What to Research Before Choosing a Private School

When making an important decision that will impact the lives of your children, you need to have all the facts in place. 
 
Aside from the basic questions of cost and affordability, there are many different factors to consider when choosing where to educate your kids. “Selecting a private school, like so many things in life, requires care and attention to detail,” believes Judi Robinovitz, Certified Educational Planner and Founding Owner of Score At The Top Learning Centers and Schools.
  
We compiled a list of the most important factors to consider when choosing a final private school for your child. 
 
Academic Style 
 
The #1 reason parents invest in private school is to get the best possible education for their children.  Keep in mind that not just raw academic strength is important, but the style of the learning environment, and if it meshes with your child’s personality. We are learning more and more that each student learns in different ways, and responds to different types of teaching styles. Some children may thrive on competition while others succeed under reduced pressure. Others may learn quickly and need more advanced subject matter, while their contemporaries struggle with the basics.  
 
Mike Weagley, CEO of elite tutoring service Lotus Prep, suggests that parents ask themselves, “Is the school too hard or too easy for my kid? Does my kid flourish in a looser atmosphere or a more structured, rigid one? Is the school a pressure-cooker or Zen-like?” Learn how teachers structure their classes,
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This article is a companion article to How Do They Teach? which discusses what goes on in private school classrooms. This article explores the academics and other material which schools actually teach.
 
When we parents first start thinking about sending our children to private school, one of the first questions which comes to mind is the teaching content. What exactly will the schools you are looking at teach? Obviously with thousands of private schools I cannot address all the permutations and variations which exist. So I thought it might make sense for us to look at several educational approaches and methods and see what they teach. That will at least give you a starting point for some in depth exploration of what they are teaching at schools you might be interested in.
 
Toddler
 
The wee ones won't be at school for very long on a daily basis. Apart from that the teachers will create a rich environment to peak a child's interests. Development of fine and gross motor skills are a focus as are language and speech skills.
 
Prekindergarten
 
Most prekindergarten programs focus on preparing their students for kindergarten. Look for the development of motor skills and teaching children how to socialize. Also look for play-based lessons and an emphasis on collaboration and teamwork and listening. Building on the excitement of discovery is another component in the prekindergarten teacher's portfolio of skills. Children learn by doing. Your child should have lots to do balanced of course with snacks and quiet times. Here
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I wrote Part 1 of What Do I Do When...? a few years ago. It contained eight questions and my answers. Here are another ten questions. If you think of any other questions which you would like answered, all you have to do is to tweet them to me @privateschl I will give them my best shot.
 
So, here goes Part 2 of What Do I Do When....?
 
What do I do when....
 
I can't decide whether to send my child to private school for the early years or for the high school years? Which is more important?
 
There are two schools of thought on this subject. Some parents feel that the early years give their children that solid educational foundation and love of learning which is so desirable. Other parents feel that an intense three or four years of high school college preparation is what their children need. Still others send their children right through from prekindergarten through to twelfth grade.
 
I want my child to have a religious education?
 
Our faith means so much to us. We have raised our children to be observant and to practice our religion. I hear you and in this situation your best option will probably be a private religious school. The biggest obstacle which you will face has to do with the available options in your area. Private schools exist in just about any faith you can think of. They also exist in various levels of orthodoxy within those faiths. Most religious schools will be
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I am always sad to hear parents rule out sending their children to private school because it is too expensive. The conversation usually begins with one of these facts as the reason for considering private school:
 
1. Their child is gifted.
2. Class sizes in the local public school are way too large.
3. Their child has a learning disability.
 
Any one of these reasons is a valid reason for considering private school. But, unfortunately, that is as far as considering a private school gets in most cases. Why? Because either the parents assume that they cannot afford private school or they looked at the page on a school's web site showing tuition and fees and panicked. 
 
Considering sending your child is a major decision. As with any major decision, it makes sense to do your due diligence before ruling anything out. When you take time to do a thorough investigation of the facts, as opposed to your assumptions, you just might be pleasantly surprised at what you discover. That applies equally to paying for private school.
 
Here then are six ways you can pay for a private school education. One just might prove to be the answer you are looking for.
 
1. Write a check.
 
Some people can afford to write a check for their children's private school tuition. If you are in a position in life where you can do this, don't forget to ask about a cash discount. Most schools will be thrilled to get their money up front. The usual practice is to
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Cristo Rey schools are unabashedly Roman Catholic. Through and through. They teach Catholic values and religious beliefs. But they do something more which is both unusual and significant. Cristo Rey schools serve students from low income families in urban areas who could not otherwise afford a private school education. The way the Cristo Rey schools do this is to combine a work study program with the academics, sports and extracurricular activities the schools offer. Simply put, the Cristo Rey schools offer a quality education with a work study component.

History
 
The Cristo Rey schools got their start back in the 90's in Chicago. The Catholic academic scene was a familiar though depressing one. The diocesan high schools were facing serious financial challenges. Those schools had always been the ray of hope for struggling lower income families who dreamed of an education for their children. The Catholic schools run by the various orders were in good shape because they attracted a clientele which could afford the substantially higher tuition which those schools charged. The Jesuits met with parishioners in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago and asked what they needed most. "A good high school" was the unequivocal response. This short video clip shows what the Jesuits did.
 
 
The Program
 
As noted above Cristo Rey schools have a work study program which is an integral part of the life and rhythm of each school. Students work the equivalent of 5 days a month. The school arranges the students' work
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