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The Post-Covid Guide to Open Houses

Mina Yan Jingkids 2022-05-10

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Open houses are markedly different than they were just three years ago. Whether you’re allowed to visit the campus largely depends on the latest Covid restrictions, and while many schools have shifted to online open houses, it’s understandably difficult to get a feel for what your child’s life will actually look like without ever seeing the environment, or speaking face-to-face with staff.


All of which is to say, whether a school is the “best” international school entirely depends on what your family and your child’s needs are, and it’s vitally important that you get that information whether you’re on-site or online.


Nevertheless, when you’ve narrowed down your choices to a few favorites, it’s time to put them side by side and see how they stack up. Forget the beautiful campus with its bells and whistles for a second, and forget all the perfectly crafted eloquent words that the school’s marketing department sent over. Instead, take a moment to reflect on what the school truly embodies and stands for.



Educational Philosophy


Do they facilitate hands-on activities or promote exploratory independent learning? What’s the approach that the teachers take? Is it a more traditional lecture-based format, or do they immerse students in the learning process? Finally, and perhaps most importantly, does the school’s educational philosophy match your child’s learning style?


Extracurricular Activities


Don’t just focus on the academics. More and more schools are concentrating on the importance of a child’s portfolio rather than just grades. This means they need to spend time outside the classroom, both getting introduced to and doubling down on their hobbies and interests. Does the school have what your child needs to fully realize their potential and passions?



The Students


Schools like to highlight and profile their star pupils. These are the extraordinary kids who have won awards in various fields and are pursuing academic excellence in every way. While that’s fantastic for that student in particular and a nice feather in the cap of the school, it doesn’t necessarily represent the student body as a whole. What’s a typical student at the school like? Meet and talk to a few of them from various social circles and you’ll get a better idea of what each years’ cohort is really like rather than the academic careers of a few exemplary individuals.


What does your child think?


If your child is old enough to discern what they want out of school life, ask them what they think of the campus and their potential classmates. After all, they’re the ones who will be spending the majority of their time there.


Online Learning


Covid has put us in a constant state of uncertainty. We don’t know when a case will suddenly break out and schools will need to move to online learning. Be sure to ask the school what their e-learning plans are and have them show you an example if possible.


Ask Questions


There’s no such thing as a dumb question. You’re a prospective parent just like everyone else and your concerns most likely represent the concerns of other parents too. Don’t ever feel shy about asking the school admissions staff questions. That’s what they’re there for.


The Community


Never underestimate the power of the Beijing community! Talk to teachers and parents and get unvarnished feedback about the school you’re considering. Unlike the marketing materials, chances are they’ll tell you the good and the bad.


Images: Pexels

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