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:
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
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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
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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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Montessori schools enjoy an enthusiastic following with approximately 4,000 certified schools in the U.S. Most of these are private schools. Only about 200 public schools use the Montessori method. Because Dr. Maria Montessori did not trademark the name Montessori, any school can claim to be a Montessori school. Just because it says it is a Montessori school does not mean that it is the real thing.
 
You will know that you are in a Montessori school when you observe or detect the following features.
 
The teachers are not teaching.
 
It sounds like a contradiction, doesn't it? Teachers not teaching? That's because Montessori teachers don't run their classrooms in a conventional manner. You won't see desks lined up with children sitting watching and listening to a teacher at the front of the classroom.
 
The International Montessori Index explains how this works:
 
"Except for infant/toddler groups (Ratio dictated by local social service regulations), the teaching ratio is one trained Montessori teacher and one non-teaching aide to 30+ children. Rather than lecturing to large or small groups of children, the teacher is trained to teach one child at a time, and to oversee thirty or more children working on a broad array of tasks. She is facile in the basic lessons of math, language, the arts and sciences, and in guiding a child's research and exploration, capitalizing on his interest in and excitement about a subject. The teacher does not make assignments or dictate what to study or read, nor does she set a limit
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Michael Winerip's article on the cheating scandal in Philadelphia public schools underscores one of the intrinsic differences between public and private schools. Private schools do not have to teach to the test. Public schools do. That is as a result of The No Child Left Behind legislation which required that mininum test scores be attained, among other requirements. The consequences for not achieving the benchmarks are serious. The net result is that some unethical teachers and administrators are alleged to have cooked the books in the Philadelphia schools. And they got caught. A similar situation occurred in Atlanta's public schools
 
Private schools are not covered by NCLB. Consequently they do not have to teach to the test. So how are private schools held accountable? By you their customers. Parents and students. Simply put, if you are not satisfied with the job your private school is doing, you have the freedom to withdraw your child and put her in another school.
 
Private schools meet or exceed state academic standards.
 
The curriculum which each private school uses is chosen by the school. It is not dictated by the state or some other authority. The states generally require high school graduates to have a certain number of credits in core subject areas. But how those core subjects or any other subjects are taught is entirely up to the school. (That's why it is so important for you to choose a school whose teaching methods and curriculum most closely
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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.