When considering a school for your family, you will want to visit during a school day to see it action. During your visit, here are some questions you might think about when you tour and observe in classrooms.

Students

  • How engaged are students in their work?
  • Do they seem happy? Focused? Involved?

Relationships

  • Do people speak respectfully to each other – adults and children?
  • Is cooperation and kindness evident? Good humor?
  • How much communication and conversation is happening?
  • Are children encouraged to make decisions? Are they given choices?
  • How are conflicts handled? Are children taught strategies for handling conflicts themselves?
  • Is everyone included? Do children invite others to join in? Does the teacher help them include others?

Classroom Environment

  • Is the classroom environment comfortable and kid friendly?
  • Is the classroom clean, organized and cared for?
  • Is the layout and furniture flexible for different types of learning?
  • Can you tell by looking at the classroom what they have been studying?
  • Do you see children’s work on display? Is it creative and original?
  • Is it a rich, stimulating place to be? Is it joyful?
  • Would you enjoy spending your day in the classroom?

Classroom Materials

  • Are there manipulative materials for the children? (blocks, counting objects, things from nature, maps, games…)
  • Do you see materials for creative arts project?
  • Are there lots of books in the rooms?
  • What is the role of technology in the classroom?

Student Activities

  • Is there a balance of large group, small group and individual activities?
  • Do adults ask interesting, open-ended questions that encourage thinking?
  • Do teachers allow enough wait time for children to answer thoughtfully?
  • Do students ask thoughtful questions? Do they listen to each other?
  • Are there examples of in-depth projects?
  • Can children move around? Are they invited to learn with all their senses and with their bodies?
  • Are children given choices and allowed to follow their passions?
  • Do activities allow for children’s different ability levels?

What other questions do you ask when you visit schools?

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