Educational Continuity and the Right School

Educational Continuity... and the "Right School"

All the Same??

Across the US, K through 12 curriculums are relatively the same, right?  No. No they are not.  You can move from one school district into the one next door and the curriculum used can be vastly different.

So, if they can be different how is is possible to trust that a child is receiving an education without gaps relocating from one school/district to another, let alone one country to another. 

Have you considered it?  How would you know?

Relocation can create educational gaps.

Can you trust the system? Each system?  AND How would a parent find those gaps – Academic, social and environmental?

Because I only had one child to navigate through the US educational system, he was always a Guinea pig.  I didn’t know what to do and other than the Montessori school option.. All I knew was public education.

As we moved across the country, my parents never placement tested me.  I was never evaluated for reading, though I should have been.  My grades were good, so I went from one grade to the next grade, eventually graduating at 17 from high school.

They trusted the system, so I trusted the system.  Until I didn’t.

No More Blind Trust

As a mom, you just know.  You know when something is up with your child – seeing it on their face, in their mood or in what they do and do not do. You know when they are short of  their potential.  You know when they are struggling.  I’ve talked about our Dyslexia journey a few times in the last few weeks. 

The thing is, I recognized the issue way back in 3rd grade. I asked for testing and received it.  I was told he would be fine and catch up, trust us. Retested in 4th grade and  6th grade and flagged by a science teacher in 7th grade.  Each time “Don’t worry, trust us.” 

He was an A, B, C student at the time and not a behavioral problem.  Other than struggling with reading they kept saying “He’s doing fine, trust us.”  But, he was struggling.  I could see it.  I kept asking questions but couldn’t get anyone to tell me what that gap was.  We moms, we can see the gaps.  Gaps that are really there.

It wasn’t until I stopped trusting the experts, that I finally decided to have my child tested.  Through private educational testing, we finally learned what that gap. The gap I had seen for 8 years. 

Those experts, told us to trust them and even dismissed the gap I was seeing..   But the truth is, though most often they are well intentioned, even the best experts do not know everything.  I feel the same way about doctors.  There is so much to know, and so many medical advances taking place that any one doctor cannot know everything and be able to help every person.  At this point, I joke, anything more than strep we are getting a second opinion.

“Liisten to the experts and seek further understanding and resources when it’s not quite right” should be our manifesto for educating our children.  Children are not all cut from the same cloth.  They do not all learn well from the same strategies or environments. 

Take for instance a few years where 1st and 2nd grade classrooms brought in exercise balls to sit on for the fidgety kids.  Being able to move during instruction allowed them to learn more each day.

Last School to Right School

Intellectually, we expect that the new school will be different from the last.   Emotionally though, we truly want it to be all the same, especially if the last school served our children well. Being able to plug them in and then watch them make friends, learn and thrive is what we want. Conversely we worry about choosing the “not right” school where we could watch our children whither.

So, what do you need to know? 

You need to know your child: Academically, Socially and in which Environment they best thrive in. These are the educational continuity areas that matter. A significant deficit in any of them can cause a child to stop learning or shut down.

The new school will most likely not be an exact match.  However, by knowing where your children are at in these three area the closest match can be identified.  AND now that the gaps are visible any deficits can be shored up and addressed by outside resources or you the parents.

Academics

Sometimes the academic standing is easy to understand. The records are complete and understandable to the parents and the new school/district.  Many times though parents, children and the new administrators are kind of guessing.  This guess leads to “let’s try this out”.  Which may be find for the school but if IT doesn’t work out that means that the child and the family face another transition or a decision to go along with less than needed situation/academics/challenges/accommodations/etc.

Accredited Academic test can help fill in the gaps. The private educational testing we receive was from an accredited academic testing individual, provided testing results that were recognized by our local schools.  This was important because we expected he was going to need accommodations at school and for the college entrance exams.

The point of academic testing is determined by what you want for your children and what you believe they can achieve.  Perhaps you want to know where they rank in all 8th grade students.  Perhaps you think they should be in a more advanced math class.  OR because of the past school curriculum, nothing seems to be a direct match for the new schools.

Around the Country
No Capitals – No Presidents

As we move around the country and around the world, the curriculum continuity is disrupted. To this day I do not know all the presidents or the state capitals due to a mid-year relocation.  This is because, the state I moved from were going to cover that in the spring semester, and the new school had already covered them in the fall semester.

If my mother would have known, I am sure she would have quizzed me until I remembered. But, she trusted the system.

Academic testing, placement testing and assessment testing can provide that bridge between the schools.  Helping the new school understand and appropriately place students in classes. The private school our son attended used the academic testing in just this manner, making sure he was in an appropriate and doable class for him.

Complete Educational Testing

The educational testing, some of which is available on a sliding scale, goes beyond placement and grade level ranking.  Private academic helps both parents and students understand how they learn as well as assess intelligence and academic capabilities as well as be able to define the best environmental and social setting that will encourage and support a child..

The point being, to understand HOW THE STUDENT LEARNS.

Recent educational studies show that there are many different ways to learn.  Dyslexia in my opinion is one of many learning differences not a disability that can be mitigated with the right teaching tools.  Some of us are auditory learners and others are visual. 

When you know all of the  educational pieces for your child, choosing the “right school”, the best match out of the available community school is obvious.  This knowledge also allows the known gaps to be filled more easily either by the school or privately.  Educational Continuity can be achieved.

Searching for Educational Testing

When looking for educational testing, search PSYCHO EDUCATIONAL TESTING for testing that provides results in all three areas.  A NeuroPsych can provide additional information.  When evaluating the Assessment Specialists (the one/groups giving the testing) let them know why you want the testing and ask if they can provide you with that type of information. 

I talked to one Assessment Specialist that was willing to fly out to another district to assess whether the environments at the 4 school in contention, would match what that child needed and provide an environment where they might thrive.

As relocating parents we have the opportunity to do a school match.  Knowing who your child is, what they are capable of and which environment serves them means you do not have to guess.

You can know the “right school” when you see it!

Educational Continuity…
and the School Search

If you know,

      • How your child learns
      • What environment they excel in
      • Where they are EXACTLY academically
      • What they are capable of
      • What their innate talents are
      • What helps them excel

Then what?  How does that change your search for the “right school”?

Decide.  And write it down into your plan.

Delegate do not Abdicate

To a certain point we can trust the system, but not to the place of abdication.  By placing our children in any school or school system we are delegating the activities and responsibility of their education.  Delegation is not abdication.

Abdication is a washing our hands of the whole thing and accepting,  “JUST TRUST US”.

We do know our kids and we know what they are capable of.  If the experts do not provide the answers to the gaps, take heart and…keep looking.

ReloMoms do not accept that the expert know better, just because they tell us so.  We ReloMoms, we who relocate, are some of the toughest and best problem solvers in the world.  We can figure this out and choose the “right school” and provide educational continuity for our kids.

ReloMoms…You’ve got this!!


For more information about relocation and education look to the blogs and podcasts of August 31st and September 6th 2020 on the www.ReloMoms.com website.

It’s time for someone to come along side you and help you work through the relocation challenges sign up for your FREE 1 hour ReloMoms Coaching and Consult

You will walk away with useful tools and strategies! 

Related Blog: Vital Tips to Choosing the Right School
Link to podcast: Going Beyond the BIG 6 School Stats Podcast #5

Vital Tips for Choosing the Right School

The RIGHT School?

What Actually Matters?

This question causes parents sleepless nights.  For many of us, relocation gave us the first opportunity to choose our child’s school.  Many times, especially with the first child, we chose the local community school.  For those of us public school kids, that is typically where we send our children.  The school boundaries determining where they go and how they would be educated.

As long as the parents around us thought the schools were OK, we never considered another choice or what actually made a school, good. We accepted it.

Relocation changes that.  Perhaps for the first time, we must evaluate and make a choice.

The responsibility for our child’s education lands in our lap. It is a weighty decision that will impact where we choose to live, what our children get to do and what they will learn both actively and passively. That feeling of responsibility makes the decision making process more difficult.

Before we can decide we need to find some information.

The Internet School Search

Looking for school information looks a lot like shopping for a new car.  We look at what others are driving or considering.  We want one that as many features as we can afford.  We typically test drive the ones at the top of our budget.  We know we are not going to get everything we want but, we want as much as we can get.

When shopping for schools, the ones with the highest rated educational features look the best. The easiest stats to find are The Big SIX School Stats:

  • Testing
  • Graduation Rates
  • Internet Ratings
  • Sports/Arts Ranking
  • Diversity (economic & racial)
  • The Facilities

Each of these is relatively easy to find on the internet through the district and state education websites.  Facebook & Instagram provides images of what these schools are like. Other relocation sites provide some of this and current parent opinions on a 0 to 10 point scale.

Certainly, The Big SIX School Stats are important.  We should be able to identify the right schools for our kids.

Right?  Not necessarily.

The challenge with all of these sources is that they are easily skewed.  It is like looking at your best friend’s social media posts.  Most likely she is not airing the issues she has had in her family, with her schools or in her life on social media.  We individually and as institutions want to show our best side.

Whether the booster clubs, the districts, the PTA, etc., every part of a school has an intrinsic agenda to sell their school or program.  Therefore, only the best information will be presented.

What about the test scores, is this irrefutable data?  It may or may not be.  But, what does it matter? Will some other kid’s ability to take a test determine whether your child can achieve high test scores?  The answer is not necessarily.  Your child’s ability to test what they know is independent of the other child, their history and abilities.

Beyond Test Scores and Sports Rankings

What really matters in choosing the right school is truly understanding the school.  A school is not test scores and sports programs.  It is a living community.  Just like a one on one relationship, it will educate, impact and affect your child and your family.  All of the influences, the programs, the culture.

To understand as much as possible before the choice is made dive into knowing the following:

  • Parent involvement
  • Student culture
  • Social pressures (dress, participation, status, etc.)
  • Parent culture
  • Counselor availability
  • Administration hallway presence
  • Heavily funded preferred programs
  • District wide incentives and focus
  • Educational options
  • Education pathways & rules for access
  • Discipline rules and procedures
  • Charity and community endeavors
  • Extra-curricular activities/travel/access
  • Specialty programs and true availability (STEAM, Special Needs, Dyslexia, Gifted & Talented)
  • Student expectations (academic, behavioral, participation)
  • Parent expectations (academic, behavioral, participation)

Consider each of these and determine what works for us and our child, what is a challenge and what is a distraction or an impediment to our child and family.

What really matters is what makes a difference to your child and your family.

A Living Community

This small list represents only a fraction of what goes on at school.  A School is a living community, that functions like any other community.  It provides the structure and the rules for life with in the school.  The purpose served may be to educate children, but most of the education that goes on outside of the classroom, is what typically determines how children learn inside the classroom.

How do I know? Because 8 years of school taught my child, he was “stupid”.  That is a hard thing to unlearn.  Believe me, it still sneaks up on him as a college student…well after he has proven himself to be anything but stupid.

We tried time after time to understand why he struggled, asking administrator after administrator and teacher.  He wasn’t struggling enough for services even though multiple teachers requested evaluations.  This led to being told by peers he was “stupid”, and he accepted it.   The severe dyslexia went undiagnosed for years.

These communities have stronger influence than any test score or football ranking.  It is important to know a school’s daily culture, so that children can be placed in a school where they can thrive.

Thriving for my son came in the form of private school.  We shifted him to an college preparatory school. This was the first time where he was surrounded by kids who wanted to learn. He was expected to learn and participate.  In this environment and with these expectations he rose to the occasion.  In a smaller school, he could no longer hide from the other kids, the teachers or himself.  He found his voice and participated.  It wasn’t an easy ride.  It would be 4 more years before his dyslexia was diagnosed, but he found a community that was inclusive and academically interesting. Here, he was willing to put forth the effort and learn.

With the educational clean slate of relocation, there is no school that must be attended.  The options are wide open, even more wide open with online and home school options during the COVID pandemic.  Take advantage of the wide open options and find the living educational community that encourages, inspires and drives personal growth.

Identify Your Right School

Your Right School, one defined specifically for your child starts with a vision of the perfect school. A specific vision for each of your children.  Do not judge or hold back, just create.

For each of your children, what would the perfect school look like?

  • What would they learn?
  • What is your child’s potential (all areas)?
  • How would they be treated?
  • What does discipline look like?
  • What opportunities would they have?
  • What extras are offered (travel/arts/sports/clubs/language/STEAM/etc.)?
  • Are there program spots for my child?
  • What does each day look like?
  • What does your child need to become all they can be?
  • What do they expect of my child and the family?
  • The school will provide…
  • The school will communicate (through/when)…
  • As parents we will have _________ access and participation options.

Defining these things ahead of time will help you see the matches available.  Understand that due to the nature of organized school, no child is perfectly served by any school, private or public. And this is OK.  What you are doing here is creating a vision specifically tailored to each child.

This vision of the right school, helps you quickly identify which schools in the new community will best serve your child(ren).  This vision helps you move beyond the Big SIX School Stats, and focus on the school aspects that will positively impact your child and your family. 

“Begin with the end in mind.” ~ Steven Covey

Real Parents have the Information

You may be thinking, “But I don’t know any parents there.”  This is not going to be a problem. 

Finding real parents in the community happens with each phone call into the new community.  The real estate transaction alone will provide many locals who can connect you.  The local real estate agent, mortgage broker, title company and inspectors will all most likely have clients or co-workers with children in the different local schools.  This informal networking starts real information flowing your way.

One of the easiest call to make is to each school. Ask how to contact their PTA president and Membership chairperson.  These people will be excited to tell you all about the wonderful aspects of the school.  Be sure and ask about specific programs or services your child may need, and if they know of any parents who have kids like yours who could give you more information.

A non-traditional call is to the Chamber of Commerce.  Sure, this is a business organization but many of the small business owners are local and have children in school, both public and private. 

Local membership organizations are filled with real parents.  If you are a Junior League member, Rotary/Lions club members, MOPS member or might like to join the garden club, contact the local clubs.  After receiving club information ask about the schools and school options.

Parents typically love to talk about their kid’s schools.  The real parents are the most likely source to learns how the school fail as well as how to overcome some of that

Understanding a school’s culture before experiencing it can be difficult. However, by making these phone calls and talking to real parents, getting a “feel” for each school becomes possible.  This way, by the time a tour is walked and school counselors give their sales pitch, a real view of what that school is all about can be better understood.


If you are ready to plan and organize your relocation
download the ReloMoms 3 Step Relocation Workbook today. 


My passion is to help you relocate well from packing to connecting!

Have a wonderful week and come join us in the
ReloMoms Community on Facebook.
Monday – Facebook Live, Tuesday – ReloMoms Blog, Thursday – ReloMoms Podcast

Remember that Relocating Well is done best, Together!