Thinking about sending your child to private school? There are many reasons why you should consider sending your child to private school. What is important as you begin this process is not to reinvent the wheel. Most of us parents have had the same concerns as you are having about your child's education. We all want our children to receive the very best education possible so that they are positioned for success in later life.
Start by writing down all the reasons which you can think of for wanting to give your child a private school education. Then compare them with my four top reasons for doing that.
1. You want your child to receive specialized instruction from well-qualified instructors.
For example, perhaps she has special needs.You can certainly arrange for your local public school to develop an IEP or Individualized Education Program for your child. This is mandated by a federal law known as Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. While your child's needs will certainly be identified and a program of instruction devised for her, you would be wise to explore the options a specialized private school offers. Why? Because depending on the public school district in your area resources often are spread very thin. When you send your child to private school for special needs, she will be taught by credentialled, highly skilled teachers and paraprofessionals throughout the school day. The small class in this photo says it all.
There are hundreds of private schools which specialize in teaching children with dyslexia, ADHD and learning differences. Class sizes are small. The schools can tailor programs to meet each student's specific needs. If your child learns differently, explore your private school options online. You will literally have hundreds of schools to choose from.
For the primary and middle school grades, it makes the most sense to find a school in your local area. For the high school grades going off to a boarding school which builds on the foundation you have carefully laid makes great sense. Teens are incredibly sensitive and insecure. Having learning differences in a school where they might feel uncomfortable or ostracized is not going to help them at all in later life. Being surrounded by a community of teachers, staff and students who will support your child and show her how to meet the challenges is probably a better solution.
Incidentally you should consult your tax adviser as it is possible that a portion of the special needs school's tuition may be tax deductible. I am not an attorney and make no representations about how tax law applies in this situaton. Ask your tax adviser.
2. You want your child to be able to take academic courses, Advanced Placement courses and/or International Baccalaureate programs which are not available in your local public schools.
Rigorous academic programs such as Advanced Placement courses are commonly found in private schools. Compare the AP courses offered in your local public high school with the courses offered at local day schools and also at boarding schools. There are some 34 AP courses. Most schools will offer between 10 and 20 AP courses to choose from. If you anticipate your child needing or wanting to take a not commonly offered AP course, a private school might be your best solution. AP courses are most effectively taught by trained teachers who are experienced in presenting their subject matter. Learning how to concentrate is another important by-product of working in a science lab.
The International Baccalaureate, as its name implies, has more of an international or global approach. The IB headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland. The IB programs cover both primary and secondary education. A school must be accepted and approved to offer the IB diploma programs. You can't just decide that you are going to take IB examinations. You must attend a school which offers the IB program. Interestingly enough, most of the schools offering the IB program are public schools. So, if you live in a part of the country where your local public school offers an IB program, you are in luck.
AP and IB are all about academic achievement and excellence. Children achieve academic excellence by stretching themselves, by studying harder and doing more academic work than they ever thought they could do. Learning to do your very best in grade school and high school is excellent preparation for later life.
3. You want your child to be educated according to specific religious beliefs.
This is frequently an important factor in deciding whether to send your child to private school. Religion is not part of a public school education by law. So, if bringing your child up with a strong religious education component is important to you, you will find many options available. Bear in mind that religious education varies from one private school to another. Some religious schools offer a heavy emphasis on education in their religious beliefs. Daily classes and worship will be a part of the routine and will be required. At the other end of the spectrum are schools which are affiliated with one religious sect or another. Many are even non-denominational. It is really up to you.
Do you want your child to receive her religious education full strength, medium strength or light? Private schools offer a wide variety of options. The only downside is that most religious schools are day schools. So where you live will be a determining factor in deciding which school is the best fit for your requirements.
Most schools which have a strong religious education component also have rigorous academic programs as well. But never assume that to be the case. Do your due diligence. Ask questions. Make sure that the school's programs and teachings match with your needs and objectives.
4. You want your child to be part of a strong sports program.
Regrettably athletic programs are being reduced or even eliminated in many public schools. These are tough economic times for most school districts. Sports and arts programs are usually areas where most districts feel they can cut expenses. On the other hand, private schools historically have made sports an integral part of their educational programs. Most private schools feel that sports are part of a balanced approach to education. Indeed, at the high end of the scale there are several private schools which have athletic facilities and programs which far surpass those found at many colleges. Rowing or crew is popular at many private schools.
But let's be clear about what you are looking for. If you just need sports as an exercise component in your child's education you will find that sports activity is available at just about every private school, both day and residential. But if it is a higher standard of play and performance which you seek, then you will want to examine individual athletic programs very carefully.For example, if you want your child to play varsity hockey or do crew, then do your due diligence carefully. Do that initial inspection online. In most cases schools will post news of their athletic events and scores almost in real time. You will find galleries of photos which will showcase the depth and breadth of school athletic programs. If you yourself are not an expert in the sport your child is passionate about, then seek the professional advice and counsel of somebody who is an expert. Getting your child into a school which you thought was the right one only to discover two weeks into the year that you have made a terrible mistake is not a good position to be in. Get that professional opinion before you commit to a school.
These then are my four top reasons why you should send your child to private school. There are other reasons, of course, why you might be considering private school. Factor those into your thinking as well.
Two last bits of advice: start the process of choosing a school as early as you can but not much later than 18 months before the fall entry date. Think about hiring an educational consultant. These professionals know their schools. Their advice and assistance will be invaluable as you work through the process of choosing the right school for your child.
Questions? Contact me on Twitter. @privateschl