How To Find The Best Schools

January 16, 2019

So just how do you find the right school when choosing a new home?

As if finding the right home for the right price wasn’t hard enough, just how do you find the right school for your children?

Wow, as if finding the right home for the right price wasn’t hard enough, just how do you find the right school for your children? As a 24-year veteran military spouse of a now retired Coast Guard officer, I raised three boys while moving every 2-3 years nationally and in Europe. The boys are now approaching the end of their high school years and one in college. Even in our most recent move, schools were the priority. I can honestly say we survived and are thriving because of the skills we mastered from learning to adjust to new places. Exposures to new ways of living can only help them prepare for a full life without fear of change.

As soon as I knew we’d be moving, I was scouring the internet for information. Everyone has seen the websites that grade schools. I trust them only to a certain extent. There is always a human factor in everything we do, so a less than perfect grade is acceptable to me. I have been in “10” schools and have had major issues… these grades only show part of the culture of a school. We wound up moving away from a highly rated school to another county that had better services for my son with a learning disability. I have honestly had teachers be so snooty, they did not want my sweet boy in their room.

Try to stick with objective information and avoid negativity.

Look through social media and into some local parent groups for the school district you are considering. Find out from other parents (with a grain of salt) about priorities for your child. Try to stick with objective information and avoid negativity. If they are into sports, seek out information and see how you feel from the other parents in this arena. Academics, clubs, after-school care, boy and girl scouts, transportation… these are all factors affecting your quality of life as a parent too. I have had locations where I could not work since I was the primary driver to all the events, to and from school, etc. I later found out that traveling East to West in the town I was in was double the time of going North and South. This greatly impacted the location of our home and we wound up moving a year later.

Starting with the county website, I highly recommend calling the school district you have narrowed down to with a list of prepared questions. Confirm what you have asked the other parents about transportation, clubs, etc. Also, find out about any times you may be able to take a tour. If you are flying into a new area for house hunting, add 1-3 days on to the trip to tour the schools of choice before looking at houses. This will ease your fears and solidify the choices you are making in finding the right home. After all, the location of your home sets the tone of your lifestyle.

I have often learned a great deal about the culture just by reading between the lines while asking for information.

If you have a child with special needs, a phone call and discussion with the county special education department head can give you a lot of insight even though they are bound to federal laws and should all have similar answers. I have often learned a great deal about the culture just by reading between the lines while asking for information. Ask about programming, speech services, OT, whatever your needs are. Also, ask about special education curriculum and things like “Are the students provided with the same curriculum as their general education peers?”. I had one school I was in that the special education kids did not have a science curriculum. Ask, “What is a typical day like for a child in ___ grade?”. When calling to schedule your tour of the school, you can ask to meet some of the staff in this department as well.

When researching private schools, consider why you would like to choose a private school and create a list of priorities. This list will guide you in asking questions. Learn from each interview what to ask of the next school, and don’t be afraid to revisit. Consider transportation as well as all the other considerations mentioned in this post for any school. Financial aid and tuition costs will need to be added to the monthly budget to and considered when finalizing your choice for the new home budget.

All the above applies to the local colleges as well. My last move involved this consideration with a 19-year-old at home. The different phases in your child’s lives bring new and exciting challenges for designing your future… your future will be better if your kids are happy, healthy, and successful in their school.

Above all… Trust your instincts as you research.

Being a proactive parent in these cases may feel stressful in the house hunting process but will greatly ease your fears when switching schools. You may even find some summer activities in the area with opportunities to meet other kids and their parents before the school year starts.

Above all… Trust your instincts as you research. You know your family the best! What matters most is a balanced, happy life.

Annie Rocks is a REALTOR® and designer loving life in Tampa Bay! Married since 1995 to USCG Ret. LCDR Kevin Rocks, they raised three boys while traveling the world. Moving and supporting his deployments, Annie has refined her expertise in designing one’s life/home. With a creative background in service areas of business, she eventually studied Interior Architecture and Design and holds a New Construction Specialist designation. Annie understands the importance of how much your home impacts your lifestyle working with sellers and buyers of all income levels from first timers to luxury estates.

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