Getting Started

In this section we offer a look into some of the most important factors of choosing a private school. Investigate single-sex education and read what students have to say, learn more about what is important when choosing a private school, and get valuable advice on transitioning to a new school.
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Myths, urban legends and just plain misinformation abound concerning private schools. That doesn't help parents who are thinking about sending their children to private school. So, let's shed some light on the facts you may not have known about private schools.

1. Private schools existed before public schools.

That's right! Back in colonial times education varied from colony to colony. The common thread that I was able to find is that education was stratified along class lines. Children from poor families were taught skills so that they could do a manual job and survive. Children from the upper classes received a basic education in literature, mathematics and religion. If their families could afford it, the boys might be sent off to boarding school in England. This stratification of education persisted until the late 19th century.

In those times upper class girls were given enough education to be able to run a household. But amazingly enough colonial families did have day care. They could leave their children at Dame schools, so called because a dame or lady would teach their children the basics such as their letters and some prayers while she tended to her household chores.

2. Private schools are set up in three main ways.

Many parents assume that all private schools are set up in the same way. There are a great many similarities and structures in common across the three principal ways most private schools are set up. And there are differences too. The most common kind of private

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A - Applying to private school

Applying to most private schools has become infinitely easier in the last 10-15 years. That's because you can apply online to most schools. When school's don't have online applications, they usually have all the application forms you need online so you can download them easily.

B - Be aware that diversity is an important part of private schools in the 21st century.

Yes, back in the 1950's and 1960's you might have been able to say that private schools were elitist. At least that was the perception the general public had of private schools. This perception, of course, was reinforced by the media. In the 21st century private schools have made diversity and tolerance the center of their mission and philosophy as most schools seek to prepare their students for life and work in a global community.

C - Competitive schools

Many parents have grand ideas about which private schools they want their children to attend. As a result they focus on the top 10 schools which receive 10 times as many applicants as they have places for. Having one very competitive school on your short list is a smart move when you also have two relatively safe schools on that list as well. Just as with investing, t makes no sense to put all your eggs in one basket.

D - Discipline is part of the deal.

Most private schools have discipline codes. These are carefully explained to every student at the beginning of the school year.

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This is a tough question for many of us teachers to deal with. Why? Because many of us are convinced that we don't need to update our skill-set now that we have found our dream teaching position in a wonderful school. We are set, right? Not exactly. As we all know things can change in a flash. Against this backdrop let's you and I explore your skill-set and offer some suggestions as to how to do some necessary upgrades.

Why do you need to upgrade your skill-set?

As I pointed out in the opening paragraph, your circumstances can change in a flash. The most common reason for suddenly needing a new teaching position is a major change your family circumstances. A member of your family who lives in another state has an accident or becomes seriously ill requiring your presence in the area. While you could take Family Medical Leave, it has become obvious to you that the best solution is for you to move closer to your family member so that you can supervise his care and generally be there for him. That means you will need to look for a new teaching job.

The important thing to understand is that life can deal some unexpected cards. You thought you were set. Suddenly you are not. That is the reason why you must upgrade your skill-set.

Does your skill-set need updating?

Assess your skill-set critically. When did you earn your degree? When did you last attend a regional or national conference in your

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You have started the process of choosing a private school for your child. You have done a bit of reading about the reasons for sending your child to a private school. You have listened to the suggestions and recommendations of family and friends. You have explored dozens of school web sites. None of this is particularly difficult to do. It just takes a lot of time, right? Not exactly. Here are five reasons why you might be looking at the wrong schools.

1. They don't offer the kind of curriculum you are looking for.

You need to think carefully about what is taught and how it is taught in each school. And you need to do this important bit of thinking well before you creating a short list of schools for you to visit. The school's curriculum, how it is taught and the quality of the faculty should be at the top of your check list. That's how important an issue this is as you go about choosing the right school for your child. Listen to the Head of the Math Department at Nichols School in Buffalo, New York explain the school's philosophy about teaching math specifically and teaching in general.

What makes this part of the process a bit daunting is that private schools are unique. They won't all offer the same courses and they most certainly will not approach teaching them the same way. By now you have a pretty good idea of

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The recent events at historic Saint Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire raise questions for those of us considering private school. The story was hard to miss as it seemed to air virtually non-stop for a week. Against that backdrop let's look at things from our parental perspective.

What are the odds of this happening in the school our children attend?

Probably not very likely at all. Statistically speaking, there are very few incidents such as this occurring in private schools annually. I searched carefully to see what I could find about private school scandals past and present. Honestly, there wasn't much out there, perhaps a handful or so of incidents annually. You can find the results of my search at the end of this article. The sensational coverage of the St. Paul's story tended to blow the incident way out of proportion in my opinion. I would think that the risk of similar events happening elsewhere is insignificant.

How could something like this happen in a private school which prides itself on 24/7 supervision of its students?

All private schools including Saint Paul's take their students' safety very seriously. In the case of boarding schools their responsibility extends to 24/7 supervision while the students are in residence on campus. With day schools things work a bit differently because school opens in the morning and dismisses at the end of the school day. As a result what happens in the late afternoon and evening is our parental

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Recent Articles
November 09, 2015
Myths, urban legends and just plain misinformation abound concerning private schools. We shed some light on the facts you may not have known.
October 04, 2015
This A-Z list is designed to make you aware of the many things involved in choosing the right school for your child.
September 20, 2015
It is easy to fall into the trap of not keeping your skill-set current. There's no time and no need anyway. We look at why you need to keep things current and offer some suggestions as to how to proceed.