If you’re preparing to make a move to a new home, you already know that it’s a monumental decision in one’s life. It becomes even more significant if you have children who are (or will soon be) of school age.
Whether they’re already enrolled in school or their school career is just around the corner, moving house is one of the most impactful moments that can happen in any child’s life. You can make the transition easier by ensuring that their new school measures up.
Regardless of your preference for public or private school, there are a number of important factors to consider when deciding where to move. Even if you’re locked in to a generalgeographic location because of your job requirements, you can examine all of the schools – at least from a distance – in that area before setting up house.
Try to keep the following things in mind as you seek out your child(ren)’s new school:
- Make a wish list. Together with your child, make a written list of the qualities you and they would love to have in a school. For example: specific instructional styles, size of the school, class size, learning structure, grading system, diversity, extra-curricular activities and specific class offerings like languages. Use this list to refer to as you consider each school.
- Look at school performance records. In addition to ticking off items on your wish list, it’s also important to investigate how well a potential school compares in terms of test scores, college readiness, attendance and parent reviews.
- Visit the top contenders. If possible, once you have your list narrowed down to a manageable number, your best next move is to physically pay a visit to each remaining option. Without actually seeing the school in action, you can miss important nuances and details about the administration, staff and students that you simply can’t glean from a distance.
- Ask other parents. This may prove to be a challenge, but if you’re able to make a visit to the school, ask the principal if there are any parents who you may contact to learn more. Additionally, if you already know anyone who lives in the area, see if they happen to have any friends or relatives with children who attend the school in question. You may even be able to use your professional network to connect with the right people, especially if the move is related to your job.
- Focus on the big picture. While we definitely advocate for doing your due diligence when it comes to picking out a new school system for your child, the big picture is more important than tiny little minutiae that may cause some hesitation. Keep in mind that every school will probably have at least something that is less-than-optimal, but your goal should be to have its ‘Pros’ list outnumber its ‘Cons’ list.