Moving for the School District: How to Find the Right School for Your Kids  

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Finding a best-fit school can make or break your family’s transition to a new home. That said, armed with the right information and a plan, you can make the search successful and the start of a whole new adventure your child. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, they’re not being taught online, nor are they being home schooled. Now, let’s explore ways to make this important transition successful. 

Set Down Some Baselines  

Just like you have a list, or an idea in mind, of  what to look for when buying a house, the same technique can be used to establish a few ground rules about finding the right school for your kid. For example: 

  • Would you be most comfortable with a traditional classroom approach or would a less formalized or alternative education experience be appropriate?  
  • Does the school offer options such as AP classes, foreign language studies, an art program or similar opportunities that will help your child shine? 
  • How important are extracurricular activities? Is your child currently on a sports team, in the band or in a club?  
  • How involved do you want to be with the programs and curricula provided by the school? Do you see yourself involved with the PTA or PTO? 
  • What’s an acceptable teacher/student ratio? 
  • How will your kids get to school? An amazing school isn’t helpful if you can’t get your child there easily every day. 

Think About Where Your Kid Would Thrive 

Beyond the above baselines, take a deep breath and go deeper. Think about your child’s strengths, weaknesses, interests and personality. Certain schools may be better suited for children with special needs or talents. And it’s also important to consider that what’s a wonderful environment  for an outgoing, confident child may be intimidating to a child with a shy nature. This is where a personal visit can be extremely useful (see below). 

Go Online 

Tools like GreatSchools.org, and SchoolDigger.com can help you pare the list of suitable schools down to a few faves worth exploring deeper. In particular check out the parent reviews and  compare their responses to the responses of the school faculty and administrators. If there’s a consistently noticeable gap, this could be a red flag.  

That you should visit the school’s website goes without saying. Also see it it’s possible to check out the school’s newsletter, recent PTA meeting notes and activities they’re planning on the school calendar. And while you’re at see if they have posted a mission statement that aligns with your values. 

Contact Schools Directly 

Now that you’ve done the online research, reach out to the schools under consideration and ask them to mail you any printed material they have. See if you can obtain your kid’s school records ahead of time and provide this information to any schools you might be considering. If possible, schedule a tour of each school on your short list and ask to speak with teachers, administrators and even the crossing guard. And trust your own judgment, too. As a parent, you’ve no doubt acquired a firm opinion about the type of environment that will best support your child’s growth 

Make It Easy on the Kids 

Leaving behind familiar surroundings, friendships and routines can be especially tough on kids. Make the move a family experience and involve your kids in the moving process as much as possible. Let them help pack up their old rooms and pick out their new ones. If you can, visit the new neighborhood ahead of time and explore some of its best features and attractions. Above all, be patient and empathetic. Remember, a move is something that happens TO kids and there can be a whole variety of responses to this reality. Put yourself in your kid’s shoes, try to understand what they’re going through and support them in this new adventure any way you can. 

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