Choosing a Private School
Parents have many reasons for deciding to take their children out of public school and enrolling them in private school. This circumstance is something which can happen at any stage of your child's education. You could face this issue as early as nursery school or as late as high school, or even somewhere in between.
Recently I spoke with a mother who had taken her son out of a Montessori school and put him in the local public school. The problem with the Montessori school was the teacher. The public school worked fine for one year. Her child loved his new teacher, and the new teacher seemed to love her children. Ironically the public school teacher seemed to do a better job of following the child than the Montessori teacher did. Considering that following the child was one of Dr. Maria Montessori's principal tenets, you would have thought that the Montessori teacher could have gotten that right. In any case, his mother reported that they had one good year. Her son was happy. The teacher was happy. All was going well. Unfortunately, during the second year, things began to unravel, largely due to an inflexible teacher who expected all the children in her rather large class of 25 first graders to march in lockstep.
Against that backdrop, let's you and I explore a couple of typical scenarios where a change of schools just might be the only answer for your child.
Your child does not fit in.
So, you have decided that your
Many parents search for an answer to the question "How do I provide the kind of religious education I want for my child?" Religious education is a very personal, subjective matter. When it comes to religious education one size most definitely does not fit all. Each of us has a very clear idea of what we expect. Much of our thinking is driven by the obvious reality that religious education is not an option in our public schools. Religion and Public Schools from the Center for Public Education explains the legal reasons why. So, with this requirement in mind let's explore your options.
Three Categories of Religious Schools
I have been in your shoes when it comes to deciding what kind of religious education our children should have. We are Episcopalians so we wanted schools which embraced that denomination's teachings. Kent School fit the bill for eldest daughter. Youngest daughter attended Westminster School which again fit our needs at the time. Our sons attended St. Anne's School in Nassau, Bahamas when we lived there. That was an Anglican school, Anglican being the British version of the Episcopal church.
To make things a little easier for you I have divided religious schools into three broad categories or strengths if you will: light, medium and strong. Essentially all I am doing is categorizing the intensity of the religious instruction and observances which schools in each category offer. Obviously there will be some overlap because private schools are intrinsically unique. That's just
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 at 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 which 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.
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 websites. 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 checklist. 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 what your