As a parent, you always want the best for your child, whether that’s the nourishment you give them or their educational opportunities. Almost 100 percent of parents say they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their decision to move their child to a private school. Parents look for private schools who provide better classroom management, including smaller class sizes and an environment for learning. But with hundreds of private schools in the Los Angeles area to choose from, how can you find out which one is right for your child? At Chatsworth Hills Academy, we suggest you ask the schools you are considering the same questions to cover all of your concerns. Here are ten great questions to ask when searching for a private school.
1. Is the school accredited with a strong mission and plan?
Ask the teachers and the administrators what the school stands for. An accredited school program means its met and possible exceeded rigorous standards set by the accrediting agency. A strong mission statement will tell you what is a priority for the school and if that fits with your educational values. A mission statement should be prominently displayed and if the staff and administrators know what that mission is, they are more likely to have a strong focus for their work in educating your child.
2. What will be the student-teacher ratio in my child’s classroom?
Small class size is one of the biggest concerns for most parents when they are choosing a private school. The benefits can include fostering a better learning environment for the class as well as more one-on-one attention from the teacher.
3. What is type and scope of curriculum does the school offer?
This is broad topic, but can include not only the content that is being taught, but also the way in which it is being taught. Does the school focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) courses or subjects only? Do they believe in a more liberal arts education? A catalog of courses offered and/or a printout of your child’s daily activities for a typical week will help you see what the focus is. How will your child’s teacher differentiate learning for the wide scope of learners in the classroom? What enrichment programs might be offered to your child? Does the school offer special programs or tutoring for students who need extra help? The answers to these questions will help you find out if the school will meet your child’s individual learning needs.
4. How diverse is this school?
With information and communication so readily available, it’s important to teach 21st century learners that the world is a diverse place filled with people from faraway countries of different races, ethnicities and religions. This diverse global perspective can be exemplified by the student mix in your child’s school. A school with a diverse population can encourage inclusivity and acceptance. They can begin to understand that there are many different ways to look at the challenges of the world and a variety of viewpoints when it comes to solving those challenges. It’s important to remember that someday, you child could be working with people from around the world. You want a school that promotes diversity and a global perspective.
5. Does the school empower students by teaching a growth mindset?
Today’s students need to acquire the skills to approach an obstacle with confidence in knowing that they can solve whatever the situation. This growth mindset – the belief that you can get smarter through practice, effort and hard work – empowers students to research, take risks and be productive members of the learning community.
6. How does the school integrate technology into everyday learning?
The variety of types and uses of technology is astounding and growing every day. No doubt, there will be some type(s) of technology available to your child at the school you are considering. But does the school offer the latest types of technology? And, even more important, does the school limit the use of technology as a distraction? Or, does the school successfully integrate the use of technology into the classroom in ways that facilitate and enhance the learning process?
7. Is learning in the classroom focused on the teacher or student?
The days of a teacher standing in front of a class for an extended period of time lecturing about a given topic and the students memorizing the information for an assessment should be long gone. Today’s learner must be engaged to be the focus of the learning. This involves the teacher training to be the facilitator of the learning, asking the right questions and guiding the student to explore the options and information to find the correct solutions to the task. Do students in this classroom have a say in what they learn? How are the desks arranged? (Is the teacher’s desk at the front of the room and the focus?) When you tour the classroom, who is doing the talking, the teacher or the students? When students are challenged and solve real-life scenarios, the learning is deeper and more lasting.
8. What opportunities does the school offer for developing its faculty?
Schools that value their faculty, value what that faculty can do to teach your child. If the school offers both resources and training/learning opportunities for faculty, your child will benefit through a more positive learning environment as well as implementation of teaching best practices. This support should be evident in the passion that the teachers at the school show, which will spill over into their classrooms.
9. Does the school create a collaborative community?
The best schools welcome a collaboration between administration, faculty, students, parents and community members. When parents are actively involved in education, the students benefit greatly. Find a school that welcomes parents and has an active parent program that does more than just raise money for the school. Look for a school that has formal and informal communication strategies in place so that you can be aware of both events at the school and your child’s academic progress.
10. How safe and secure is the school?
When touring the school, you should get a general feel for the safety of the building and grounds as far as the cleanliness and general maintenance goes. But, especially in today’s world, safety goes much further than a rundown building. What procedures are in place for releasing children at the end of the day? Does the school lock the doors at all times? Is there a camera monitoring system in place throughout the building and campus? What security procedures are in place if there is a crisis situation? What training does the staff participate in that will prepare them to keep your child safe? How are emergencies communicated to parents?
The answers to these ten questions will help solidify the best private school for your son or daughter. If you’re looking for the best private school in the Los Angeles area, consider Chatsworth Hills Academy. CHA is the only International Baccalaureate World School in the San Fernando Valley for Preschool through 8th grade. Since it was founded in 1977, it has educated a diverse population of students who have gone on to graduate high school and attend premier universities around the world. For more information, or to take a tour of the campus, give us a call at (818) 998-4037 x275. We look forward to answering these ten questions and more to show you the great things CHA can bring to your child.