As you consider sending your child to private school, think about these five factors which make for a successful private school experience.
The right school
With dozens of private schools to choose from, choosing the right one is probably the most crucial item on this list. Which is the right school? You'll know it when you visit it and talk to the admissions staff. It's the school which best meets your requirements as a parent and the requirements of that precious cargo which you are about to entrust to the school.
You can review the statistics and data
about the school. You can determine that its philosophy and educational mission align with your goals and objectives. But the real question is how will your child fit in. If you feel good about your answer to that question, you are all set.
The right sports
As you review private schools, you will begin to realize that each school is unique. The facilities and programs
are different at each school. Yes, each school may have a hockey team, for example, but at what level is the hockey actually being played? What's the coaching staff like? Sports are an integral part of most private school programs. But, as with everything else in this process, assume nothing. Investigate the sports offered, the level of the programs offered and the facilities. Your child will spend from 6-12 hours a week playing sports. Make it the best experience possible so that you set healthy habits in place for her adult life.
The right extracurriculars By now you are beginning to understand that a private school is a complete package: academics, sports and extracurricular activities. Your child deserves as well-rounded approach and balance in her young life. Why are extracurriculars important? After all it seems that extracurriculars are among the first things to go by the boards in public schools when the money dries up.
The truth is that extracurriculars like forensics, drama, chess and so many more activities, stimulate a young mind. They expose your child to options she perhaps hasn't thought about. Who knows! She may even have one of those 'Eureka!' moments when she discovers her true calling in life. In any case the depth and breadth of a school's extracurricular activities are part of what make it the right school.
Doesn't every teacher care? Not exactly. The thing about private school teachers
which sets them apart from their public school counterparts is that they really do care. The school makes very sure that they do care. If they don't, they will be asked to leave. Private school teachers are not unionized and can be dismissed for reasons and conditions which are spelled out very clearly in their letters of agreement with the school.
Caring is not the same thing as hovering, mind you. You won't find a private school teacher smothering your child. Instead she will be directed and guided so that she can blossom into the confident, articulate young adult you always knew she could be. Private school teachers have another advantage over their public school brothers and sisters: they are responsible for coaching a sport or directing an extracurricular activity. So your child gets to see her social studies teacher in a whole different light when she sees him coaching her field hockey team.
An education for life
Yes, test scores can be important. Same thing with getting into a good college. But what a private school is really all about is getting an education for life
. What do we mean? Your child will face challenges and situations in her adult life which you and I cannot even begin to imagine. Just look at all we have faced in the past 30-40 years or so. The world seems to be morphing at warp speed. Your child will hopefully emerge from her private school experience with that wonderful combination of creativity, confidence and accomplishment which will allow her to face whatever comes her way with equanimity, grace and aplomb.