How To Research A Public School When Moving

Provides steps for researching public schools when you are preparing for a move.

There are a lot of pesky things about moving-finding grocery stores, doctors, dentists, jobs-and schools for your children. Although researching a public school can require a little digging, it doesn't have to be that much of a chore. Following are some steps which you can use to put you on the right track to finding the right school.

1. First, it's important to know what your family needs and wants from a school. In terms of

Practical considerations, some important considerations may be-proximity to home, work, or

schools which your other children attend. Will you provide transportation, or will your child

need school-sponsored transportation? Do you need before or after-school child care? Does

your child require any special physical, emotional or learning needs?

In terms of educational and social considerations, these may be some things to assess: Is a large or small school environment better for your child? What are teacher to student ratios? How diverse is the student body? Does the curriculum focus on the things which are important to you and your child? What opportunities are there for socialization?

2. Next, assess your child's needs in terms of schools. What types of things are important to

her/him? What are your child's strengths and weaknesses-both in terms of education and

socialization? Which subjects does he or she like and/or dislike? In what subjects does he or

have difficulties (if any)? How does your child interact with adults and other children?

Some other important considerations may be: What extracurricular activities are available in which children can participate. Are there sports programs, if he or she is good at sports, or interested in, sports? Is there a good music program, if that is where your child's interests lie?

The needs of both the family and the child are important in choosing the right school. Make up a list of questions which you need answered regarding particular schools. Once you have determined the needs of both the family and the child, you can go on to the process of

researching the schools in the area to which you are moving.

3. In this process, the internet can be an invaluable tool. Both county and city school systems have web sites for their school systems. Determine which school system in which your child

will be attending school. Then, using any search engine, type in the name of the school system, such as "Clarke County Schools" or "Atlanta City Schools." Although you may have to go through several different county sites, you will discover that there is a central site for the county or city school system in the state to which you are moving. This central site will give you some general, but important, information regarding the entire school system.

Another possible starting place is the web site of the local chamber of commerce or the local

newspaper, which often have links to school websites. If you don't have internet access, or

prefer to have more personal contact, use directory assistance to find a telephone number

for the central offices of the local school system, which should be happy to give you infor-

mation over the phone or to send you literature regarding their schools.

4. Once you have located information on the school system in general, determine which individual local schools your child is eligible to attend. Many schools continue to use a zoning system, which means that, depending on exactly where you will be living your child may be limited to one or two schools. However, some school systems now use a choice method of assigning

children to schools, which may mean that you have a choice between several schools.

5.The centralized source to which you go for general information on a school system will usually have links to web sites for the individual schools. Once you have determined the individual

schools to which your child will have access, you can truly begin the process of researching the schools.

These web sites for individual schools will usually contain information on the school including

curriculum, the student body and extracurricular activities. In addition, you can usually find

the school's main phone number, as well as phone numbers and email addresses for the principal, assistant principal, school counselor and individual teachers. Many times, these sites

will also include email addresses or links to parent-teacher organizations and some of their


6. Using the email addresses, or the phone numbers, you can ask some of the questions you

have regarding the school, working from the list of questions you made previously. In this way

you can narrow down the choices (if you have a choice of more than one school).

7. The most important part of your research will be making a visit to the school or schools to

which you have narrowed your choices. Regardless of the amount of reading or research you do regarding a school, nothing can tell you as much as you will learn by visiting the campus.

You will want to speak to the principal, school counselor, teachers in the grade your child will be attending, perhaps the school librarian and, if available, a member or members of any

parent-teacher organizations. If your child will require any special education or any other type of special considerations, you will also want to speak with anyone in charge of those areas.

Although researching a school will require some work on your part, you will find it to be worth the effort when both you and your child are happy and confident about his or her first day in the new school. Everyone will know what to expect, and this will make the transition and the move easier for both you and your child.

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