School Shopping 101

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2019 still feels shiny and new, but for families with school aged children it’s prime time to begin checking out educational options in anticipation for Fall. Take a drive through town and you will see brightly colored signs indicating open enrollment, open houses and other events bringing attention to the fact that yes, it IS that time!

Having options is fantastic, but it also means you need to do your homework before committing. Every child is different and every family has unique needs. Taking time to reflect on those needs before casting a broad net in search for the best educational fit is vital. Once options are narrowed, start asking the tough questions!

Here are just a few common questions I receive as the admissions director at Williamsburg Christian Academy. Use these questions to help shape your discussion points when interviewing a school to see if it’s the best fit for your family.

What is the school’s missions and vision?

This is low hanging fruit. If your family values don’t align with a school’s mission and vision, it’s probably not the school for you. Always start here.

What is the school’s approach to learning?

Every child learns differently. It is important to ask about the approach the prospective school takes in the learning process. Each school is a little (or a lot) different in this regard, and that’s great because not every learning environment is the best fit for every child.

What does a typical day look like?

This is a wonderful way to walk through what a typical day looks like as it would pertain to your child. Different educational philosophies and school cultures will result in different day structures. Ask about resource classes. Does every child get to experience art, PE, recess, music, library and media time? Don’t take for granted these opportunities are available at every school…. they aren’t!

What sort of extracurricular / athletic activities does your school offer?

If you child is wild about the arts, but there is no art room or drama production, you might want to keep looking. Same thing goes for athletics, student government, clubs and activities, etc. Don’t stop there, ask how available these opportunities are to each student attending the school.

What are the facilities like?

If a school offers athletics and extracurricular activities, does the physical space support those programs? Check out the school’s athletic fields, gymnasium, auditorium, music room and any other space where students might be found during or after school.

Is your school accredited?

Accreditation equals accountability in the areas of curriculum, instruction, financials, teacher qualifications, policies and procedures and the list goes on. A school that commits the resources and time to go through the rigorous process of accreditation every five to seven years is a school that cares about self-reflection and continuous improvement.

Can I take a tour of the school during the school day?

Go see the school in person. You can tell a lot about the culture and health of a school simply by walking through the halls. A school can put its best foot forward online, but the proof is truly in the pudding, and you don’t get to taste the pudding without visiting the school. Do you live out of country or state? Ask for a tour via Skype or FaceTime!

Do you feel better equipped to go out and find the perfect school for you and yours? Trick question – there IS NO perfect school. People run schools and I’ve yet to meet a perfect person. The question you want to answer is, “Have we found the school that most aligns with our family’s unique needs?” Please ask as many questions as you need to arrive at this conclusion when interviewing a school. If an admissions officer or school faculty/staff member appears annoyed with your questions….RUN! Every family and child deserves a supportive learning environment where your questions and concerns are valued.

Happy school searching!

Cassie Bradshaw, WCA Admissions
Direct Line: 757-378-5263 / Email:

Cassie Bradshaw is the Admissions Director and Development Coordinator at Williamsburg Christian Academy. She graduated from WCA in 2002 and is thankful for the opportunity to serve on staff in support of the school. Cassie’s two sons, Connor and Samuel, are equally thankful to have mom in the same building (for now).

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