Finding the Right Private School
DECIDING TO SEND YOUR CHILD TO PRIVATE SCHOOL REQUIRES SIGNIFICANT CONSIDERATION AND RESEARCH.
Many schools are available that offer a variety of components you may be looking for, such as its philosophy and mission, quality of academic opportunities, or for the religious education it provides.
After determining whether to send your child to private school or not, the next potential challenge is determining the best school suited to your child.
“Instead of just looking at the raw data, parents should instead ask themselves what type of schooling they are looking for, for their child,” says Mark Dynarski of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institute. He also notes, “If you have a child who wants to study the arts, theater, music, or other such subjects, a private school may be a better fit.”
Though choosing a private school for your child can be overwhelming, there are things to consider to make the process easier.
Here are some tips to get you started with the process.
Do your research and visit multiple schools.
With so many prestigious schools to consider, it’s easy to receive advice from the people you know and trust within your community. Though this could be a practical and trustworthy approach, relying solely on word of mouth could potentially be risky. It’s also important that you, as the parent(s), determine the best decision for your child/childrens’ education. Become familiar with each school of interest and its daily operation. Visit the schools’ websites before your in-person visit. While visiting multiple schools, certainly, you can assess if a school is operating efficiently. Also, if the grounds and facilities are well maintained, it’s a friendly and professional environment—those are common things to consider. However, going beyond what’s visible is crucial. Ask detailed questions such as: how long has the headmaster or headmistress been in office, is there a strategic plan in place, when was the school last accredited, how large is the endowment, what is the number of faculty with advanced degrees, and what is the staff turnover?
Consider the reputation and achievements of the school in the community.
Connecting with other parents in the community is a great way to determine how a school is performing. If you know parents whose children are attending private schools of your interest, communicating with them regarding their reputation and achievements could provide you with a lot of insight. Based on conversations, you can gain valuable information to assess how the school is functioning, and if it’s potentially the right fit for your child/children.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to find out about professional development opportunities for teachers that impact learning in the classroom. What ways do teachers collaborate that shows a team effort for the success of the institution? Also, find out what are some of the school’s greatest accomplishments. Do they have an overall high percentage rate for SAT and ACT scores, do they have competitive programs in which a high percentage of students excel? Though determining the positive aspects of any private school is reassuring, it’s also important to find out some of the biggest challenges a school faces. These are probing questions that are significant to consider while evaluating the accomplishments of any school.
Look at the variety and quality of extracurricular activities.
Having a wide variety of activities offered at private schools ensures that every student’s area of interest is fulfilled. There are several ways your child can benefit by participating in extracurricular activities. Participating in activities that they’re passionate about can increase their brain function, concentration, and time management. Thus, increasing grade performance. Likewise, engaging in activities boosts self-confidence and social opportunities. For example, if your child is good at math and is encouraged to be part of a math club and realizes how good they are, it gives them confidence and opportunities to meet friends.
Evaluate the financial obligations.
Private school tuition can be expensive, especially for families on a budget. While choosing the right school that your child can thrive in, it’s essential to evaluate the costs that could potentially impact your household obligations. Investing in your child’s education not only requires serious consideration, but planning as well.
Here are some ways to afford private school tuition: Get on a payment plan. Paying an entire year of tuition could be extremely overwhelming. Instead, requesting a payment plan alleviates the stress of paying one lump sum. Look for ways to save money. If private school tuition is going to leave you in financial distress, it’s necessary to create a detailed budget that includes living expenses. Along with that, avoid eating out, limit driving, and cut down on entertainment costs.
Decide what’s best for your family.
While every aspect might point to private school as being the right fit for your child, consider the various implications on your family and you. The decisions that impact your household should be discussed with your immediate family—your significant other and children. Though it’s rational to solicit advice from extended family and friends, the outcome will not directly impact their family. Every family’s situation is different, and what works for another family may not work for you. Selecting the right solution for your entire family will be a benefit for everyone involved, so weigh your options carefully.
Make your decision.
Finally, after you’ve done your research and considered everything that’s involved (the pros and cons), make an informative decision. Keep in mind, if you’ve thoroughly researched and planned, take comfort in knowing that you’ve made the right decision.
Choosing the best school can be successful if you prepare early and prioritize your child’s needs. Be sure to ask a lot of applicable questions and learn as much as you can about each school of interest. The more knowledge you have will allow you to make an informative decision based on your findings.