It is a scenario which plays out more often than you might think. You have been looking at your child's high school with a certain amount of trepidation. A couple of concerns keep bubbling to the surface of your thinking. For one thing, the school is very large. While the students get a relatively good education according to the statistics which you have seen, still you have that persistent, nagging feeling that your child deserves more. Her school offers about a dozen AP courses. There are still some clubs and other extracurricular activities available. The sports program seems to focus on the football and basketball team. The other factor influencing your decision is that you both work. Frequent business travel has become a regular feature of your life and looks as though it will continue for many years to come. The bottom line is that you want your child to attend private school because it will solve some of these problems and correct some of the deficiencies in her current public education. But how are you going to convince her to go along with you? Let's look at some strategies and approaches which work.
This short video illustrates some of the reasons why parents consider sending their children to private school.
Don't dictate what is going to happen.
The quickest way to turn your child against any idea, no matter how rational and well-intentioned that idea may be, is to dictate. Telling her that she will be going to private school will probably not get the result you want. Think about her feelings. She has friends. They may not be the friends you might prefer her to have, but they are friends nonetheless. Sending her to private school changes the balance of her comfortable little world. Remember that teens are particularly sensitive to change. Take her out of her comfort zone and she will be most unhappy. Dictating occasionally has its place in parenting. However, most of the time we parents are trying very hard to enable our children to make think through situations clearly and logically so that they make good choices. That requires our loosening the reins a little. Just to cement my point securely in place, telling your child that she is going to private school is probably not a good way to handle things.
She must buy into the idea.
The minute your child decides that going to private school is a great idea, indeed her idea, you will be set. I realize that I sound like a manipulating adult, but that's pretty much what it takes to achieve your goal. Neither can you present the idea to her like you present a proposal to a client. You must be subtle to achieve your goal. Try exposing her to the advantages of going to private school. Do it obliquely. Leaving a couple of private school catalogs lying around on the kitchen counter or coffee table is a bit obvious. How about taking her to see your niece Millicent in that equestrian show at St. Swithin's next Saturday? It's a two-hour drive but probably a good investment of your time.
Dr. John Gray explains how to communicate effectively with your teenager.
There are several approaches you can take. If you or your spouse has had a promotion and the new job requires more travel and less quality time at home, lay out your concerns. Do it while driving around doing your Saturday errands. Stop for a coffee and sit down to enjoy a precious few moments with this rapidly-growing child of yours. If you listen to what she is talking about, you might hear an opening for discussion of school. Seize that opportunity to begin the discussion. On her terms.
Now, if your child is struggling academically, then attending private school usually is an easier thing to sell. The discussion might begin with the fact that failing grades in math and science will limit her choices when it comes to getting into college. It shouldn't take much to convince her that the one-on-one help which she will receive in the small classes in a private school will be a good thing.
Is your child gifted?
That is also another clear-cut reason for suggesting that she go to private school. Many times gifted children - also known as nerds - can have a tough time fitting into a socially stratified public high school where you are a jock or a geek or a loser. Those kinds of labels just won't fly in a private school. Tolerance and appreciation of learning differences and styles are much more prevalent in a private school community simply because the community doesn't have to deal with student rights and due process. When you sign the contract with a private school, those rights you might have had in a public school are replaced by something known as contract rights. The contract details very clearly the consequences of not living up to the terms of the contract. Private schools have zero-tolerance for students who break the rules. In other words, it's cool to be smart in a private school. It's just part of what private schools are.
This TEDxTalk offers some insights into gifted children.
Does your child have learning differences?
This once again is a sound reason why private school would be a good choice for him. For example, If he has struggled with dyslexia, he will feel much more comfortable, indeed 'normal', when he is being taught by experienced, highly credentialed teachers who understand what he is coping with and know how to remediate his syndrome. Teachers such as these work in very small groups and in many cases 1 on 1 with students.
Does your child excel in the arts or sports?
It shouldn't be too difficult to convince him to go to private school. Make it his idea by taking him to a concert or game at a private school. It could just be the eye-opening experience which he needs to make it his idea to go to private school.
I have one final strategy worth mentioning. The Bible wisely states that 'There is no prophet left without honor except in his own country and among his own family'. With that in mind, why not have a trusted family friend do the heavy lifting for you? After all, she is probably more credible than you are as far as your child is concerned. Then when your child announces that Aunt Sheila thinks going away to private school is a great idea, all you have to do is handle the details. The idea has been sold. Your child has been convinced to go to private school.
When your child decides that going to private school is a great idea - her idea - then you will have a happy child. That is your ultimate goal.
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