Whether it is preschool, elementary or high school, there are several issues to consider when choosing a private school for your children to attend. The priority of each of these items may depend on your reasons for sending them to the private school in the first place.
- Costs – Tuition is a main concern in this area, but it is not the only cost involved with private schools. Make sure you learn what other costs are involved. Is there a cost for books or supplies that you will need? What are the costs for meals and/or uniforms? Are there fees for participation in sports and other activities? What types of payment plans or scholarships are available?
- Transportation – Will your child be able to use public school transportation to get to and from school, or will transportation be solely your responsibility? Some public school districts have transportation reimbursement funds for parents who send their kids to private schools. Check to see if that is available where you live.
- Extra-curricular Activities – What types of sports, music and other kinds of extra-curricular activities are available through the school? What kinds of costs are involved for your child’s participation.
- Curriculum – What kinds of curriculum are used in the school? It will be important for you do some research on these answers to find out the benefits of different types. If your child will be transferring from another school, how will this curriculum fit into the type they have used in the past?
- Behavioral Standards – What are the rules of conduct for the school and how are they enforced? How much involvement is there for parents in this regard? These are important questions to ask.
- Religious Teaching – Many private schools are religious based. Ask about the theology of the school and how it is communicated in the activities of the school and the curriculum. Give careful consideration to any differences there may be with what your child is being taught at home or in your own faith association.
- Teacher Qualifications – Don’t make assumptions about the teacher’s qualifications, be sure to ask. Ask about their experience levels as well, and the student-teacher ratio for the classrooms.
- Teaching Approach – Some schools use different teaching methods than others. Montessori schools, for example, have a very unique teaching approach that is more geared towards individual learning levels. Other schools may use the traditional ‘desks in a row’ approach. Different teaching methods work better with different types of learning styles. It is important to consider how your child’s personality will respond to the school’s environment.
- Test Scores – Most private schools are happy to share the overall testing scores of their students. Take note of areas of strengths and weaknesses in these scores. How does the school rank among other schools in the area?
- Transitions – Few children spend their entire school years in the same school, transitions from private to public schools and vise-versa can be difficult and even traumatic for some children. The emotional climate and the academic structure is often very different. Just one more thing to think through before making your decision.
The choices regarding your child’s schooling will have a large impact on their daily lives and their entire future. It is not a decision to enter into without carefully considering all options.