How to Choose the Best School for Your Child
Are you relocating to Augusta or moving from one county to another? If so, you may be concerned about your children having to change schools, especially if they have many friends or love the teachers at their current school. It’s important to know that today’s home builders strive to build homes in the best possible school districts in the area. However, if you’re new to the area, you may still be unsure which school will be right for your kids. Here are a few tips on how to choose the best school for your child:
- Define the Perfect School: Before you even begin looking at the schools near the communities you are considering, determine what your priorities are when it comes to your child’s education. Do you want a school that has a strong math program or a high school that offers a wide variety of advanced placement courses? It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with different teaching methods and compare those with how your child learns best. Also, it is important to keep in mind that friends and siblings may fit best at different schools based on their individual needs.
- Consider the Options: Once you’ve chosen the area that you’d like your new home to be in, determine what options are available in those areas, such as the public school district, private schools, magnet schools or charter schools. Considering home school organizations, online education or partnerships with local colleges are also good options. Finally, make sure to research local laws on where you’re allowed to enroll your child, as well as costs and what financial aid or assistance is available.
- Review the Numbers: Make sure to check the data about the number of students enrolled, the student-to-teacher ratio, test scores and what grades study at each school to get a sense of the school’s academic rigor and success. However, don’t rely solely on the numbers to guide your decision. Data can often be misrepresented based on who is presenting it, and it may not reflect any major changes that are underway, from redistricting to changing standards. Use credible research tools, such as GreatSchools.org or the National Center for Education Statistics, when you search for data. Also, make sure to compare how students did against others at their grade level, as well as how scores or ratings have changed over time.
- Schedule a Visit: Perhaps the best way to get a feel for the school is to visit it in person. Take notice of the school’s response to a pre-enrollment visit. If they aren’t fond of the idea, that may raise red flags for a number of reasons including how they’ll respond to you as a parent. When you do visit a school, request to meet the principle, teachers and other parents if possible. Pay attention to the way the students interact with the adults, as well as how much involvement is requested from the parents. Make sure to visit more than one school so that you will be able to compare the differences.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions: While visiting the school, make sure to ask what the administration’s expectations are for the students and consider whether they match your own expectations for your child. Also, review the criteria you listed for the perfect school, and ask questions to determine whether or not the school meets those standards. Other questions that may be important to ask include how much homework is assigned, how the school handles behavior issues and how teachers are supported, trained and tracked.
- Know When and How to Enroll: Once you have chosen the best school for your child, make sure you find out deadlines for applications, enrollment, lottery sign-ups and financial aid assistance if necessary. Make sure you have all of the paperwork that will be required, such as vaccination records, proof of your child’s identity and age and proof of residence.
During your search, local home builders such as Keystone Homes can provide you with information about the school districts that each of its communities are in. You can also visit the Keystone Homes website to find out more details about the homes that are offered, including floor plans, as well as information about the local community, Keystone’s green building methods and testimonials from happy homeowners.