Personality: Every school has a personality. We can tell a lot about the culture of a school by its appearance, newsletter, website, and of course, the behavior of staff and faculty. It’s a great sign if all the school’s materials are easy to read, informative and you were able to find information easily. Many schools have mastered the art of communication with parents, while others are still working on their methods. Ask about how the school communicates with its parents and members of the community. Does the school have many partnerships with community businesses? What about the school’s climate? From the moment you walk through the front door, you should feel welcomed. The front office staff should greet you with a smile and be happy to help you. Maybe there’s “Welcome” signs in different languages, student artwork, or cheerful pictures of the staff and students engaging in different activities, gracing the front office walls. Be careful not to judge a book by its cover – some schools can’t help the structure of a tall and intimidating building, or guest parking that’s quite a walking distance from the main entrance. But, hopefully, the staff makes up for it with their kindness and partnership culture.
Performance: Every State Department of Education has a website with information and data collected on all schools. Every school is graded annually on its performance, which is based on how well students do academically. You should be able to find the schools grade and whether or not it met its target goals.
If advice from other parents is most important to you, there are a few online support groups you can join. Yahoo.com offers free online support groups on virtually any topic from disability specific groups to home-schooling parent groups. This is especially helpful to parents moving from one state to another who would like the opinions of parents, family members, students and educators. Tip: create an email account exclusively for this. Some groups are very active and will flood your email account!
© 2015 Sensory Friends