The big factors that parents consider when they house hunt is the schools. 2020 update: How can parents help their children integrate into a new school system in the fall of 2020?

What would normally happen is that your child would go to school, meet children, and figure out who they want to be friends with. Or, during the summer, your child would go to parks or pools or activities and meet other children. You would meet the parents of their friends.

But, in 2020, it is going to go the other way around. Parents need to meet parents. Then, join socially distanced activities that can include your children.

Where do parents meet one another?

Find people you know who live in your new town. This is part of the work you did when you first chose this town, I hope. Ask those people who they know with children who are the same age as yours.

Many towns have Facebook pages, and Google groups for parents in the towns in this area. Some towns are more active than others. Find the parents’ list, like this one; I found it by a simple web search on “arlington parents list ma.”

NextDoor is a hyperlocal networking platform. Sign up for your new neighborhood. Facebook has local lists for parents in many towns. Search for your new town and the word “parent.”

Like any other virtual community experience, this takes some time. Listen in for a while, then start asking questions about activities that are safe for your child to attend. It will depend on what you think is safe. You may not want to do play dates in a park, or go swimming. But, you might be happy to find a book group or story time that is happening online. Maybe there is a virtual camp that is popular with children in your new town in the right age range.


Choosing a School District


If you put it off until next year to decide about moving for schools, there is research you can do now, without leaving home.

Public information:

The Department of Education publishes district profiles. To open a report card, write the town or district into the box for “Search for your Report Card.” Then use the hyperlinks below that to see the information. Within this data, you will find information about not only test scores, but stats on the qualifications of the teachers, socioeconomic data about the students.

Many, but not all, school districts keep a web page for their school data. Check for one in the towns you are considering. Do a web search for the term “school report card.”

2010 MCAS English scores

How to use:

The raw test scores will be higher in those higher-priced school districts. That’s just the way it is. The public information gives a picture of who the students are, and how they are learning.

Local opinion-makers:

Boston Magazine publishes an annual list of the best schools in the region. Your job is to find the balance between excellence and expense. This list drives perception significantly in our area.

Data aggregators:

Niche collect public, plus parent and student opinion information.

Public School Review collects public information and tracks safety issues in schools. Their blog focuses on safety and good parenting.


Discernment: what is important?

Like any other parenting decision, the best school for your child may be the most academic, goal-oriented, high test-scoring high school. Or it may not be. The size of the schools, the number of children in the class, the extra-curricular activities available, may affect your child more than the number of AP offerings in the high school.