School tours vary from awesomely impressive to downright rubbish. Either way, the experience is essential.
Based on years of experience of accompanying parents on hundreds of school tours, here are our top five mistakes to avoid.
Mistake #1: Not being polite to EVERYONE
Parents are not always aware that it is necessary to be polite to absolutely everyone, even a receptionist or janitor.
It is best to assume that your every interaction with everyone in the school, be it a member of staff, a student or another parent, is being observed and evaluated. Sometimes, students and staff are asked to give feedback on parents.
Mistake #2: Bringing your children
An invitation or confirmation e-mail for a school visit will sometimes include some basic instructions about what to do or not do, where to park, and so on. Some schools do specifically state that a tour, information session or seminar is not for children, yet parents still bring their offspring! This shows a lack of respect for the school rules and is not a great start. Even if no specific guidelines are included, we generally advise parents not to bring young children on tours and certainly not to seminars, even if allowed.
Mistake #3: Not making an effort
Even though a particular school may not be your first choice, attend with an open mind and make an effort to create a good impression. If you do apply to the school later on, you’ll be so glad you did.
Be fully present during your time on campus. Turn off all devices and refrain from e-mailing or texting. Bring a notebook and take notes! The school has been good enough to spend valuable resources on conducting a tour; the least parents can do is demonstrate their interest in the school.
Mistake #4: Asking basic questions
If you were going for a job interview, you would research the company first, wouldn’t you? So, why do so many parents show up at schools and ask basic questions which are easily answered online?
Do NOT ask which curriculum the school uses, how much their tuition fees are, how many students there are in the school or any other basic question. Ask insightful questions and use the opportunity to make a good impression.
Mistake #5: Dressing inappropriately
It may not be required, but a suit and tie for dads and smart or smart-casual for ladies is what we advise. No jeans or flip-flops. And – it’s already been said – no baby slings, buggies or anything similar!
Originally published in Education Post, May 29, 2015