When it comes to your child’s education, it’s not unusual to want as much detail as you can get. The key is to ask questions and not to be afraid to push for more information if you’re not satisfied with the information you’ve received.
But where do you begin? Here are six important questions to get you started in researching your child’s educational opportunities.
1. What is the school environment like?
This is a two-part question that should inform you about the school’s physical environment as well as its overall feel. For the physical attributes, you should get to know if the campus feels like you and your student would want it to. Is it clean and well-lit? Does it look inviting and safe for students and their families? Does everyone feel safe and comfortable here?
Additionally, what’s the culture like on campus? Do you get the feeling it’s strict like a military school or completely laid back like a casual learning center? How are the students interacting with each other? How about the staff members? Is it an international environment that celebrates diversity and unique points of view? Do your research and ask all the questions you need to get a clear feeling of the campus environment.
2. What are the qualifications and educational training of the teachers and staff?
In a perfect world, every school would have high standards for its teaching staff. You trust that your students will be taught and looked after by teachers that are up-to-date in important developments and methods in their industry. It’s important to keep in mind that not all qualifications or training methods are the same, so it’s important that you’re happy with the training teachers and staff undergo.
3. How do you further those qualifications and opportunities for them?
Now, asking about the school’s policies on their staff’s development might seem like a very bold question coming from someone who’s not considering employment there – and frankly, it is – but the way a school cares for its staff and furthers their development is just as important as the qualifications the staff already had when they were hired.
As with any field, teachers need the opportunity to further develop their skills and education. This could be through in-house workshops, attending seminars, or funding further education. This helps foster an atmosphere where teachers are able to keep reaching their aspirations while also working dutifully on campus.
This will also give you a picture of how the teachers are valued. You can ask anybody in the field of education, teaching is a difficult, often under-appreciated job. This can also give you a good picture of how long the staff will stick around. Because just like with any job, employees that feel truly cared for rarely go looking around for different opportunities.
4. How can I stay involved in my child’s education?
While we all fear the dreaded “helicopter parent” label, there is nothing overbearing or wrong with asking about how you can stay involved in your child’s education. In fact, research demonstrates that students succeed most when their parents are actively engaged with their education.
Taking an active interest in your child’s education is important not only for their academic success but for their personal development. Ask about the events throughout the year that would involve parents and find out if there’s a parents’ association you can join. Given that we live in the Digital Age, you should also be made aware of any online tools such as a Parent Portal or an online grade book where you can have updates about your student’s assignments, grades, or even how they behave in class.
5. What curriculum do you use? Why?
Ask if there is a specific academic method that the school follows, such as Montessori, Waldorf, or the IB approach. This is an important step in learning more about the types of ideas and values your student will be encouraged towards. It’s important to get all of the information you can about the school’s curriculum. After all, this could help in making informed decisions about your student’s future career and university goals.
6. What are your student-teacher ratios and classroom sizes?
Size is an important factor in how students and their teachers feel in class. The community that’s built in a classroom can not only help your student develop themselves academically but creates the chance to build lasting social connections with their peers. Smaller class sizes all but guarantee that your student will have the attention that he or she needs to excel. They’ll benefit from more opportunities to participate in conversations and get involved in a meaningful way.
Beyond questions, here are some tips for parents who’d like to know more about the school they’re considering for their student.
- Ask for some time with potential teachers and staff members. Ask them about their policies in the classroom, their individual teaching styles and how that applies to the school’s curriculum, and try to hear more about their approach to their work.
- If you can, sit in on a class and experience first-hand how it operates.
- Learn about whether or not teachers offer students a chance at individualized learning or tutoring.
- Make sure you’re up-to-date on all policies and procedures. Among others, this should include policies on safety, health matters, and bullying.
Looking for the best opportunity for your high school student? At EF Academy, we help young people prepare for bright futures by offering university guidance, a variety of clubs and activities, and esteemed academic programs including the IB Diploma and A-Levels.
Learn more about EF Academy’s well-rounded high school experience and how it can prepare your student for success in university and beyond.