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-31-2008
Thu, 03-26-2009 - 3:49pm

We just did the hs dance with my oldest dd. The public school hs is perhaps academically superior to the one she chose, a parochial hs. She was attracted to the traditional academic program, the smaller school size, the school family feeling of the community, and the competitive athletic program that fits her skill level. She'd rather be a big fish in a small pond, than a slightly smaller fish is a large pond. I have no doubt that she'll be successful wherever she goes, but she got to choose the one she felt was the best fit for her.

Avatar for rollmops2009
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2009
Thu, 03-26-2009 - 4:44pm
We had the HS choice last year (for the last two years, which are the ones that count here). In the end, dd decided to stay in the local public. She knows what the downside is, but wanted to have a "normal" HS experience rather than a privileged one.
Avatar for mom34101
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 03-26-2009 - 7:15pm
Yep, that's so important. There are some tradeoffs with my dd's new school, but she's been talking about auditioning there (it's an arts magnet school) since 3d grade. It's a great fit for her.

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