Thursday, April 14, 2011

Choosing a School From a Distance: Part 1

According to an article on great by Connie Mathiessen , if you are moving, how can you find the best school from a distance?  Mathiessen can help you choose the best school for your child. Whether going across the state or cross country, if you’re facing a move, you’re probably stressed out and no wonder: Moving means turning your life upside down and making an endless number of decisions. And one of the biggest stressors that can send a parent over the edge?

Finding a new school for your child.

In an ideal world, in advance of moving you can visit potential schools, meet teachers, and get a good sense of the school environment. But what if there isn’t time, or cost or distance make a scouting trip prohibitive?

This was the case for Catherine Milne and her family, who moved from Sydney, Australia to San Francisco last year. She had to find schools for her two children, who were 10 and 15 at the time, and she says it was by far the toughest part of the moving process. "It was much harder than finding a suitable house to rent," Milne says. "There's just so much angst and upheaval for kids in terms of leaving friends and changing schools. If you can find them a school where they have a good chance of being happy, then you're well on the way to having a happy family."

The following steps will help you make the best long distance choice:

1. Make your wish list:  Clarify the kind of school you – and your child – are looking for (see our work sheet to help you imagine your ideal school). You probably have "must-haves" that will help narrow your search. For example, if your child requires support for learning differences or you want her to attend a language immersion school. Consider your child’s abilities, interests, and learning style. Then seek advice from her current teachers about what type of school environment they think will suit her best.

a. Would she do better in a small school or a large one?
b. Will a strong sports or theatre program make all the difference for your child?
c. Does she like a structured learning environment, or does she thrive when she has some independence? (For more ideas on making the best school choice, go to Choosing a school: An overview.) One sobering reality check: Whether it's a public or private school you have your eye on, you're not assured a spot. So make sure you have a few fall-back schools if you can't get into the school of your dreams.


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