Looking for a new school?

When moving with children, one of the most important factors in deciding where to move is what school your children will attend. Your children will learn, meet new friends, and become who they are at school. Picking a good one is a big deal.

Schools vary widely in a number of respects, and choosing the best one for your child requires doing some research. Here’s what you should consider:

Types of Schools

Before picking out a school, you should decide what type of school is right for your child. There are four basic types of schools, all with different focuses: public schools, liberal-arts schools, religious schools and special needs schools.

Public schools – These schools have a basic curriculum focused on sciences, writing and math. They usually teach materials found at other public schools across the state, and they provide children with a general background in a number of important subjects.  However, they do not teach religion and their focus on the arts can be limited.  Also, while all public schools have special needs programs, some have stronger special needs programs than others.

Liberal-arts schools – Some private schools have a distinct focus towards teaching their students to think creatively and to embrace the arts. These schools still teach basic skills, but they devote more time to abstract subjects than public schools. Some focus on particular art forms or trades.

Religious schools – Some private schools focus on teaching the concepts of a particular religion to students. Like liberal arts schools, they still teach basic skills; however, they devote significant time to religious teachings as well.

Special needs – While all public schools provide for students with special needs, there are schools uniquely devoted to particular special needs, like hearing impairment, which could greatly help a child flourish.

Other Considerations

Beyond the type of school, you should consider a number of other factors when choosing a school:

  • Price – Public schools are basically free, only requiring a small fee, which can be waived in certain cases. However, private schools usually carry modest to expensive price tags.
  • Reputation & Credentials – Most states have ranking systems for their public schools, which you can check out. There are also national rankings of schools. Rankings only go so far, though. You should contact local families to see what their impressions of the school are.
  • Specialties & Amenities – All schools have different amenities and services. Some have swimming pools, others have state-of-the-art computer labs, and still others have access to museums and libraries.
  • Class size – Many public schools suffer from overcrowding. Check your school’s statistics to see how many students are in each class.  If the average is well over 20 students per class, you should be wary.
  • Location – See what the school’s surrounding neighborhood is like. Also, consider how long a commute to the school would take.
  • Public Transit – All public schools offer bus systems, but some private schools do not.

Observing the School

After you’ve narrowed down your decision to a particular school, you should talk to school administrators and pick out a time to observe the school in action. Perhaps you can even sit in on a class. Bring your child, if possible, and see how they react to the school. Here are some signs of a good school:

  • Disciplined students
  • Engaging activities and lessons
  • Cleanliness
  • Promotion of exercise and healthy eating
  • Intimate class sizes

Choosing a School After You’ve Moved

If you’ve already moved, your options for public schools will be limited. Public schools are separated by school districts, which dictate who must attend what school. Without a pressing concern, a parent will not be able to choose a public school outside their school district for their child.

If you don’t like the public school in your district, you can consider the various private schools throughout the area. These schools are not affected by school districts and can be attended by anyone willing to pay for tuition.

When they’re not in class, learn how to help your kids explore your new hometown.