When it’s time to upgrade to a new home, there are always a lot of moving pieces to figure out. When will you sell your current home? Will you move yourself or hire movers? What time of year is best for such a big change?
But for parents of school-aged kids, one of the most significant factors in a move is ensuring that your children will be joining a good school district. Of course, in some less-populated areas of the country, residents don’t get a choice of school districts. Meanwhile, in larger cities and towns, parents often have a chance to do a bit of research and find one that feels right for their family.
If you’re just starting the process of finding your next home, you luckily have the freedom to move into your ideal district. The trick, of course, is homing in on what is most important for you and your kids.
Narrowing Down Your Options
As you evaluate school districts, be sure to keep the following factors in mind:
The district’s rating. It can be helpful to compare various districts by their ratings on sites like Niche.com, SchoolDigger.com, and GreatSchools.org. Reviews from other parents can help you discover potential shortcomings in a given district or can help you home in on the key strengths of another.
Of course, ratings don’t always tell the whole story. Keep in mind that even the highest-rated district still might not be the best for your children. It’s also important to take into account the other factors that might impact their success at a given district.
Academic programs. Check to see if a district offers the classes and supplemental learning programs your kids need to be successful. At the middle and high school levels, this might include honors and AP classes and college prep courses. At all levels, investigate the gifted education program. Finally, if your child has an IEP plan or Section 504 plan, be sure to ask about the district’s special education classes and support services.
Extracurricular activities. Consider your children’s interests (or potential future interests), including sports, clubs, and student government. You’ll want to ensure your school district has strong and diverse extracurricular programs—especially as your kids get older and college applications become important, because involvement in these types of activities can really help differentiate a student.
Use of technology. Today’s students should be interacting with digital technology on a daily basis, because it will be an integral part of their college experiences and adult lives. As you explore districts, ask teachers and administrators how technology is leveraged inside and outside of the classroom. The district you select doesn’t necessarily have to be the most high-tech, but it at least needs to prioritize digital technology in education.
Quality of teachers. A single teacher can make or break a student’s school year, so it’s important to find a district that values high-quality teachers. This can be difficult to investigate, but social media is a good place to start. Look up the district’s Facebook page and see if teachers are actively engaging in discussions, event planning, and brainstorming. This is another area in which rankings and reviews can be helpful in getting a general idea of teacher quality.
The parent–teacher organization. If you’re the type of parent who wants to be actively involved in your children’s schooling, be sure to seek out districts with robust parent–teacher organizations. This will give you plenty of opportunities to help your kids—and their teachers and fellow students—by pitching in with community events, tutoring programs, volunteering, and more.
Finding Your Ideal District
For parents of school-aged children, one of the perks of choosing a custom home is the opportunity to find land in your ideal school district. Going the custom route gives you freedom to build in an area where your kids will have access to the best education, as well as the extracurricular and academic programs that will suit their goals and interests.
Ready to start narrowing down your school district options? Reach out to your local Adair Homes branch to be connected with a Realtor who specializes in your area.