What follows is a fictional interview. I wrote it to illustrate why some parents chose a specific kind of high school education for their child. The account is fictional to the extent that the parents I am interviewing in this article do not exist per se. However, the scenarios, facts and questions about private schools are ones which I have dealt with countless times over the years. They are real. Hopefully, you will find the answers in this interview both helpful and useful.
Helen, why did you consider sending your child to a boarding school?
My husband and I thought about sending our daughter to boarding school. Convincing her that boarding school would be the best option was a major challenge. However, with the help of our educational consultant and a couple of close friends whose children currently attend boarding school in Vermont, we were able to show her the incredible value a boarding school education offers.
What clinched the deal was the vast array of extracurricular activities which the schools we visited offered. We live in a very affluent area of Connecticut. The public schools are highly rated. But honestly, they offered fewer extracurricular activities than most of the boarding schools we reviewed. Our daughter is an avid swimmer and field hockey enthusiast. The athletic facilities and grounds at most of the schools we visited were superb. They contained state of the art equipment with professional athletic staff supervising their programs. That was very reassuring to us.
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
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. This brief video showcases Phillips Andover Academy.
D - Discipline is part of the deal.
Most private schools have discipline codes.
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