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Secrets To Finding The Right School When You're Buying A Home

Aug 11, 2008
There are so many things to take into consideration when you're buying a house. Will your furniture fit? Will your life fit? Is the foundation sound? But if you have children, finding a house near a school that's a good fit is probably the single most important consideration you have.

Let's do the math: American children spend an average of 6 hours per day, 5 days a week in school. Once you take the various holidays out of the mix, you're left with approximately 185 instructional days per school year. That's a total of 1116 hours a year! Multiply this by 12 years and you get a whopping 13,392 instructional hours by the time prom rolls around. Let's hope it's a positive experience.

Forget everything you know about choosing a school. The secret to choosing the right elementary school for your children has very little to do with fancy grading systems, elaborate facilities, technology, high grades, high tuition or whatever may be the academic flavor of the month. You can't look at a static report on the Internet and be able to effectively evaluate whether or not that school has what it takes to nurture your child's heart and soul.

Things like school spirit; level of emotional intelligence amongst the staff; the school's ability to bring out the best in all their students and the level of tolerance for differences (whether they be different learning styles, different abilities or physical differences) aren't found in the numbers. Yet, all of these factors will have a profound effect on the experience your child will have at school.

A few things to look for:

Flexibility

Does the school have a one size fits all approach? Even a gifted child may not excel in every subject. Find out if the school is designed to accommodate differences or if they expect children to conform to their needs. Chances are that your child has a special ability that needs to be nurtured or that they would benefit from enriched or flexible programs that give them access to the right tools and information at the right developmental stage. When you're looking for a school, look for flexible programs that will be able to serve children who need help in some areas and enrichment in others.

Proximity

Though your child may gain a modicum of pride from attending a high ranking school, this isn't the stuff that memories are built on. One of the most important things to children is the quality of the relationships in their lives. Above all else, kids want to spend time with their friends and families. Probably the simplest way to give them this is to live within walking distance of whatever school they go to. Long commutes whether by bus or by car might be the only way to get your child to the school of your choice but it also creates a disconnect when it comes to their day to day life, the life of the family and their social relationships.

Leadership

The quality of the leadership at any school will define the quality of the education at that school. A school principal sets the tone for the staff the staff take this into the classroom and to your child. If you don't care for the principal's methodology, you probably won't like the school. Schedule an interview or meeting with the school principal and find out.

1. What it means to be a successful student at this school
2. What sort of children do well here and what sort of children don't
3. Does the school favor any particular educational philosophies?
4. What kind of support does the administration have? A strong PTA? Vice Principal?
5. What kind of arts, technology and sports programs do they offer?
6. What sort of stance does the school take toward issues and values that are important to you as a parent?

The Hidden Report Card

Take some time to discover what it is that you value in a school as a parent. Make a list of must-haves and put them in order of priority. Then go about finding out whether or not the school in question makes the mark on each point.

Investigate the schools in the area you're planning to buy a home in by finding out what kind of marks they get from students, parents and staff. Visit the school and observe whether or not the students are happy. Talk to a few teachers and find out how they feel about the school. An education isn't just a bunch of marks. It's an experience, a collection of memories and a foundation for the future.
About the Author
Search San Clemente MLS listings and view Laguna Beach real estate in Orange County without leaving your computer - www.HartanovTeam.com.
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