Moving to a new area is hard work, especially if you are a parent or plan to be one in the near future. Aside from choosing a house that is the perfect size and layout, you have to consider your surroundings, including the school district that your children will attend. Before you sign on the dotted line, you should know what to look for to make sure that your children are happy, safe, and well educated based on the area that you decide to move.
Determine your Child’s Needs
The first step is to take a look at your child(ren) and figure out what they need out of a school district. Do you have mainstream students that would do well just about anywhere or do you have students that have individual needs that need to be met in order to make their school experience a success? A few things to consider include:
- What size classroom would your child do best in? Does he need small classrooms with individualized attention or does he do fine in slightly larger classes?
- What type of curriculum does the school focus on? If you have a child with affection for math or language arts, you might want to focus on a school that provides emphasis in those areas in particular.
- What types of extracurricular activities does your child enjoy? Is there something he is really passionate about? If so, looking for schools that offer these types of activities will help your child feel like he fits in.
Thinking about your child’s needs does not mean just looking at his scholastic abilities, but what will help him feel like he belongs at the new school, rather than feeling like an outcast.
Do your Homework
Once you have an idea of what your child needs, you should start doing your homework. There are various websites, such as globalreportcard.org and greatschools.org that can help you determine the school district’s strength and weaknesses. The websites report things like scholastic achievement levels in various subjects as well as the breakdown of gender and race at each school. Researching on these websites will give you a chance to have an inside look at what school districts have to offer in order to narrow down your choices.
Check them out in Person
The only true way to know if a school will be a good fit for your child is to tour the school itself. You can do this at any time in your child’s life. For example, if you have a toddler, it is perfectly acceptable to talk to the school district and request a tour of the elementary, middle, and high school even though it will be many years before your child is in attendance there. When you visit these different schools you can get an idea of the environment, type of teaching that goes on, and the culture that your child would be exposed to on a daily basis. Obviously, if you have an older child, you will have a better idea of what your child needs and will pay closer attention to specific details, but do not be afraid to tour every school at every age level to know what you are getting into for the future as children grow up fast and they will need those older schools before you know it!
Look at all of your School District Options
If you find that you do not like the public school options in the area you think you want to move, do not be afraid to check out the private school options. Many areas have charter schools and private schools for every budget. Only you know what your child needs and where he would do the best – if that means a private school, then you can adjust your housing choices accordingly, purchasing a home that will leave you with extra money to pay for special schooling for your child.
Choosing the right school district should play a large role in your decision to purchase a home. The house itself and the neighborhood are important factors, but if your child is not getting the right type of education, it can make even the best home seem unpleasant. Once you know the general area you want to live, really give consideration to the school district in the area before you start searching for homes so that you know you will be happy with all aspects of living there.
Justin McHood is America's Mortgage Commentator and has been providing expert mortgage analysis for over 10 years.