Why Private School

A comprehensive look at private schools and why they might be right for your child. Explore the history of private school education, weigh the pros and cons of public vs. private school, and get valuable advice on making the best choice for your child. Learn more about the various types of private schools from military to progressive and review directories from a variety of resources including private school associations and offline publications.
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Books About Private School
What's private school really like? Find out from people who have been there.
What's private school really like? Find out from people who have been there. Lorene Cary's Black Ice makes compelling reading. She was one of the first African-Americans to attend an elite private school. It was a different world from the one she grew up in back in Philadelphia. The classic novel is J.D.Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. As fresh today as it was when written back in 1951, Catcher opens on Holden's last day in prep school. Fast forward a few years and Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep sits atop the New York Times Best Seller List. These books are well worth a read. Enjoy!

Academy X by Andrew Trees
ISBN-13: 978-1596911772

Black Ice By Lorene Cary
ISBN-13: 978-0679737452

Casualties of Privilege: Essays on Prep Schools' Hidden Culture  by Louis Crosier
ISBN-13: 78-0962767104 

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
ISBN-13: 978-0316769174

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
ISBN-13: 978-0545162074

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
ISBN-13: 978-0812972351

A Separate Peace by John Knowles
ISBN-13: 978-0743253970

Saving Miss Oliver's by Stephen Davenport
ISBN-13: 978-0976925521

The oldest American private school is Collegiate School in Manhattan founded in 1628.
Photo by L Downing
The oldest American private school is Collegiate School in Manhattan founded in 1628. Not surprisingly, the oldest schools are concentrated in the east in what were the original thirteen colonies. Most of the founders of these early schools were principled men with lofty ideals and purposes. Take John Phillips, for example.
 
"The founder of Phillips Exeter Academy defined its mission more than two centuries ago. 'Above all,' John Phillips stated, 'it is expected that the attention of instructors to the disposition of the minds and morals of the youth under their charge will exceed every other care; well considering that though goodness without knowledge is weak and feeble, yet knowledge without goodness is dangerous, and that both united form the noblest character, and lay the surest foundation of usefulness to mankind.' ....Academy Mission Statement
 
The Ursuline Academy was founded in New Orleans in 1727 because the Sisters of the Order of Saint Ursula were "Convinced that the education of women was essential to the development of a civilized, spiritual and just society." These schools are a lasting tribute to the vision of these early founders.
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Schools for the artistically gifted child are in short supply.
Schools for the artistically gifted child are in short supply. If you have a daughter inclined to things thespian or a son who sings, then you ought to consider a school which makes the arts its raison d'etre, a place where the arts are not just a pleasant extra curricular activity.
 
These specialist private schools arrange their academic day around serious time for the arts. Plenty of rehearsal time is a must. Exciting recital and performance opportunities abound. Expert instruction is de rigeur. On with the show!


Waldorf schools offer a well thought out approach to K-12 education.
Waldorf schools offer a well thought out approach to K-12 education. Unlike Montessori schools which focus on the primary grades, Waldorf schools cover all the grades. The Waldorf movement got its start with the writings and philosophy of Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925). Pictured on the right , Steiner was an Austrian born philosopher who founded a movement known as anthropsophy.
 
The essence of the Waldorf approach to education is its emphasis on developing a child's imagination and creative side. The Waldorf pedagogues prefer that young children never be exposed to popular entertainment such as television, popular music and computers. Competition is replaced with cooperation. Eurythmy, an expressive music cum dance art form, plays a central role in developing a child's artistic expression. The whole child is engaged at his own pace as opposed to being entertained by media in one form or another.
 
Another unique concept is that a teacher moves with the class over a four year cycle. Waldorf teachers are a highly skilled lot who have the ongoing development of their young charges at heart. Standardized textbooks are rarely used. Students create their own beautifully written and illustrated course books. Bilingualism is encouraged. Specialized teachers are introduced in the high school years to teach advanced math and science as well as languages.

A Waldorf education appeals to parents who embrace their responsibilities as parents for their children's education. Rather than let some government institution do the job, Waldorf parents are an integral part of the education triangle of home, school and child....
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Montessori schools are popular world-wide with parents of children in the primary grades.
Montessori schools are popular world-wide with parents of children in the primary grades.  Interestingly enough, theeducational concepts pioneered and codified by Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) decades ago to educate mentally retarded and uneducable children in the inner city have morphed into a kind of schooling generally available only to middle and upper class families nowadays.

Caveat emptor! Not every school which claims to be a Montessori school adheres to the founder's standards and methods. That is because the name Montessori has never been protected by trademark or copyright law. As a result, you can have a Montessori school of any strength of Montessori-ness you can imagine. In truth, the genuine article is a school which is a member of the American Montessori Society. It will have been officially sanctioned by the association. It will have certified Montessori teachers using Montessori methods and equipment. That is not to say that a school which claims to be a Montessori school but is not part of the national association is any less good or effective. That, as always, depends on the quality of the teachers and teaching. Just be aware that Montessori has become a household name, much like 'Xerox' is synonymous with 'copying'.

What, then, is so appealing about Dr. Montessori's methods? At the heart of her philosophy is the idea that children learn differently from adults and that they should be allowed to learn wherever and whatever their own innate curiosity inspires them to do. Learning by rote is eschewed....
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Why Private School

About Private Schools

An in depth look at private schools, including history, a comparison to public education, and a glimpse of what’s being taught. Learn about the benefits of attending private school, to both students and parents. Explore private schools options when living abroad, and debunk many of the myths regarding private school education.

Kinds of Schools

Private schools are just as varied as public schools. From Catholic to progressive, military to special needs, private schools offer a lot of options. Take a comprehensive look into the many types of private schools, weigh the pros and cons of each, and get helpful tips on choosing one that works best for your child.

School Life

Get a glimpse of private school life. Here you’ll find a survival guide for parents, brush up on terms and jargon, and learn why extracurricular activities are so important.

Directories

We offer several directories to aid in your choice of a private school. Included are quick links to national, regional and state associations, a list of offline resources to aid in our decision, and local school directories for several metropolitan areas.