The process of packing and moving is only one of the many steps required when you have to move. If you’re a parent, a primary focus is to find the best schools for your child, to help him/her transition into their new neighborhood, establish new friendships, and continue their academic journey with as little disruption as possible.
Where To Start Your Search For The Best Schools
If you’re planning a move and you have children, read our post on How To Make Your Next Move Easier For the Kids for tips on how to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Is the move relatively local?
If you are planning a smaller move, one that takes you within a few hours’ drive, it’s worth taking some time to drive to your new neighborhood and visit prospective schools. Most schools offer school tours or informational nights for the parents of prospective students.
If you’re able to take advantage of those, you’ll be able to get an in-person perspective and feel for the school’s strengths and weaknesses, the programs they offer, the after school activities they offer, and whether it’s a good potential fit for your child.
Think about what’s important to you (and your child)
Realtor.com states that 78% of homebuyers and renters relax their own preferences (yard, garage, etc.) in order to choose a home near desirable schools. Some of the most frequently cited hallmarks of a “good school” include:
- High test scores
- Accelerated (GATE) program offerings
- Arts and music programs
- After school programs
- STEM or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) offerings
- Public transportation to/from
Keep your child and his/her interests in mind, though. For example, high test scores may indicate a certain level of average academic achievement, but there is no way to score how a school holds the social/emotional well-being of their students. if your child isn’t interested in academics and doesn’t test into an accelerated program, that’s less relevant to you.
Arts and music programs may be essential to your child feeling at home, or s/he may prefer a school with less emphasis on creative processes and more emphasis on athletics. Your child may prefer a school known for its teacher-held, strict, routine or s/he might fare better with more independent, hands-on learning opportunities.
Read between the lines if you can to get a sense of the school, its administration, and the teachers. Then, reach out to them via email, phone, or in-person and see if the values and ideals put forth on the school’s website seems in alignment with how the faculty is “in real life.”
Is your older student college-bound?
If you have a middle school or high school student who is excited to go directly into college, look for high schools that offer college prep and advanced placement courses. Some also offer dual enrollment programs, where students take more challenging courses offered by a nearby JC or online program that fulfill high school graduation requirements while simultaneously counting as college credit. These credits can be transferred to their college down the road, reducing the time they need to spend in college, allowing them to more easily pursue a double-major, or save you money by reducing college tuition.
Use online tools and resources
Visit prospective school websites and take a look around. The website images and wording should resonate with you and convey a sense that your child will feel at home there.
There are multiple, third-party school evaluators that post their findings and school stats online, and you can also use these to evaluate prospective schools. Examples of these include greatschools.org or Parents for Public Schools.
Many schools have their own social media accounts, or spin-off accounts set up by the parent body. Visit those sites, or call the school and ask if they’re aware of any parent-specific social media accounts or forums where you can connect with the community.
Contact the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO)
Connecting with a school’s PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) is another way to learn more about your school, as well as others in the community. Many families have children in different schools, depending on their child’s needs and interests, and a school’s particular strength.
By chatting online with parents at one school, you might find out there’s another school out there more suited to your child and your family.
Ask your landlord and future neighbors which are the best schools
Whether you’re communicating directly with the landlord or a management company, you’ll be speaking with locals who are familiar with the area and may have experience or insights regarding the schools in your area.
Your new neighbors may also have helpful things to share about schools in the area and their own experiences. The conversation about children, schools, and family values are always a great way to get to know the people in your new neighborhood, helping you feel more at home once you’re all moved in.
Move Stress-Free With Us
Are you planning a move in the near future? Contact Jay’s Moves for affordable, stress-free moving services that give you more time to settle in and learn more about the best schools for your child.