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Moving the Family – How to Look for the Right School District

Moving with children comes with it’s own set of obstacles. There are so many things to consider when house hunting, one of the most important of which is where your child will be going to school.

Your move will mean a lot of changes in your kid’s life. As parents, you’re likely already worrying about how to make the transition go as smoothly as possible. One way to make the move a positive experience is to make sure everyone is happy with their new school. We know that picking a school district can feel overwhelming, so we’ve got some tips for where to start.

#1 — Get out the Map

You’re moving for a reason, and it’s likely not to send your kid to one specific school. Your family is either relocating for a job, moving to be closer to relatives, or needing a home that better fits your current and future needs.

Whatever your reason, you probably have a general area in mind already. Get out a map (or pull one up online) and determine your search radius based on distance from work, family, etc. Once you have an idea of what locations are within your search parameter, you can research which school districts serve those neighborhoods. (Great Schools is an easy to use search platform for this.)

#2 — Think Long Term

If you have several options for school districts, don’t just pick based on one school. Regardless of how long you think you will be calling this house home, there is always a chance you will end up living here longer than you think.

Try to think in terms of the overall school system. If there is an elementary school with excellent test scores, but the high school in that district doesn’t have a music program for your talented drummer or a basketball team for your budding athlete, it’s probably not going to be the best choice long term.

#3 — Money, Travel, and Time

Living within a school district boundary does not necessarily mean that you’re off the hook when it comes to getting your little ones to and from school.

Start times can vary widely between schools, bus routes may be long, and transportation for after school events will likely be your responsibility. Keep in mind how the school location and schedule will work with the rest of your family’s work and travel obligations.

#4 — Ask Questions

If you’re unsure, take a tour and talk to people! Just asking around the neighborhood playground will give you a good idea of parents’ experiences with the school. And you can be sure that moms and dads who have had bad experiences will be honest with you about their interactions with school officials and other parents.

And if you have a choice, don’t make a final decision before visiting the school in person. First hand experience of the atmosphere and environment will tell you more than any picture or website ever could.

#5 — You Know Your Children Best

You know your kids’ personalities better than anyone. As their parents, you know what they need to grow. They may really need positive social engagement, or academic support, or diverse extracurricular programs. School’s performance and test scores often fluctuate quite a bit over the years. Try to consider all the ways in which schools support students and make the decision that works best for your family.

While making the move to a new school district can be stressful, knowing that you’ve done your research and come to an informed decision will make finding the right home that much more rewarding.

Happy house hunting!

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