Learn more about how to find and evaluate private schools. Find out why price should not be your only consideration. Get valuable advice on how to save time and money when choosing a school. Learn more about ranking schools and why it may not work.
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Beginning to think about your child care and preschool options? Some thoughts and guidance here.
You and I are going to take a quick look at the options available to us for educating our preschooler. The first thing to remember is that you are not alone. Tens of thousands of other parents are in the exact same situation you are in. You know that you have to find a safe, reliable, trustworthy preschool or child care center for your precious toddler. You are not quite sure how to assess and evaluate all the preschool and daycare options in your area. With these concerns and requirements on the table let's discuss how to proceed.
First, a factoid for you:
"According to the 1995 U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), over thirty-six percent of families of preschoolers with working mothers primarily relied on child care in the home of a relative, family day care provider or other non relative. Almost twenty-six percent of families used organized child care facilities as their primary arrangement."
Child Care Centers (Day cares): A widely available option
Decades ago when you had a child, mother stayed home and looked after the baby. Father went to work. In the 21st century that model seems so quaint. Also not viable. Most families need two or more incomes just to stay afloat these days. That's where daycare comes in. A good child care center will allow both parents to manage their busy schedules without too much worry.
How do child care centers work?
Most child care centers take infants from the age of six weeks.
Early on in the process of choosing a private school for your child you need to decide whether to send her to a traditional or non-traditional school.
Thinking about sending your child off to private school? Then you will need to decide which educational philosophy and approach works best for you. What it really comes down to is whether you want to send your child to a school that uses a traditional approach to teaching or one that uses a non-traditional approach.
In the public school world a traditional school is a regular public school and a non-traditional school is a charter school. That's not what I am discussing here with respect to private schools. The concept of a private school as an independent largely self-financing corporate entity does not change. You and I are going to focus on what is taught in the classroom and how it is taught.
The early years
Your child's age is a major factor when it comes to choosing an educational approach. For example, if you send him to a Montessori school as a toddler, you are exposing him to a non-traditional approach to education. It is an excellent approach and highly regarded. But non-traditional nonetheless. Start your child off in a Montessori, Waldorf or Reggio Emilia school and you will lay solid foundations for learning in later life. But visit a traditional private primary school and you will see a quite different approach to early education.
This short video compares and contrasts a progressive primary education with a traditional primary education.
Obvious differences will be the dress code. Uniforms are required at many traditional religious schools. The curricula follow
Journalists love to create lists because you and I love lists. But lists such as top ten private schools can be deceptive.
You have seen the articles in major publications such as Forbes and Chicago Magazine. "Top 10 Prep Schools" or "Best Private Schools in ____" These lists invariably contain the names of schools which are familiar. But are these schools the right ones for you? Let me explain why I believe that ranking private schools makes no sense for parents like us who are looking for the right school for our children.
A flawed premise
Ranking private schools is intrinsically flawed from get go. Why? Because each private school is a unique entity. The essence of being a private school is that it does its own thing. It accepts the students it wants to accept. It teaches the curriculum it wants to teach. It teaches that curriculum the way it wants to teach. Each private school has its own mission statement, philosophy, code of conduct, programs and traditions. So how is it possible to compare apples to oranges? That is essentially what ranking private schools attempts to do.
For example, look at all the features of Shattuck-St. Mary's. Maybe another school has some of the same features. Maybe it doesn't. It is up to you to determine what you expect from a private school.
Yes, you can compare things like the number of AP courses, varsity sports, extracurricular activities and so on. But you normally will make those comparisons when you are developing a short list of schools
The Internet has made finding schools and finding out more about them much more efficient than it was ten years ago.
In 2000 choosing a private school was at a crossroads. Back then you had the traditional ways of finding schools and finding out more about them. You asked around. Personal recommendations from family and friends were an important starting point. Indeed they still are. Then you contacted schools you knew about and requested a catalog or brochures. You could also buy a print directory of private schools, if indeed one was available. (I still have a vintage copy of The New York Times Guide to New York City Schools written by Grace and Fred Hechinger published in 1968.) And you could always hire an educational consultant. Researching schools was fairly labor intensive. It also took time.
It is remarkable how all that has changed in just a few short years. First schools adopted web sites as their primary means of reaching families world-wide. The transition from the printed materials to the digital media took time as there was a certain amount of worry about whether or not the web would reach families. As we adopted the web for just about all our day-to-day activities such as banking and shopping, looking for private schools on the web just made great sense. It is so easy and convenient.
Word of mouth
|Finding out more about schools||Request catalogs
Call the schools
Knowing what to look for and where to look
I think that the toughest part about finding anything on
Identifying schools which fit your requirements includes dealing with paying for that education. But don't just look at price.
It's certainly fun to navigate different private school sites and see what's out there. And you must do that, not only on your own, but with your child. For all sorts of good reasons. Remember: your child needs to buy into this important decision. It mustn't be a unilateral decision unless the circumstances are exceptional such as your requiring a school for special needs or a therapeutic school. In those situations, obviously you know best and will make the appropriate decision for your child.
There's another consideration we parents need to review carefully as we decide which private school is the best one for our children. And that's the cost.
But don't just look at the price! Why? Because there are several factors in play when it comes to paying for a private school education.
1. Financial Aid
Depending on your financial situation the school may offer you a financial aid package. This could well have the effect of making that school which charges $25,000 a year as affordable, for example, as the school which charges $18,000 but offers no financial aid. So, ask questions and get the answers you need about financial aid. Financial aid programs vary from school to school. Assume nothing. Ask.
2. Tuition Free Education
The other factor to consider is that you may be able to get a tuition free education at several schools. Exeter and Andover, as well as several other top schools, offer free educations if family income falls below certain thresholds. $75,000 is the figure
January 11, 2017
Letters of interest and cover letters are frequently used interchangeably even though they have different purposes.
January 03, 2017
When you visit schools, please don't make the following common mistakes. A little thought and preparation will help you make the best impression possible.
December 21, 2016
Bullying has gone electronic. It's called cyberbullying and it is rampant.