Ditch the Rankings – Here’s How to Find the Best School for Your Family

Aug 24, 2022

There’s no best school. Only the best school for your kids.

Many families are focused on finding a neighborhood in a “top” school district. We get it – we all want our kids to be set up for success. But just because a school district ranks #1, doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best school for your crew. No two learners are the same, and that means a great school for one kid may not be spot-on for another. 

So what should you consider when you’re exploring suburban schools? Focus on what’s most important to you and your family – unique considerations, learning styles, and experiences you want for your kids’ K-12 time. Start here. 

#1. School and Class Sizes

What size classroom will help your kids thrive? Some students do well in a larger environment but others need more individualized attention. Look into the student-teacher ratio to get a better sense of the schools you are considering.

School size factors into more than just classroom numbers. Larger schools may offer more extracurricular and academic programs, and give your kids exposure to more people. On the flip side, though, a smaller school environment may be more comfortable or manageable for some. There’s no right or wrong answer – it’s all about what is going to be best for your child.

Some towns have one elementary, one middle and one high school – so kids stay with the same group of students from K-12. Other districts may have several elementary schools, filtering into one or more middle schools and high schools. This presents a range of social settings. Would you like your children to travel through their years with the same group? Would meeting a broader population of students at each age and stage benefit your child? Often your own experience with community and education may help determine what environment would work best for your family in the future.

#2.  Does the School Offer an Immersive Language Program?

Learning a second (or third) language has been shown to improve academic performance and enhance cognitive development. Plus, as the world becomes increasingly global, having those extra languages under your belt can be a great advantage. 

More and more public school districts around the country are starting to offer immersive language programs, with no additional cost or time. If language immersion is important, be sure to let your Strategist know. 

#3. Special Services for Kids with Learning Differences

If your child has unique needs it may be important to ask if the school has a speech therapist, psychologist, occupational therapist, or other experts on staff. You should also ask if kids are “pulled out” for services, or if the special education teacher co-teaches in the same class.

Does the town have active parent support groups? Does the community have a special needs PTA? Checking out online Facebook groups can give great insight on local resources. 

#4. Proximity to Your Home

Do you want your kids to walk to school? Are you ok with them taking the bus? Does the district have busing? Convenience is a big factor, even if you don’t have to be at drop-off and pick-up every day. Just think about all of those other times you have to run to the school – parent-teacher conferences, forgotten lunchboxes, classroom volunteering, after-school events and more. 

If you don’t want to spend tons of time going back and forth, proximity may be something to consider.

#5. Grades in Each School

Some elementary schools are K-2 while others are K-6. Think about your preference. If you have multiple kids it might be easier to find a school with a wider range of grades to avoid drop-offs and pick-ups at different locations. 

On the other hand, younger kids might transition to school easier if they are in a smaller environment without a lot of older kids. It’s really all about what is going to work best for your child’s needs.

#6. Are There After-School Programs?

If you are a working parent, after-school programs can be essential. Many kids also love this chance to socialize, play sports and be creative. Plus, after-school programs usually include homework time so kids can knock this out before you pick them up.

Be sure to ask if the after-school program is on-site. Otherwise, it would be good to know if they provide busing from the school.

There’s so much to consider when you’re looking for the right town and school district for your family. But you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Get in touch today so we can help you focus on the communities that best align with your lifestyle.

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