Step 1 – Find the School
Whether you are looking at a public, private, homeschool, charter or combination of them, finding a school can be a stressful experience. When looking for a school we recommend you start at GreatSchools.org. That will offer insight into standardized test scores and help you start narrowing your field of options.
But take it a step further. When looking at potential schools, consider what classes are available, class sizes, immersion programs, extracurricular activities and more. A school that has a lower rating on GreatSchools with an incredible robotics program might be the perfect fit for your engineer-to-be. Keep an open mind when looking for schools and realize that a lower ranking on GreatSchools doesn’t mean it’s a “bad” school.
Step 2 – Calculate Your Commute
We say “your” commute because until your kid can drive and has a car, how they get to school will be your responsibility. But their modes of commuting can include walking, riding a bike, riding a bus or having you drive.
When considering schools, get on Google Maps and calculate drive times to each school (don’t forget to put in the correct timeframes). Also look into the transportation options offered by each school. Is there a regular bus service? A shuttle bus? What time will your student be picked up and dropped off each day? How long will they have to spend on the bus? These can have a major impact on your student’s day. And don’t forget carpooling which is a great way to make friends in your new neighborhood!
Step 3 – Consider Class Sizes
Class size and student to teacher ratio is more important to some people than others. Again, this consideration comes down to the needs of your child. Many would prefer smaller class sizes and more teachers, but some kids are more resilient in larger class sizes. It’s a good idea to call and verify the average class size, as information online can sometimes be inaccurate.
Step 4 – Look for Special Offerings
These are like your neighborhood amenities. They are additional offerings at the school that can make a real difference in the type of education your child receives and the quality of experience they have while attending school there. These are things like how long recess is, what type of music programs are available, the variety of art programs, the diversity of PE classes, the availability of foreign language classes and more. Are there opportunities to play a sport or be in a club? This is an important consideration because it gives your student the connection point they need to make new friends and adjust to their environment.
Step 5 – Write Out The Pros and Cons
Every school will have its pros and cons. Schools have personalities, just like people! And some personality quirks you can live with, while others you just can get past. Take some time to jot down the pros and cons of each school you consider. This will help you make a decision when it comes time to look at the big picture.
We hope this short overview helps give you a head start on finding the right school for your kids. We know this is a challenging task. But with our “School Comparison Sheet” and the “Child School Needs” sheet we know you’ll have the right tools to make the most educated decision. You can download those two sheets along with the full comparison guide here.