If you’ve laid in bed with the words public, private, charter, Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia and more swimming through your head — you aren’t alone. For many parents, one of the biggest decisions to make is figuring out where to send their child to school, and with so many options it can feel very overwhelming. If you’re thinking about private school for your child, here are some of the things you should consider, and the unique benefits of a private school education.
#1: Smaller Classrooms
Typically, private schools will offer smaller classes, which means more opportunities for one-on-one time with the student and the teacher. In this environment, it may be easier for students to participate in class discussions, and have their questions answered as they arise.
With fewer classmates, the teacher is also able to get to know the students strengths and weaknesses better than they may in a large classroom setting, and help to facilitate growth for the student on a more individual level. Smaller classes also can create more of a sense of community within the classroom and with peers.
#2: Aligns with Personal Beliefs
Some may choose a private school that aligns with their personal beliefs. There are many religions represented in the private school sector. In these schools, the students will receive excellent academic instruction in a faith-based environment that supports the values that are being taught at home.
#3: Exposure to the Arts and Extracurricular Activities
Many private schools have a strong emphasis on the arts and offer their students exposure to a wide range of opportunities. With fewer students, there is a potential for more opportunities for the students to participate in the activities they would like to try.
#4: A Strong Sense of Community
Because of the smaller class sizes and school enrollment, a strong sense of community is developed within the school. There is an emphasis placed on the teacher and parent relationship with many opportunities for parents and teachers to connect throughout the year. This also helps the parents to be involved in their child’s education when they are at home, as they encourage them to learn and foster a relationship that values and encourages their education.
In addition, parents are easily able to, and are encouraged to, participate in school activities and events. Many private schools also encourage students and families to serve in the community, extending the community feel outside of the building and into the neighborhood where the school is located. Some schools may even require their students to complete a certain number of community service hours.
#5: Provide an Enriched Education
Another benefit of private schooling is that many schools will offer classes or courses that are unique to their school, with a focus not only on education, but also on the child as a whole. Character development, personal growth, respect, empathy, self-control and wellness are just a few of the things that may be emphasized. In high school, they often will offer a wide variety of AP level courses, and encourage students to pursue a degree of choice upon completion of high school. Another plus is that private school students typically do very well on standardized tests and college entrance exams.
Finding the school that is the best fit for your child can feel like a daunting and overwhelming task. Be sure to visit the schools you are considering and ask questions that are pertinent to your family’s unique values, interests and priorities. Talk to friends and join online groups and communities for more personal information. And lastly, take a deep breath and find confidence in the fact that you know what’s best for your child, because nobody knows your child better than you do.
Charter Schools vs Private Schools
Charter schools are another educational option that many parents consider for their children. Although charter schools and private schools share many similarities, there are also some differences between the two.
“Both options have similar classroom sizes, teachers’ familiarity with students and families, and emphasis on academic attainment,” says Barb Richardson, director of advancement at Paramount Schools of Excellence, a charter with schools in the Brookside, Cottage Home and Englewood neighborhoods of Indy, as well as an online option. “A family can choose the school that best aligns with their child’s needs or strengths. Both options offer parents a choice to their child’s assigned neighborhood public school.”
However, unlike most private schools, charter schools are tuition-free. Charter schools are public schools, and they don’t require an admission process or entrance exam. These factors can be appealing to some parents who are looking for these options in a school for their child.