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The School Visit Checklist - What You Need To Know

Preparing for a school visit is crucial for parents if they really want to ask the right questions
Last updated: 2021-11-04

Preparing for a school visit is crucial for parents if they really want to ask the right questions and ensure the school is a good fit for their children. SmartShanghai has talked with a number of admissions officers, and below is a summary of what they recommend.

Before Your Visit

  • Understand the school's curriculum and philosophy – most information is available on the website or right here on SmartShanghai. This is particularly important, as the curriculum can have an impact on your child's future college prospects (for example, an American based curriculum transfers well to US universities, while British curriculum (and there are in fact two major ones) feed into British higher education systems. Check out our guide to High School curriculum's in Shanghai.
  • Write down specific questions that you want to ask, or print out from here
    Make sure to set up your appointment so the school knows that you are coming!

During Your Visit

  • Look around – do the children seem happy and engaged?
  • Be sure to observe a class in action.
  • Remember – the admissions team may not be wholly representative of the school. It's important to see the teachers and even talk to the principal if you have the chance.
  • What do the facilities look like? Does it seem safe? Are the bathrooms and cafeteria clean?
  • Who provides the food catering service, and are there options for your child to explore such as vegan or gluten free options?
  • Check out the student work. Does it look age appropriate?
    Are the teachers energetic and experienced?

Questions to Ask

  • Does this school have an educational philosophy or mission?
  • What is the maximum class size?
  • How are classes split up?
  • What is the breakdown of nationalities in the average class?
  • How does the school teach language, arts and music?
  • How long do most students stay at the school? Why do they leave?
  • What minimum and average qualifications do teachers have?
  • What is the licensing of the school? Accreditation? When was it updated? Check out SmartShanghai's guide on School Accreditation, it's extensive!
  • What extracurricular activities are available?
  • Where are the students from?

For Pre-K / Kindergarten / ECE students

  • How are classes broken up and how many students are there in each class?
  • Where are the teachers from?
  • What does the school do to build character or reinforce positive values?
  • How much outdoor time do kids get each day?

For Primary students

  • What is the school's approach to reading, math, science and social studies?
  • What language classes are offered to students?
  • How does the school prepare students for success in secondary?
  • How often do children usually stay at the school?

For Secondary School students

  • Does the school have a particular curriculum focus?
  • If the school does IB, what are the average scores? Does every student take IB?
  • If the school focuses on SAT or ACT, what are the average scores?
  • Where do students go after they graduate? Do you have a list of acceptances.
  • Is college counseling and support available?
  • What extracurricular activities are popular? Sports?