PhotoPlenty of important decisions must be made prior to moving. From deciding whether to rent or buy to choosing a moving company, no stone must be left unturned when it comes to relocating.

When kids are in the mix, school-related decisions must also be made. But deciding where your child will spend a significant portion of his or her days can be a daunting task.

In its blog, Trulia aims to help families with this seemingly tough decision by breaking down the process of finding your family's ideal school into several steps.

Questions to ask

Narrowing down the pool of potential schools to one ideal school will require a fair amount of research, as well as a keen understanding of what the “right” school means to your family.

“When searching for a new home and neighborhood, school is often one of the most important deciding factors for a family,” the online real estate marketplace writes, adding, “It’s not just your child’s educational experience to consider.”

“Everything from the school potluck scene to your commute times will shape your daily experience in a neighborhood.”

To kick off your search, Trulia suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • What are some places where my child has thrived in the past? What unifies those experiences?
  • Do we prefer a traditional or alternative educational style?
  • How important are extracurricular enrichment opportunities?
  • What sort of contributions (time or money) are we interested in making as a family?

Research tips  

Standardized test scores alone usually aren’t enough to determine whether or not a particular school is a fit for your family. To glean insight from afar, Trulia suggests researching the schools you’re considering by employing the following tactics:

  • Network. Let your Facebook friends know that you are investigating schools in a certain area and ask if they have any experience or insight to share.
  • Call schools directly. Use the American School Directory to contact each school on your short list of options. Ask to have school catalogs and any other printed material (particularly about how this school or district compares to others in the area) sent to you by mail.
  • Check out schools’ websites. Peek around the school’s website, where you’ll likely find lots of information -- newsletters, PTA meeting notes, and info on awards or certifications the school has recently received.
  • Visit in person. Get a feel for the school’s values and other attributes by visiting in person. Try to engage people in conversation to ask them any questions you might have. Additionally, you can ask to meet with the principal.
  • Evaluate multiple sources of data. Be sure to combine data you find online with other types of information, such as data from GreatSchools or SchoolDigger. Resources like these let families compare schools, find student/teacher ratios, average numbers of students in each class, and view other helpful information.
  • Read reviews. To find out what current families think of the school, read parents’ reviews on GreatSchools’ and SchoolDiggers’ sites.

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