Phil Aitken
Phil Aitken

6 Steps to Selecting a Great School

Finding the right school for your children can seem like a daunting task, however, it just takes a little homework.  The Aitken Home Team presents six steps for selecting a great school in your new neighborhood:

1. – Look Beyond Test Scores

Just as you would not purchase a new home based only on photos, you should not choose a new school-based solely on test scores and student-teacher ratios.  As you research education options, keep in mind that most reported test scores do not provide insight into educational aspects beyond math and English.  Furthermore, statistics do not reflect the teaching of critical thinking skills and opportunities best suited to your child.  Your best bet is to select a school that fits the needs of your child whether charter, public or private.  All schools have strengths and weaknesses.  The key is to choose that most closely fits your child’s needs and wants.  

Related: “Buying a Home Site Unseen: 4 Things You Should Know”

2. – Enjoy Your Tour

Once you’ve narrowed your list of school prospects, be sure to schedule individual tours for each contender.  If you are told that you cannot visit, cross that particular option off the list.  You want to be sure that teachers and principals are easily accessible.  A school that denies you a tour for whatever reason is not a likely healthy candidate for your child’s education.  

Be sure to take in a class or two and take notes on teaching styles and note whether the teacher is approachable.  Study student engagement during class time as well as how the teachers interact with students.  Note whether or not student work is displayed in classrooms or hallways and ask the students for their opinions of their school: their favorite subject, best teacher, sports, etc.  Observe the cleanliness of the school.  Is there trash on the floors and graffiti on the walls or is the facility fairly clean?  If you see something in need of remodeling, inquire as to the future plans for revamping and cleaning up a bit.  

3. – Observe Surroundings

If at all possible, attend a school board meeting to further learn about the district in which you are hoping to educate your child.  Pay attention as to whether parents are in attendance to discuss problems versus solutions and chat with parents at a PTA meeting.  

Learn about the demographics of the student population and whether or not your child will have the privilege of experiencing diversity.  Check out sports programs as schools can offer diversity via those avenues as well.  

4. – Consider the Long Haul

Your child might be five today, however, they will be fifteen tomorrow.  Know what your child’s middle and high schools are like and what they have to look forward to.  Electing to live in a neighborhood because the elementary school is awesome is fine, however, you need to make sure the middle and high schools are equally awesome unless you plan to move again.  

Related: “4 Tips for 2018 Summer Buyers”

5. – Residency Rules

Be sure to understand the boundaries for selecting schools.  For example, your home could be in one district, but your neighbor’s address could be a part of another district.  Such boundaries are subject to change, so contact your local school district to make sure you are choosing correctly based on your address.  

6. – Parent Engagement

Look for a school that you, as a parent, feel welcome.  If you feel comfortable enough to get involved at your child’s school, you can better keep a handle on what’s going on.  Good schools welcome the involvement of parents and express appreciation for such involvement.  

Regardless of your final choice, your homework will likely pay off and you can rest easy knowing you made a good choice.  

For more information, contact The Aitken Home Team today!


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Phil Aitken, Owner/Broker
Phil Aitken is the Owner/Broker with Your Home Sold Guaranteed Realty - Phil Aitken Home Team and has over 13 years of Real Estate experience. Phil’s faith and desire for his family’s continued security fuel his business growth and leadership. The Phil Aitken Home Team continues to profoundly impact the people of Jacksonville via supporting several faith-based organizations. Phil gives back a portion of every real estate transaction to The Tim Tebow Foundation and Rethreaded. Find Phil's full story here.