How you can get the most out of school open days

It’s school Open Day season! From about March each year, many schools roll out the welcome mat for prospective students and their parents. We give you some tips on cutting through each school’s highlight reel and get a true sense of whether the school is right for your family.

As the name suggests, an Open Day is when you can meet with the principal and ask questions. It’s when teachers get to showcase their classrooms. It’s where senior students act as guides. As a prospective family, you get to go ‘behind the scenes’. They can be incredible valuable in that they provide you and your child with an idea of what the school looks and feels like. You can gather information on what is available to you and your child academically, athletically and more.

School Open Days can be exciting. But let’s face it, they can also be daunting for parents new to this ‘choosing a school’ thing. It’s important to do a bit of preparation before you attend.

First, think about what’s most important to you when choosing a school for your child. Is it academic achievement, is it behaviour management, is it the overall feel of the school, is it the teachers, is it the facilities and resources? It might be a combination of all these things.

Come armed with questions

Write down all the things you hope your potential school can deliver. Use these things as a starting point for any essential questions you need answered.

While every school will provide you with a handbook covering the essentials of school life. This gives you a good overview of the school and its approach. However, you may have more questions about the school’s teaching philosophy, approach to discipline and what life is like outside the classroom for its students.

Look around you

Another way to gauge whether the school is right for your family is to have a look around. Do the students appear happy? Do the teachers seem approachable and friendly? Can you picture yourself and your family here?

Sometimes these observations can carry the most weight, and even if your questions have been answered well if any of these things don’t seem right then it may not be the school for you.

Talk to other families

Chat to other families with children at some of the schools you’re considering. They can give you insider knowledge and share what they like best about the school. However, always come back to your first list of what’s most important to you as this can vary from family to family. Make sure you’re choosing based on your own needs and values and not what is talked about as a ‘good school’.

Resources to help you plan

For a list of south-east Queensland schools open days, visit our Open Day Calendar.

Have you visited any school open days? 

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Written by Calista Bruschi

When she’s not moulding Play-Doh or dancing in the living room with her children, Calista Bruschi is an editor and writer. She has oodles of experience working on newspapers, magazines and websites. Calista likes to organise and be organised. She loves being a mum, Italian food, wine, sport and stationery. She hasn't sleep a full night in more than five years and is powered by coffee.

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