One of the top questions on this site goes something like this: "I'm moving to (name your city) next summer. Can you recommend the top schools in that area?" My standard reply suggests that the writer engage an educational consultant to assess the writer's specific requirements and make appropriate recommendations. I also send along a link to that state or city, as the case may be, so that the writer can get some idea of the diversity of private schools in that area.
Many people think that I am copping out by not making a recommendation or ranking private schools. My reasons are simple: I am not a professional educational consultant. I am an impartial observer of the private school scene, both at home here in the United States and abroad. I maintain a reference site so that you can find a school online and make further inquiries based on that information. I editorialize on trends and happenings in the world of private K-12 education. That's all I do.
Private Schools Cannot Be Ranked.
Why are there no rankings on this site? I maintain that it is impossible to do. I have given it much thought, but I always come back to my experience forty years ago when we were looking for schools for our two daughters. It came down to one thing: the right fit. One size does not fit all when it comes to educating your child.
Our eldest daughter was very competitive. She was also very strong, even gifted, academically.
Choosing a private school is a process with many parts to it. It also takes 18-24 months to complete. This collection of articles deals with the second part of the process in which you look at all kinds of private schools and see what they offer. I'll show you where to look for schools. I also introduce you to some of the things I think you should look for in a school.
What am I looking for?
If you don't know too much about private schools but are thinking that private school might be a good option for your child's education, here's how to get the search process started.
How To Search For Schools Private School Review has a robust search engine that will make your private school search process much easier to do. Here are some tips on how to use this tool.
Private School Search Tips We look at several ways you can use to search for private schools. Whether you are beginning the search process for a school for your child or just want to find out more about particular schools, we offer some tips and tricks to make searching more efficient.
The Search Process: A 5 Point Checklist Use this five-point checklist to keep your search for private schools organized.
This video offers an overview of The Madeira School in McLean, Virginia.
What kind of private school will work for me?
You have your own specific needs and requirements. So,
Google, Bing, and Yahoo will find anything you are looking for provided that you ask them correctly. The problem with these search engines is that if you aren't careful, you will end up with far too many results. And 99% of those results will not relevant to you and your needs. For example, when I search for "private schools" on Google, I get 1.5 billion search results. Nobody has time to look through all those schools. With that in mind, here are a few search tips to help you search more efficiently.
Save interesting sites.
Before we start searching for schools, take a few minutes to set up a Google or Word doc. Save interesting school websites for easy reference tomorrow, next week, or a month for now. Doing this will save you valuable time and keep your search process organized.
When you enter
Editor's note: In the following conversation, the parent is fictitious but her questions and my answers are real.
Parent: I am thinking about sending my teenage daughter to a private school for grades 9-12. How do I find the best school for her?
Rob K: Let me answer your question with another question. I know that I sound like an attorney by doing this, but I need to understand why you are thinking about sending your daughter to private school. Once you have told me your reasons, I will explain how to accomplish your goal.
Parent: My daughter's current school is OK. It's a public school which sends a large percentage of its graduates on to further education. So, that's OK. She's been with some of her classmates since kindergarten. Now I feel that she should be with other students who really want to learn. I also want her to be in smaller classes. She's one of 25 students right now. The other thing which concerns me is that the high school curriculum seems a bit thin, and is mostly focused on SATs and AP examination preparation.
Rob K: Now, you are giving me something to work with. Small class sizes are one of the main reasons most parents decide to send their children to private school. Most schools have 12-15 students per class. Your child will not just be a number in a small class. She will know everybody and everybody will know her. She will not be able to
When you plan your children's summer, you are giving yourself two gifts. The first is engaged, active, happy children. The second gift is the comfort of knowing that you are expanding their knowledge in an informal, supervised learning situation.
When I was growing up, my parents decamped every summer from Montreal to the shores of Lac Saint Louis about 30 miles west of the city. They rented a cottage across the road from the lake. We took swimming and sailing lessons at the Woodlands Yacht Club, helped with the large garden which provided vegetables and flowers during the short Canadian summer. It was idyllic and safe. The routine was pleasant and predictable. My parents were not rich. In the 1950s a lower-middle-class family of seven could make summers like the ones I have described above happen for a very low cost. Fast forward to the 21st century, that's essentially what the summer camps and summer schools which have sprung up over the past forty years do, namely, to provide an activity-filled day in a safe, well-supervised environment.
The most important caveat when it comes to selecting a summer program is to make certain that you understand all aspects of what is involved. Know everything about the quality of the activities, the supervision, snacks and meals, and all the other details. Assume nothing. Most schools and churches which run summer camps will be happy to answer your questions.
Now let's look at some of the options available to you at various