During an open house, parents can learn critical information about a child’s potential school. Attend your next open house equipped with what to expect. Here is our list of local open houses to visit.

Expect to hear words of welcome from administrators and a plug from the PTA. Schools usually include a brief history of the school, an overview of educational philosophy, a mission statement and perhaps a list of extracurricular activities. This overview period is a good time for parents to ask about the bus schedule, school lunches, physical education requirements, dress code and other general information.

Most schools offer a guided tour, usually including the media center, gymnasium, computer labs and classrooms.

After the open house, look at SAT scores, attendance records and grade-point averages. Follow up with phone calls and emails if you have questions.

Go Beyond the Open House

Schedule a time to observe a class in session. This will give you a good idea of the teaching style and classroom setting. Are the desks arranged in groups or in rows facing the teacher? This is typically an indication of the amount of student interaction that is encouraged in that classroom.

Take a tour yourself. Look for physical indicators of the school’s sense of pride. Do teachers set a good example by picking up trash from the floor? Examine the condition of the restrooms.

Talk to other parents about the school. Most parents are happy to share their thoughts.

Look at the big picture. You may be hoping to stay with the system through high school, so research graduation and college placement rates. This information is usually found on the school’s website.

How to Pick the A+ School

Metro Atlanta has many opportunities to find the perfect school for your child. The metro area’s high concentration of schools allows for plenty of choices, but you will have to do some homework to find the best fit.

School size is important. Some children might get lost in a school with 2,000 students, while others would thrive.

Attend open houses. Plan to look at lots of websites and attend lots of open houses. You’ll need to make campus visits as well.

Fit your budget. You will need to find a school that fits your budget, or offers scholarships to help with the tuition costs.

– Alexi Wilbourn

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