It's a big step sending your darling off to private school. She will probably survive the transition just fine. But how about you? How will you restrain yourself and avoid being an over-protective or helicopter parent? Let's look at how to cope with private school at four grade levels.
When you send your baby off to preschool or nursery school, you will go through all kinds of angst. Especially if she's your first child. Or only child. You can offset much of the worry by selecting your preschool or nursery school carefully. The best schools will be hard to get into. Places will be limited. But once she's accepted, then determine how you can be helpful without getting in the way. Most schools will welcome assistance with everything from class activities to fund raising. The key is to stay involved as a team player rather than as the leader which you are probably accustomed to being.
This is where things begin to get interesting from a parenting perspective. Why? Because the elementary years are the time when most children learn those core skills which cast the die for a lifetime of learning. If you have been serious about parenting, you taught your child to read ages ago. Probably when she was two or three years old. You limited her television watching and video games so that she developed her imagination and ability to experience situations vicariously. That worked well in your home. But now she is surrounded by children raised in different kinds of households.
Once again, just like with preschools and nursery schools, you can head a certain amount of worry and concern off at the pass by selecting your child's elementary school carefully. One of the things you need to look for is an educational philosophy and approach which is closely aligned with your own. When the inevitable question arises as to why her friend Rachel is allowed to stay up after 9 p.m. or is allowed to watch programs which you consider inappropriate, well, then you need to explain simply why she may or may not do certain things. Always project love and concern in your explanation. Being dictatorial will send the wrong message. Neverthless, stand your ground. You, after all, know what is best for her.
Ah! The pre-teen years. Plenty to worry about, of course, but the truth is that these years are fundamentally shaped and influenced by the foundations which you have laid in the primary grades. Having said that, you will need a school which offers skilled, engaging, compassionate teachers who can be evaluated from every angle. That's what middle school students are always doing, aren't they? Always seeing where they fit in, trying to fit in, learning how to fit in. When they see a math teacher coaching the lacrosse team, a lot of things suddenly fall into place. That is definitely a huge advantage that private schools have over their public cousins. Teachers teach in a private school but they also mentor and coach. Seeing and interacting with adults in a variety of settings helps middle school children build their own personal confidence. A child who believes in himself can accomplish just about anything.
Ideally, your child's high school years are all about serious academics. It's a time to stretch that brain. It's a time to let her get her arms around some meaty ideas and issues. As you select a private high school, be tolerant and open. While you may want her to be a doctor, let her explore all kinds of career options. A school which offers Chinese as well as some world-class theater training might be just what she needs. Have those discussions before you select a school.
What about drugs and sex and all those other teen issues out there? How do you protect your darling at this stage? For starters, the school will have a zero tolerance policy about substance abuse and all those other issues. There will be workshops, discussions and fora of all kinds. Teachers and staff don't miss much in a private school setting, so she won't slip through the cracks 99% of the time. You will be summoned the moment something isn't right. Be assured of that.
The bottom line is that at every stage of your child's education you need to be alert, involved and supportive. Don't be controlling. Gradually loosen the reins so that your child understands how to make choices and decisions as well as how to abide by the consequences of those choices and decisions. If she gets the idea that mommy will always be there to fix things, you will create an irresponsible adult. If she gets the idea that mommy will be supportive rather than judgemental, you will create a responsible, loving adult.