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December 3, 2019
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Best Practices for Kindergarten School Tours

DPS Round 1 Choice opens 01/15/20 at 8:30am and closes 02/18/20 at 4:00pm, and many families are in the midst of touring schools. Where do you start? Check out a few best practices below and be sure to sign up for the 12/07/19 2:00pm-6:00pm Preparing for Denver Kindergarten class specifically designed for Stapleton parents!

Overall Best Practices

  • Always start with your assigned boundary school or Enrollment Zone schools
  • Research Before You Tour: school size, number of classrooms, demographics, CDE and DPS SPF scores (reminder: scores reflect first and foremost how many kiddos are experiencing poverty), odds, proxmity zones and admission priorities
  • Check the school’s web site to see if you can sign up to tour online (almost all Stapleton Enrollment Zone Elementary schools offer this)
  • If an online tour sign up is not possible, call each school directly between 10am – 11am or 1pm – 2pm to ask about available tours
  • Tour with your partner (if possible/applicable)
  • Most schools prefer that you not bring your kiddo on tours (but you can ask)
  • Give each school three strikes (a bad tour is only one strike)
  • Set up your tour during rush hour to test the commute (reminder: anyone in 80238 who attends a SEZ Elementary School and lives more than a “walkable mile” away from the school can take the bus starting in Kindergarten)
  • Best months to tour: October, November, December, January (before choice deadline)
  • Kindness goes a long way: on the phone, when you get to the school and during the tour

What to Look For

  • Do classrooms look cheerful? Is student work displayed, and does it seem appropriate for the grade level?
  • Do teachers seem enthusiastic and knowledgeable, asking questions that stimulate students and keep them engaged?
  • Does the principal seem confident and interested in interacting with students, teachers and parents?
  • How do students behave as they move from class to class or play outside?
  • How well are the facilities maintained? Are bathrooms clean and well supplied, and do the grounds look safe and inviting?
  • What types of messaging do you get when touring? What phrases and themes do you see on the walls of the school?
  • Pay attention to how the school makes you feel (trust your gut)

Things to Ask About

  • Is there an active Parent Teacher Association (PTA/PTO)? What other types of parent involvement take place at this school?
  • How much outdoor time do kids get each day?
  • How much did the school fund raise last year? What are those funds used for?
  • What specials are available?
  • What extracurriculars are available?
  • How many days a week is the Gifted Support person on site? What is his/her background?
  • What kind of grouping (ability, flexible) is the school doing? How are they differentiating for Kindergartners?
  • How often do kiddos go on field trips?
  • What is the average class size this year? What grades have paraprofessionals in the classrooms?
  • How many professional development days per year do teachers get?
  • What is the tour guide’s three favorite things about the school? About the Principal? The Teachers/staff?
  • Speak up: ask to tour all Kindergarten rooms, the gym, the library, the playground, the specials rooms, etc.
  • Always ask: What do you wish prospective parents knew about this school? What is a common misconception about this school?

Personnel

  • Some Principals do the tour (rare – and super cool)
  • Most schools have Parents/PTO/CSC members do the tour
  • Some schools have the Office Contacts do the tour

Follow Up

  • Email any unanswered questions to the Assistant Principal or tour contact
  • Request contact information for parent(s) with kiddos who have been at the school for 2-3 years
  • Request contact information for the most established and newest teachers (ask them their favorite things and things they wish they could change)

TLDR: Start with your boundary/enrollment zone schools, do your research before you tour so that you make the most of the time, tour with your partner if possible, keep an open mind, and trust your gut. The majority of our kiddos will thrive at any school with any teacher, I promise.

Want to learn more? Join me for a Stapleton Enrollment Zone Preparing for Denver Kinderten class this Saturday (12/07/19) from 2-6pm. This is the last Stapleton specific class until Fall, 2020 and we provide free childcare! Register at http://www.123formbuilder.com/form-4764564/2019-2020-preparing-for-denver-kindergarten-registration.

Photo by kyo azuma on Unsplash

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