Parenting and home schooling

How to find the best school districts when moving homes

We’re about to have a 16 year old in the family. That’s just two years away from legal adulthood where we come from and it is both exciting and the opposite for our family.

We’ve been doing interest-led homeschooling for the past 12 years. At the moment, our son, Pablo, is working on completing his Junior High requirements so he can take the test and move up to Senior High. And while homeschooling is still on our list of options, registering him with a regular school where we know he can learn things he may most likely not learn from home weighs a tad more heavily for us.

We’re poised for a minor relocation because our family is growing and the dynamics have changed, and our tiny rented abode no longer meets our needs as a family. One of our priorities for this move is possibly finding the best school district for our son.

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This is a big deal for us because I think his senior high experience will hugely impact his academic progress.  So I made a list of things I want to look into before we make our decisions.

1. Mission, Vision and Values

I think that from the onset, you would have an idea on the values and vision of the school district authorities, and know if it’s the right fit for your child and your family.

Is the school student-centred? What is their vision for their students? 

 What are the values by which the school district run their programs and are they aligned by the values you live by as a family? What is the heart of their mission?

2. Do they invest in facilities and technology for their students?

This is very important as the world has now completely changed and as we all now know, technology has become our salvation in business, education, and other industries. Personally, I think that it’s only right that our children will get the best education for the new world that is becoming.

For our son, it would really be useful as he is a certified geek who loves using softwares to create animations and softwares. It would be advantageous for him if the school invests in technology for their students.

3. Diversity

I love the idea of a diverse group of kids learning from each other. As much as possible, we encourage our children to be intercultural. To be  curious about kids from other countries, to hear what they think, to know what goes on in their minds, to hear their stories and to share their own. I think that there is so much growth a person can gain from multi-cultural collaborations.

4. Test Scores

Although I do believe that test scores do not really reflect a person’s academic prowess and ability, it’s still a good gauge for choosing if the school district is the right one as it would show how much learning and retention the students have in general.

For me, it will also show how engaged the students are in class.

5. Quality of Teachers

It would be advisable to observe how the teachers work and maybe meet some of them to get to know them up close. When you send your children to school, you are releasing them to these teachers who would be mentoring them, teaching them, sharing with them not only their knowledge, but also their experiences, insights and opinions of the world. You’d want a well-rounded faculty and staff who have good heads on their shoulders to surround your kid for years to come.

6. After-school programs and ExtraCurricular activities

As of the moment, our teenager is still under the local education department’s homeschool program, so he has a lot of time in his hands to train in ballet, work on his animation skills and pursue his interest. But when we register him for Senior High at a regular school, the hours may conflict with his current trainings and activities. So it’s good to know what the school has to offer outside academics, after all, learning shouldn’t be just based on text books but also on real life experiences.

It may work well for our son if the school district has a dance or theatre program, and if there’ll be opportunities for internship and community involvement.

So, those are simply standards. How does one find the best school districts per se? Here are some tips:

A. Check Real Estate Listing Sites

Many Real Estate Listing sites provide useful information on nearby schools, like RedFin. For example, you can check out the list of Ottawa homes for sale and check out how the school district is like in the area and around it.

B. Scout the schools in person

Being able to actually meet the faculty and staff of the schools in the district, hear feedback from parents of the students, or from the students themselves can help you make an informed decision.

C. Google Maps

It’s fun to check out Google Maps on the schools in the district, zoom in on them and read details and reviews when you click on these schools. Google Street View may even help you get a good look at the grounds and the places near and around it to see if the location is a good one.

We will probably not find a perfect school for our kids, but we can try to get them into the most fit for them. After all, registering our son to Senior High will mark the end of his homeschooling journey with us and jumpstart his life towards adulthood. It’s always a good thing to make an informed decision about it with the best resources we can find.