Private schools offer children substantial advantages over public schools. Class sizes are smaller, demonstrating more individualized attention by excellent educators drawn to schools by higher salaries and resources. They are also safer and offer special instruction in specific arts and sciences not found in broader educational programs.
Many parents turn to private schools to meet these educational needs and prepare their children for the rigors of higher education. Many private schools also cater to specific religious beliefs and values held dear by families.
Not all private schools are equal. Some will have better facilities and more qualified teachers than others. Also, tuition fees from school to school can vary greatly.
Here are some things to consider if you’re shopping for private schools for your kids.
One of the reasons for sending your children to a private school is to reinforce a set of values – both from the educators and faculty members who teach them and from the other students your child will grow up with. Shared values can be a powerful thing.
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This means that the first step is to find a private school that values the same things you do.
You will want to find out if the school is associated with a certain religion or denomination, of course, but also look in depth at the amount of religious education provided at the school. Some private schools include religion classes and worship services as part of the curriculum; others are less formal about their religious affiliation, focusing on providing a very high quality secular education and less on a specific church or creed. Some private schools are not affiliated with any religion at all.
Keep in mind that values cannot be judged by written statements alone. Consider how school employees and students live their lives, including the school’s reputation in the community, to make your decision.
Private schools can vary widely in the staff they employ. Some have degree requirements that go beyond what public schools require; others have more flexible education and training requirements.
If it’s important to you, you should find out about the credentials of the teaching staff. Know where they went to college and what degrees they hold, as well as whether they have any certificates and continuing education on the courses they teach.
Again, the school’s reputation will tell you a lot – perhaps even more than the diplomas on paper – so ask around to see what people in your community think of the school’s teachers and administrators. .
Before choosing a private school, you should plan to make at least one in-person visit for a day. Attend a few lessons and observe student behavior and how school staff deal with discipline issues.
Parents of current or former students should be able to give you the inside scoop on any concerns that exist among the student population, so ask around. No school has perfect students, of course, but some do better than others at solving problems.
Whether the school uses a strict disciplinary approach or a more relaxed style, you need to be sure that your child will be in a safe and comfortable learning environment at all times. Watching how students interact during and after school can give you insight into this.
If you’re considering sending your child to a private school, chances are it’s ultimately to give them more opportunities in life.
The specific school you choose can have big implications for the opportunities that will open up for your child later in life, from college entrance to extracurricular activities like music and sports.
Ask if the school has data on the percentage of its students who are accepted into college. Some private schools have a long track record of preparing students for prestigious universities later in life.
You should also pay close attention to which extracurricular activities are available now and which will be available in the future.
Your third grader might not think much about athletics right now, for example, but a football, soccer, or basketball team might become very important to them as they get older. A private school that offers plenty of well-managed extracurricular activities will open up more options for your child in middle school and high school.
By carefully considering the values, staff, students and opportunities that are offered, the choice for your child’s education should become clear.