Checklist: What to look for on a grade school visit

Choices abound when it comes to picking the right elementary school for a child with learning and thinking differences. This list might help you narrow things down.

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How is the school environment?

  • The student-teacher ratio is reasonable.

  • I know and agree with the school’s policy on handling behavior problems.

  • The school actively works to prevent and deal with bullying.

  • The school is safe and clean.

  • Very few students are expelled or suspended; violence is rare.

  • The school has a good policy for dealing with sick children.

  • The school won’t let anyone take my child out of school without my permission.

  • Afterschool childcare and afterschool sports, clubs, and programs are available.

  • The school grounds are secure and the neighborhood is safe.

  • The school has a gym, a playground, and a playing field for physical activities.

What is the staff like?

  • The school has a psychologist, a speech therapist, and an occupational therapist on staff.

  • Teachers and specialists are trained to recognize and work well with children who have learning and thinking differences.

  • They know how to deal with discipline and behavior issues and have a written policy.

  • There’s not a lot of staff turnover.

  • Teachers seem knowledgeable and pleasant.

Does it feel right for my child?

  • The school offers a supportive environment and has the proper resources.

  • The school can serve my child’s special learning needs.

  • The method of teaching at the school works well with my child’s learning strengths.

  • General education and teachers work together.

Does it work for me?

  • The school is near my home, or it’s convenient for my child to get to.

  • The school hours fit my schedule.

  • I like the policy for watching my child’s progress and keeping me informed.

  • There are parent-teacher conferences as needed.

  • I’m welcome or encouraged to be involved at the school and volunteer.

What are the academics like?

  • A reasonable amount of homework is given.

  • The school has high expectations for all students.

  • Assistive technology is available for learning needs.

  • The school scores well on standardized tests.

  • The school has a library, a music and arts program, and a computer lab.

  • Children do well in middle school after they leave this school.


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