ost private and independent schools set aside scheduled time just for you — for parents to visit during open houses or tours. Many are also happy to arrange private visits at other hours that may be more convenient to you.
This is your chance to get direct experience of the institution, as well as meet face-to-face with school teachers or administrators.
It’s your opportunity to ask those questions that most concern you and may not be dealt with in the promotional materials.
You may, of course, already be aware of the school’s tuition fees—and boarding fees if applicable. But you can certainly get more details about payment plans, as well as scholarships, and financial that could reduce your costs substantially.
You can check additional costs, if any, that you may be expected to pay out directly, such as for school supplies, uniforms, transportation, class trips and extracurricular activities.
Theory of learning
Most schools follow the Ontario curriculum but many have their own philosophical approach to teaching. Ask about the school’s pedagogy. What is the school’s style of instruction?
What are they aiming to achieve? Does the school’s program equip students with critical thinking, creativity, and the ability to collaborate — skills increasingly in demand?
For schools that go up to grade 12, how strong are their university preparation? What percentage of students go on to university?
Does the school prepare students for after graduation — to give the confidence to take risks and handle the pressures and heavy workloads of university and work life?
Further, what facilities and resources do they have available to help in this? What are the teachers’ qualifications to these ends?
How about other staff? Are there counsellors on staff and are counselling services readily available? Are personnel, such as a nurse and a librarian, on site to provide services?
From how the school answers these questions you may get an idea of how open they will be in addressing your future concerns about your child’ education. You can ask them this directly: Is the school administration open to parents’ input? Will parents be welcome to take part in school activities and decision-making?
Taking the issue of openness wider, you may also ask whether the school is supportive of the local community and involved in its life? Does it have programs or projects that take students into the larger society beyond the classroom walls?
Does the school address larger social issues, such as racism and sexism. What is the school’s policy on violence? How does it work to prevent bullying, especially online?
This is your chance to find out.