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.
View the most popular articles in Why Private School:
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Teaching Boys
Why teach boys in a single sex setting? The answer to this question and several others here.
Why teach boys in a single sex setting? Aren't boys' schools archaic and out of touch? Aren't boys more likely to succeed in a coeducational setting? What are the advantages of educating boys in a single sex setting? The answers to these questions and many more are varied, contradictory and subjective. Furthermore the amount of research into boys' education is fairly limited. With those caveats in place let's explore some sources and resources for those special corners of the education world which are boys schools.
 
A good starting point for our exploration of boys' schools is the IBSC. Just like the National Coalition of Girls' Schools is one of the major umbrella organizations for girls' schools, so the International Boys' Schools Coalition is one of the major umbrella organizations for boys' schools around the globe. It champions boys' schools. It encourages research on the education of boys. The IBSC terms its research papers Action Research Projects. Papers such as Teaching Boys at the Coal Face: Mining Key Pedagogical Approaches, Ready, Willing, and Able: Boys and Writing, Volumes I & II, Journeys into Masculinity, Positive Relationships, Positive Learning, Boys and Digital Literacy and Boys and Reading give you and me valuable insights into teaching boys. As you read these papers you begin to realize that the secret to boys' schools is that they are appropriate for many young men. Not all young men. But many. Boys' schools offer an approach to learning and character building devoid of...
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Why Waldorf?
Vicki Larson provides detailed answers to my questions about Waldorf schools.
I asked Vicki Larson to give us some detailed answers to my questions about Waldorf education. (I must disclaim that my eldest daughter attended a Waldorf school.) Vicki is Director of Communications and Marketing at Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge, New York. She is also the schools Alumni Relations Coordinator and Diversity Committee Chair. ~ Rob Kennedy

What sets a Waldorf school apart from public schools? Is it curriculum? Teaching style? Philosophy? Other characteristics?

The Waldorf curriculum differs from a public school or other independent school curriculum in philosophy, teaching style, and the kinds of relationships the students develop with their teachers and classmates. 
 
Philosophy: Uniquely designed to meet children at each developmental stage, Waldorf Education is based on child study and observation. Our academically challenging, arts-infused curriculum includes block-style learning and develops adults who have the opportunity to reach their full potential, excelling in many areas, unafraid to take risks as they work to solve problems. In our school environment, academic standards are rigorous and stress is minimized by strong relationships, ample artistic and physical activity, and opportunities for joy and discovery. Media and technology are managed very differently than in many other schools: they are introduced in an age-appropriate way and are understood and used as tools rather than ends unto themselves. Waldorf Schools do not "teach to the test" (as independent schools, we are often exempt from state testing, though most Waldorf students take the SAT and other standardized tests) and we prioritize experiential learning. We also believe that...
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You Won't Find....
You won't find several things in private schools which you will find in public schools.
You won't find several things in private schools which you will find in public schools. Large class sizes, no consequences for unacceptable behavior, uninvolved parents, and cuts to activities and programs are not things which you will commonly find in private schools.

Large class sizes
One of the reasons parents send their children to private school is for the individual attention small class sizes afford. You want your child to interact with her teachers. You don't want her to end up hiding in the back of a large class room. She's in private school because she wants to learn. So do her classmates.

When you have 12-15 students in a class, you really can teach. Discussions, analysis and explanations are much easier to facilitate with a smaller group. Everybody's opinion matters. From the teacher's perspective it is much easier to assess progress when you are teaching a small group. You can make eye contact with everybody instantly and determine whether they've got it and you can move on or whether you need to go back and reteach.

Small classes play to the reality that everybody learns differently. Students receive information in different ways. They process it differently. The skilled teacher is always assessing where her students are vis-a-vis the material being covered.

The other factor which is so important for effective teaching is that the class is homogenous in the sense that the students want to learn, they are not embarrassed to excel and they are unafraid to ask questions. Lots of questions. With...
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The Rumors About Private School are True
What is private school really like? Is there any truth to the rumors you keep hearing? Let's find out.
You want the best possible education for your child. The local school district is reasonably good but is facing some drastic budget cuts next year and, as far as you can tell, probably for many years after that. You don't want to sacrifice your child's educational opportunities, neither do you want to spend money needlessly on other educational options, such as private school or homeschooling.

Private school makes sense on so many levels because everything's there. Academics, activities, sports, facilities and staff are the key components of the package which every private school offers. In a private school the learning and the teaching are continuous. It doesn't matter whether your child is in the classroom or on the playing field, she will be learning.

Perhaps you are considering homeschooling. While homeschooling is doable, the onus is on you to track everything and make sure all the paperwork is completed and submitted and approved by local and state authorities. It's a lot of work. Indeed it is a fulltime job.
 
So, what about some of those rumors you have heard about private school? Are they true? False? Are things changing? Are private schools different from what they were fifty years ago? Well, things have indeed changed over that span of time. Most of what the popular media says about private K-12 schools today can be charitably categorized as misconceptions. Frequently features and articles about private schools are not based on facts.

Here are the facts. You decide.
 
1. Private...
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You Know You Are in a Progressive School When...
In many ways progressive schools epitomize the uniqueness of the genre of K-12 education known as private or independent schools.
You know you are in a progressive school when...

You don't see AP courses as part of the academic curriculum.
Until the middle of the 20th century many schools simply taught their students facts and figures. You memorized and regurgitated information. Indeed I can remember being taught this way at Rosyln School and Westmount High School back in the '50s and '60s. That's just the way you were taught back then. All of your academic work was focused on what you could expect to be tested on in your final year end exams. This all led inexorably to a forbidding set of examinations known as the Junior Matriculation. If you did well on that set of examinations administered at the end of Grade 11, you went off to university for more of the same.

Progressive schools by definition are schools which espouse the ideals and ideas of landmark educators and thinkers such as John Dewey and Francis Parker. At the beginning of the 20th century they were considered visionary by some, radical by others. The progressive curriculum was more varied and experiential. Students just didn't sit there passively listening to a teacher lecture about the material. They actually were encouraged to learn by discovery through a variety of hands-on activities. Teachers no longer had to get through a plethora of outdated materials simply to be able to say that they had 'covered' the required coursework. There was time to stop and explore. Have discussions. Stimulate analysis. Encourage critical thinking.

Naturally there was no...
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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.