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Navigating Private School Tours During a Pandemic

Navigating Private School Tours During a Pandemic

Choosing the right private school is a difficult decision at any time, and the pandemic has added extra layers of complications to the process.

But an abundance of online resources as well as in-person tours adjusted for safety make it possible for families to research schools and gain the information they need. Tampa Bay Parenting reached out to Corbett Prep and other local private schools for tips for parents on how to find the school for them.

Here are some highlights Corbett Prep shared:

  • Do your homework. Research the school website to find easy answers to general questions surrounding bus service, tuition, lunch, school hours, dress code, athletics, calendar, parent involvement, after-school activities, health and safety protocols and procedures, accreditation and more.
  • Check out the school's Facebook page before your tour to get a feel for the approach to teaching and learning, the school culture and community. Then make a list of deeper questions that are important to you to ask about and look for on your tour.
  • Look and listen. Whether you are touring in person or dropping in to observe via Zoom, look at the campus and classrooms to see interactions, instructional methods and attitudes. Are students engaged and happy? Are the classrooms and campus bright, clean, safe, and secure? Are there outside spaces that have room for kids to spread out and move freely?
  • Talk to a teacher if you can. Ask about class size and how it affects instruction, learning and the teacher-student connection. Is the teacher able to differentiate instruction for students? If so, what does that look like? How will your child feel valued for their unique qualities and gifts? Explore the academic curriculum – does the school use a traditional singular program of study or does it offer a combination of approaches? Does the curriculum include teaching kids to consider global perspectives? Is there a social-emotional learning component? Are enrichment/specials classes – art, music, drama, dance, international languages, physical education – part of the daily schedule? What about free play or recess?
  • Think it over. Notice the energy you feel on your tour and pay attention to that intangible "gut feeling" as to whether you can see the school as a place your child will be happy and successful. Many schools seem similar on paper, but certain ones will stand out as the right fit.

Read the entire article online in Tampa Bay Parenting's Oct. 2020 issue for more tips and suggestions.

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