Things to Consider When Choosing a Private School

One of the hardest decisions we must make as parents is finding the right fit for our children’s education. Sometimes our neighborhood school is just right. However, because children all have such unique learning styles and needs, you may find your child slipping through the cracks either academically, socially or both. In that case, it’s time to look into some new options. When doing so there are a few things to keep in mind. With some careful planning and a few school visits, you could find that magic puzzle piece that seems to connect all of your child’s educational and emotional needs together.

What Are Your Child’s Specific Learning Needs?
If there is one thing every educator will tell you it is that every child is unique in their educational and learning needs. It is important to identify HOW your child learns best before visiting any potential school.

  • Does your child need special accommodations to assist with a disability?
  • Does your child prefer group or team learning?
  • Is your child an independent thinker and need more space to learn at their own pace?
  • Is your child easily distracted and needs assistance to stay focused through creative approaches to learning?
  • Does your child need to be challenged on a greater academic level in order to stay engaged?

This list can go on and on. As a parent, it is important to identify your top priorities and focus on those key aspects. When touring each school, visit the classrooms to see if your student would “fit” or work well in the learning environment that is already established within the school.

Curriculum
It is important to ask about a school’s curriculum and what courses they have to offer. If your child is an advanced learner, you will want to ask about Advanced Placement (AP) courses and what is available. Perhaps your child is catching up a bit and they will need a stronger focus on College Prep (CP) classes. Either way, you will want to make sure they are offering the courses that your child needs for success.

The Extras
More than likely, your student will want to have options when it comes to extracurricular activities within the school. This could mean sports, clubs, events and community service. Choosing a school that has options that are of interest to your student is an important factor to consider. This also helps build your child’s confidence, social skills and even their character.

Distance
How far away from home is the school? This may or may not be an issue for some parents, however, it can cause some logistical issues. Some private schools offer transportation from a common location that may be closer to your home. If you are unable to drive your child to and from school every day, make sure to ask if they have transportation options to help make your child’s commute possible.

Cost
Let’s be honest. Private schools cost money. Can your family afford private schools? There are a few options for your family if you find that tuition just doesn’t fit into your budget. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to administrators about affording a school’s tuition. A great school WANTS to help your child grow and will help you find a way to make that happen.

  • Scholarship Opportunities – Most private schools have scholarships available to students and families. Be sure to inquire about those opportunities to see if your child might qualify. This doesn’t always have to be an academic scholarship. There are scholarships that are based on need in many schools.
  • Grants & Aid – There are many resources available for families to help assess financial situations and grant opportunities. FACTS is an organization that provides financial and data-management solutions that make quality education affordable. You can not only research grant opportunities through this group, but you can also set up tuition assistance and payment options that will meet your family’s budget.

Most schools will offer a “shadow day”. Because learning is about so much more than books, tests and grades, it is vital for your child to feel safe, welcomed and accepted by their peers. A shadow day will give them some insight on whether or not they would be a good fit.

Really take the time to find the school that will benefit your student and help them reach their educational goals. Always keep in mind that sometimes the school with the “best” reputation might not be the “best” fit for your child. Stay focused on your student’s educational needs, ask lots of questions and go in with an open mind to form an unbiased opinion on each school you visit.