Are you planning to go on a school tour? There are so many excellent private schools in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area, how do you know which school is right for your unique child? What information do you need to make the best decision?

During every school tour you have the opportunity to ask questions to help in your decision-making. Below is a list of 20 questions you will want to consider asking when searching for the perfect-fit school for your child.

JUST ASK!

  1. What is your school's philosophy and mission?

    Follow-Up: How is it incorporated into a typical school day?

  2. What curriculum does your school implement and why?

    Follow-Up: Do you participate in the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) program or the Common Core State Standards adopted by Maryland and D.C.?

  3. What is the average class size and/or student-to-teacher ratio?

    Follow-Up: What is the faculty and staff turnover from year to year and what are the most common reasons they leave early?

  4. What is your homework policy?

    Follow-Up: How much homework is there on a nightly basis?

  5. What extracurricular activities does your school offer? Sports? Clubs? Competitions? Community service?

    Follow-Up: How does the school view the role of community service?

  6. Is technology integrated into the curriculum?

    Follow-Up: What is the role of technology in the classroom?

  7. What specialty classes do you offer?

    Follow-Up: What kind of facilities do you have? Gymnasium? Sports fields? Playground? Library? Music room? Art studio? Cafeteria?

  8. Which world languages do you offer?

    Follow-Up: What strategies are in place to teach kids who are not fluent in English?

  9. How do you support a student's strengths and weaknesses?

    Follow-Up: How do you assist students who have academic, social or emotional difficulties?

  10. How does your school differentiate learning?

    Follow-Up: Do you have a Gifted program?

  11. What is your approach to dealing with behavioral issues?

    Follow-Up: Does the school have an anti-bullying policy? What is the policy and how is it implemented?

  12. What is student life like?

    Follow-Up: What activities do you have to help transition new students into the academic and social life of the school?

  13. How is your school operated and governed?

    Follow-Up: What are some of the school's greatest accomplishments?

  14. What are your teachers' qualifications and what professional development opportunities do you offer them?

    Follow-Up: What are the top three skills or assets you look for when hiring faculty and staff?

  15. What kind of students are you looking for?

    Follow-Up: How do you measure individual achievement and progress?

  16. How much is tuition? Do you offer financial aid?

    Follow-Up: What does tuition include? Uniforms? Textbooks? Extracurricular activities?

  17. What supports do you have in place for working families?

    Follow-Up: Do you offer before- and after-school care?

  18. How do kids get to school?

    Follow-Up: Do you offer free transportation services?

  19. How engaged are your parents?

    Follow-Up: What kind of activities do parents participate in to contribute to school life?

  20. What are your school's hours? What are your administrator's hours?

    Follow-Up: What type of online communications do you provide?


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Jenny Heinbaugh is editor for Washington Parent.