PCS’ing as a military family has many moving parts, and one of those is choosing where your kids will go to school. There are many different things to keep in mind, and weighing the options (or lack thereof) can feel daunting. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when choosing your kids’ school to help you make the most aligned decisions for your family.
Bullying happens inside and outside the classroom, but schools can be proactive in their response or let things slide. Bullying can severely impact the mental health, academic standing, and personality of LGBTQIA+ students, neuro-diverse children, and kids of color. Finding an inclusive school that stands up for its most vulnerable kids can make a difference in your kid’s flourishing. Heidi, a mom of a queer child, shares, “We switched to a school that’s more LGBTQIA+ aware, active, and supportive, and it’s made a world of difference!”
There are many different types of schools; private, public, Montessori, and more. Each of these also has different pricing and scholarship situations and may alter the accessibility of the school for you. What may be a bonus for some in finding a religious school may be a no go for others who desire something different. Public education may have IEP or 504 options but may not always have the desired student-to-teacher ratio. Perhaps you had a Montessori school you loved at your previous base, but now there are none near you.
After-school activities can be an excellent way for kids to make friends and learn new skills! Are there before and after-school activities at this school? What activities interest your child? This topic may not be necessary for preschool-age kids, but this can become a higher priority for a junior in high school. Some schools offer after-activity bussing, helping relieve parents’ time constraints who have longer schedules. If there is a sport your child loves, and the closest school doesn’t have it available, perhaps they pick up a new sport, or you look at other school options.
As much as it might not occur to some, one Air Force mom, Elissa, mentioned searching for any DOJ or local investigations into the school. How do they handle any scandals or sexual abuse allegations? What was their response to the pandemic? Tragically, living in America, school shootings are common, and being aware of a school’s plans in case the unthinkable happens is wise. Answers to these questions can give you a clear picture of if you want to choose that school…or not.
Although some teachers have to teach for the test, there is a broad spectrum of homework approaches. See where your school stands, as some schools create time within the school day to get the work done, and others send home hours of work each night.
It may be a dream to have your child attend the school across the city, but if it’s a 45-minute drive outside of rush hour, you may need to rethink either where you live or the school. Some parents choose where they live based on the school district, and if you have multiple kids depending on the city’s layout, you may be dropping kids off at different schools at various times, and drive time is something to consider.
It may also be possible that no schools feel like the right fit, and you want to do forest schooling or homeschooling for your family. As you navigate these options, many different resources for homeschooling your child and communities exist to learn and grow alongside.
Everyone wants their child raised to be a knowledgable, genuine, and caring member of society, and school plays a big part in that. Remember that you can also get involved in your child’s school to help make it a place where your child thrives and learns the skills they need in our world.
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