Finding the right school for your children can seem like a daunting task, however it just takes a little homework. The Aitken Home Team
presents six steps for selecting a great school in your new neighborhood:
1. - Look Beyond Test Scores
Just as you would not purchase a new home based only on photos, you should not choose a new school based solely on test scores and student-teacher ratios. As you research education options, keep in mind that most
reported test scores do not provide insight into educational aspects beyond math and English. Furthermore, statistics do not reflect the teaching of critical thinking skills and opportunities best suited to your child. Your best bet is to
select a school which fits the needs of your child whether charter, public or private. All schools have strengths and weaknesses. They key is to choose that which most closely fits your child's needs and wants.
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2. - Enjoy Your Tour
Once you've narrowed your list of school prospects, be sure to schedule individual tours for each contender. If you are told that you cannot visit, cross that particular option off the list. You want to be sure
that teachers and principals are easily accessible. A school that denies you a tour for whatever reason is not a likely healthy candidate for your child's education.
Be sure to take in a class or two and take notes on teaching styles and note whether the teacher is approachable. Study student engagement during class time as well as how the teachers interact with students. Note whether or not student
work is displayed in classrooms or hallways and ask the students for their opinions of their school: their favorite subject, best teacher, sports, etc. Observe the cleanliness of the school. Is there trash on the floors and graffiti on
the walls or is the facility fairly clean? If you see something in need of remodeling, inquire as to the future plans for revamping and cleaning up a bit.
3. - Observe Surroundings
If at all possible, attend a school board meeting to further learn about the district in which your are hoping to educate your child. Pay attention as to whether parents are in attendance to discuss problems versus
solutions and chat with parents at a PTA meeting.
Learn about the demographics of the student population and whether or not your child will have the privilege of experiencing diversity. Check out sports programs as schools can offer diversity via those avenues as well.
4. - Consider the Long Haul
Your child might be five today, however they will be fifteen tomorrow. Know what your child's middle and high schools are like and what they have to look forward to. Electing to live in a neighborhood because
the elementary school is awesome is fine, however you need to make sure the middle and high schools are equally awesome unless you plan to move again.
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5. - Residency Rules
Be sure to understand the boundaries for selecting schools. For example, your home could be in one district, but your neighbor's address could be apart of another district. Such boundaries are subject to change,
so contact your local school district to make sure you are choosing correctly based on your address.
6. - Parent Engagement
Look for a school that you, as a parent, feel welcome. If you feel comfortable enough to get involved at your child's school, you can better keep a handle on what's going on. Good schools welcome the involvement
of parents and express appreciation for such involvement.
Regardless of your final choice, your homework will likely pay off and you can rest easy knowing you made a good choice.