Finding the right home in the right neighborhood is always a challenge for a home buyer. Parents with school-age children have even more to consider when it comes to picking “Location! Location! Location!”
When you’re moving within your own region, you already have knowledge of the school district’s reputation. If you’re moving farther, you need to take the time to consider various factors when choosing a school. Here are some questions to ask yourself and the schools.
- What type of learning environment is best for my child? No one knows your child better than you. Determine whether she will thrive in a small or large classroom, needs a particular type of curriculum (structured versus non-structured, liberal arts, faith-based), or would benefit from a school that offers bilingual education.
- Does the town support the school? The town’s annual report will show how much of the tax dollars are spent on education. Look at the spending per pupil to determine how deeply the town is committed to education. A properly funded school will have up-to-date computers and technology, a library of diverse resources, proper sporting equipment, and a well-maintained campus.
- What services are offered? A school that employs a full complement of staffing—including on-site nurse, resource officer, librarian, and guidance counselors—is better equipped to provide a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment.
- What extra-curricular programs are available? The classroom is just one part of the overall education experience. Extra-curricular programs, like clubs and sports teams, provide valuable learning for young people. If your child is an avid lacrosse player, for example, and the school you’re considering doesn’t have a team, then you might want to look elsewhere for the right school.
- Does the district offer school choice? Having the ability to choose from more than one school for your child is a benefit. Some districts have a lottery where a certain number of students can attend a different school that better suits their needs. If you have a child who is musically inclined, the possibility of enrolling him in a magnet school for the performing arts may be just what you want.
- How does this school’s rating compare locally, regionally, and nationally? Visit GreatSchools.org to view a detailed report on the schools in the area you’re considering, including parent reviews. Keep in mind that all schools - whether they are rated highly or not - often have special tracks for either highly skilled students or those with special needs that are excellent. Don’t let a single score scare you from making the best choice for your child.
Once you have done all of this advance research, you can take the extra step to schedule a tour of each school to see and sense the environment for yourself.