“Will my child be happy here? Will he or she excel in this environment?” These are probably questions that come to mind when choosing a school for our kids. Undoubtedly, it is a big decision and there is no better way to evaluate a prospective school for your child than to visit the school’s Open House. Here’s why!
Matching your child’s interests with the school programmes
A holistic education comprises of the academic curriculum and other important areas such as sports, arts and information technology. Look at your child’s interests, find out what they like and discuss. Then, match them with a school that has developed programmes in those areas.
For example, if your child is interested in art, he or she can benefit from the
pottery programme offered at Jingshan Primary School, which aims to help students appreciate and enjoy art. By understanding your child’s interests, you will give them a chance to foster their strengths
Open houses create opportunities for parents to explore the school and learn how it can benefit your child. Parents can find out about the programmes and CCAs offered before making that ultimate decision.
During the open house, take a tour around the school and explore the facilities. Check if the facilities support the school’s programmes.
Observing the school culture and identity
Every school’s culture and identity is unique.
We can start to get a sense of it by observing the students and teachers at the open house. For example, are the students friendly? Do they greet their teachers? If you get to observe a class, look for interaction between students and teachers.
Understanding the school culture will also help you to prepare your child for what they can expect and make it easier for them to fit in.
Finding out about parent involvement opportunities
When attending a school’s Open house, find out about the Parent Support Group (PSG) and meet fellow parents!
Joining a PSG has many advantages. Firstly, you can share information and provide constructive feedback to the school. Secondly, the PSG can provide assistance and emotional support during a crisis. Most importantly, you can bond with other parents and come together to deal with similar concerns. It is an excellent opportunity for parents to contribute as volunteers and have a better understanding of the overall schooling process.
Meeting the alumni
Sometimes, the school’s alumni will be present at open houses. This is a great opportunity for parents to ask questions and receive genuine feedback. Alumni can share key insights on how they have benefitted from the school. Parents can understand the school’s strengths and ethos from the real-life experiences of the alumni. For example, Dr Poon, an alumni of Zhonghua Primary School, credited her former primary school for teaching her the importance of a balanced and fulfilling life. She added that her school experiences gave her the confidence to pursue her dreams.
Also, national shooter and alumni of Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School, Jasmine Ser, is extremely appreciative of the holistic education and character development programmes that made her a better person.
Online vs. Reality
While it is convenient to retrieve information by visiting the school’s website and Facebook pages, attending an open house is an effective way of finding answers. You can speak to teachers, students and staff, face to face to find out more about the programmes you read online and how students are responding to it.
Travel time and distance to schools
When heading for the open house, take note of the time taken to travel to the school. Choosing a school near your home reduces travelling time, especially in the morning. Time can be better spent getting more sleep, participating in fun programmes and bonding with family. You will also be able to save money on transportation fees!
Special needs support
If your child requires special needs support, speak to school staff at the open house. Find out about the staff providing support, as well as facilities for physical disabilities, if required. Parents also have the option of sending their child with learning disabilities to Special Education (SPED) Schools.
When visiting the school’s Open house, come prepared. Do your research and know your questions. The “right” school would match our children’s interests and abilities, and meet our requirements as parents.
This is an updated version of a Schoolbag article with the same title, which was published on 10 Jun 2016.