If your child is in the process of applying for enrollment in a new school for the following year, attending as many Open House events at prospective schools is extremely important – even if they are being held virtually. Here’s why these events are essential.
- Meet the faculty. This is your opportunity for you and your child to meet his potential future teachers and principal. The principal, in particular, plays a major role in the school and consequently, in the lives of the students. It is very important that you feel comfortable with this person being at the forefront of your child’s school.
- Be on the school’s radar. Schools often take note of which students attend their open house events and that could be factor in their decision to offer your child a spot. Always be sure to neatly write your child’s name on the attendance sheet so they know she was there.
- Get a feel for the surroundings. Ever hear of “good vibes?” That’s exactly what you should feel for a prospective school. The atmosphere, the staff, the location, the students – all of it should just feel right. If it doesn’t, trust your gut and cross it off the list.
- Assess your commute. If the event is being held in person, it’s a good chance to do a practice run on the commute. You can see how far the school is from your home, how long it takes to get there, and what the surrounding neighborhood is like. At the Open House you will also learn which transportation options are available.
- Learn about programs offered. This is often one of the most important deciding factors when selecting a school. At the Open House event, you will be given an in-depth look at the programs and courses offered at the school. You can ask questions, meet the teachers heading up each program and learn about your child’s academic options.
- Voice safety concerns. Your child’s safety is crucial. At the Open House, the school will address any questions or concerns you have about security measures, emergency procedures, possible crime statistics and more. This is your chance to express any coronavirus concerns you have, and to learn the school’s Covid-19 regulations and preventive measures.
- Learn about the school day. At the Open House, you will find out what time school starts and ends, when your child will be eating lunch, what her daily schedule might look like, how the periods are structured and other information about the school day.
- See which extracurricular activities and clubs are available. Most schools offer afterschool sports, academic clubs, and other programs your child might be interested in joining. A school that offers a wide variety of extracurricular activities might play a large role in his decision to apply.
- Meet current students. One of the best ways to learn about a school is from the students themselves. At the Open House, students are often on hand to help describe the programs in which they are involved and what student life is like at the school.
- Learn about the application and selection process. Some schools require tests or auditions, other schools screen applicants based on grades or other factors and some select students entirely at random. At the Open House, you will learn what is required to apply to the school and estimate your child’s odds of receiving an offer. You can also ask questions or voice your concerns about the process to ensure you have all the information you need to help your child apply for enrollment.
By Jeannine Cintron, Staten Island Parent Editor and mom of two cute and crazy kids.