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:
I am often asked what benefits there are for parents when they send their children to private school. The quintessential "What's in it for me?" is a legitimate question. After all you are thinking about sending your baby off to a school where you are being told she will work hard, learn how to get along with others and be involved in all kinds of activities. And it is going to cost you a small fortune to boot.
Your concerns are well-founded. So against that backdrop let's examine what I personally consider to be the three main benefits for us parents of sending our children to private school. Lest you think that I am speculating or theorizing, all four of our children went to private school. All grades too. Nursery school. Elementary school. Middle School and high school. So I speak from my own experience as a private school parent. 

1. Knowing that your child will receive a comprehensive education: academics, sports and extracurricular activities.
 
 
Private schools educate the whole child. Educating the whole child requires an integrated program of academic studies, athletics and extracurricular activities. Essentially a private school is going to pick up where you left off when you sent her to school. 
 
You have invested some serious time raising your child. Remember how you did it? Always a variety of activities. Always encouraging your child to do things she didn't know she could do. Always stimulating that little mind. Always inculcating a love of . . .read more
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.

The research
 
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 . . .read more
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 natural materials . . .read more
When you compare public and private K-12 schools, there are several things in public schools which you will not find in private schools. Those points of comparison are points which parents consider when thinking about sending their children to private school. Large class sizes, lack of consequences for unacceptable behavior, lack of parental involvement as well as cuts to activities and programs are not things which you will commonly find in private schools as a rule.
 
Large class sizes
 
Teaching a large class of students, say, 30-40 students of any age, creates all sorts of classroom management issues for even the most experienced teachers. Maintaining control over a large number of students is possible but decidedly difficult. As a result one of the reasons parents send their children to private school is for the individual attention which small class sizes afford. It is relatively easy for a child to hide in a large class. That's not so easy to do when you have 12-15 students sitting around a table with their teacher. After all 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. You sent her private school so she could learn.
 
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 . . .read more
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 full-time job. Now contrast that with the kind of life and activities which your child can have at private school:
 
 
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 . . .read more
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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.