We are often asked by parents who have not been to a school open day before, what they should expect and how they can prepare for it. Selecting a school that is most suited to your child, while being convenient for your family can be a difficult task and there are many factors to consider before you make your final decision. Schools all over the country will be opening their doors and inviting visitors to explore all that the school can offer children. This usually includes a tour of the grounds, an overview of the facilities and meeting the teachers and pupils, amongst other activities. The following feature offers advice on what to consider before you attend an open day and how you can make the most of your time at the school.
Bring Your Child with You
It is important to consider which school and environment best suits your child. Bringing your child along with you to the open day will provide a clearer visualisation of them in the school. You will be able to evaluate their reactions, interest and conclusion of the school throughout the open day, as well as conversing with one another and discussing how each of you feel about it when you return home. Encourage them to be involved throughout the day, by asking questions and taking part in the activities.
Meet the Head Teacher
The Head Teacher may give a speech which could be focused on the values and aims of the school, how it performs academically, extra-curricular activities offered and so on. The Head Teacher will then invite visitors to ask any questions they may have, followed by circulating the room and talking to parents and potential students. This is a great chance to evaluate the Head’s contribution, their enthusiasm and dedication and how involved they are with the day to day functions of the school.
Talk to Teachers
The teachers will provide great insight into the structure of lessons, topics covered, homework expectations and what level the pupils are working at, as well as the bullying policy, the disciplinary procedure and much more! This is invaluable to parents in their search for a school for their child.
Talk to Pupils
Children are usually very honest, even on open days when they are all on their best behaviour. So, if the pupils are happy, it is a sure sign that the school is a comfortable and pleasurable environment to be. Ask them whether they have any of their work displayed on the walls, where they have recently been on school trips, whether they enjoy their classes and playtimes and if they like their teachers and how they help them when they’re struggling.
Schools that are invested in their pupils are more likely to hold extra-curricular activities. These activities encourage your children to explore and develop their interests outside of the structured school routine and regular curriculum. They are hugely beneficial for igniting passion and dedication for subjects and activities that are necessarily chosen for them.
The diet of children can considerably affect their ability to concentrate, engage and retain information. A school that serves healthy and nutritious meals is contributing to the child’s relationship with food and is instilling a positive attitude to the meals they eat. A balanced diet is vital for several reasons, including growth, development, energy and motivation. The choices they make regarding their diet whilst in school, will assist them with making healthy choices in the future. Find out what is typically served during the week and when the children eat meals.
An open day is a great opportunity to see a prospective co-education prep school. Take the time to feel the atmosphere of the school, rather than focusing too heavily on the details. Consider how you and your child relate to the everyday functions and requirements, as well as the school’s achievements and credits.
Our open mornings at St Peter’s Preparatory School in the Lent term 2018 are taking place between 10:00 and 12:00 on Wednesday 7 February 2018 and on Saturday 10 March 2018. All are welcome to attend. Pupils from our upper school tour prospective parents and their children so there are plenty of opportunities for our pupils to give their opinion of their school.
Our pupils and parents will attend senior school open days as they approach Year 8 and start making decisions as to which school comes next in their educational journey. As an independent prep school, we are not tied to any particular senior school and firmly believe that parents should choose the school that is right for each individual child, which might even mean that siblings end up in different senior schools.
Mrs Johnston, head at St Peter’s, supports and advises parents and children in their search for the senior school that will best suit that pupil in Year 9. As a school, we encourage our parents and pupils to attend open days with an open mind, but also to pay particular attention to the tips given in this article.