What to consider when choosing a school district

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School with magnifineglass over itBy its very definition, parenting is hard work.From changing all those diapers and suffering through all those sleepless nightsin the beginning to packing that very first lunchbox, the labor of love is endless.So, it makes sense that entrusting the kiddos to the care of others for ahuge chunk of each weekday feels like kind of an awfully big deal.At Moveline, we’ve helped families move across town,across state lines and acrossmultiple time zones, and it’s pretty evident that when it comes to moving with kids in tow,choosing the right school district is paramount on most parents’ lists of things to do.

Whether you’re considering a new neighborhood or a new region of the country,we’ve got some basics to help you determine where your childrenshould do the bulk of their reading, writing and ‘rithmetic:

School district rankings

While there are undoubtedly a great number of factors that should be consideredwhen choosing a school district -- and, therefore, a school -- it’s probably wisestto start with the basics. The website globalreportcard.org ranks school districtsacross the US by comparing the math and reading achievement levels of the average studentin each district compared with 25 other developed nations.In mathematics, for example, only nine percent of school districts can count themselvesamong the top third of the overall sample... so in order for your kids to attendschools with stellar curricula, you might need to do some digging and be very, very choosy.Luckily, you can do a state-by-state academic searchon the web to narrow down your optionsthough Global Report Card and other helpful sites like greatschools.org.

Individual needs

Once you’ve determined which districts are the most suitable in the areayou’re moving to, considering your kids’ individual learning styles,talents and tastes can help focus your search even further.Got a shy, introverted son in elementary school who learns best in small groupswith lots of guidance from an instructor? Clearly, an overcrowded classroomisn’t the ideal place for him (or probably any kid, for that matter).Your middle school daughter’s a whiz at both biology and clarinet?A school with a balance of sciences and liberal arts in itscurriculum -- or perhaps a magnet school dedicated to the sciencesbut boasting a great music program -- is exactly what to look for.

With budget cuts taking quite a bite out of extracurricular activities nationwide,checking out the local community is key when considering a public school;are there outside influences like parent groups and nonprofit organizationsthat work to pick up where those cuts left off within the school you’re considering?If so, that’s definitely something to focus on closely...and it’s nothing a little Googling can’t uncover.

Types of schools

If the public schools in your new district just don’t cut the mustard,or you’ve got your own personal reasons for wanting to steer clear of them,there are a number of other potentially viable options ranging from traditional private schoolsto the more hybrid variety of charter schools, and even home schooling.This highly personal choice comes down to matters of finance, philosophy,and institutional availability, and the only person who should truly be involved in this choiceis you -- the parents. For some insight on the matter, check out GreatSchools’take on how to make a decision between public and private school or something in-between.

Taking a tour

If it’s possible to take a personal tour of the schools you’re most closely considering,by all means, take advantage of the opportunity.Once you’ve done your homework (pun intended) and narrowed down your choices,consider following GreatSchools’ guidelines for taking a tour of your child’s potentialnew school and arm yourself with the right questions to ask,the smartest things to look for during your walk-through and the most effective waysto evaluate whether it’s right for your family or not.

In the end, gut instinct is a powerful thing -- the most important thing you can dois listen to it and weigh it against all the data you’ve been reviewing.Because the bottom line is this: as a parent, the buck stops at you.Despite what your highly-opinionated toddler or teenager might think, the choice is yours.The good news is, you’ve got plenty of tools at your disposal to help you choose wiselyand make a decision you (and hopefully the kids, too) are comfortable with.

Whether you’re moving with one kid or twelve, the process can be kind of a nightmareif you let it. Fortunately, Moveline can help ease the stress bysimplifying the inventory process, gathering quotes from reputable movers on your behalf,and overseeing the entire move from beginning to end... and the best part is, we’re free.So don’t go it alone. Let us help. Making a move easier is the exact reason we’re here.