The public school versus private school debate has been raging for years. Private schools account for almost a quarter of the nation’s schools currently, and in the 2013-2014 school year, there were almost 450,000 private school teachers, according to the Condition of Education 2016 report. Many parents of young students see private schools as a chance for a more rigorous academic program and the chance to make important connections. Often, a private school’s reputation precedes it, and attending such a private school can open doors that might not be possible otherwise. Private schools often emphasize the arts and becoming a well-rounded person, as Conchita Espinosa Academy does. They promote the development of a strong, healthy body, mind, and spirit, and emphasize the power of character, discipline, respect, and empathy.
What Should I Know About Private Schools?
There are over 33,000 private schools in the United States that teach over 5 million students from Pre-K through twelfth grade. Despite the popular culture portrayal of private schools, 96% of private schools are coeducational, with the remaining 4% split between all-girls’ enrollment and all boys’ enrollment (based on data from 2011-2012). Kindergarten tends to be the most popular grade level for private school attendance. In 2011-2012, almost 450,000 kindergarteners attended a private kindergarten.
If you’re not keen on sending your child away, don’t worry — many private schools are day schools, and others offer a mixture of day school and boarding school options. Private schools can also be more affordable than families may think and just like colleges, offer financial aid packages. Extracurricular activities — often including sports — are mandatory at private schools as well, giving children more exposure to different areas of interest and encouraging interaction among their peers.
What Are Some Benefits of Private Schools?
The small class size (and overall size) is often a huge draw for parents. Almost 90% of private schools have under 300 students and in the 2011-2012 school year, the average school size was under 150 students across all private schools.
The private school curriculum, whether at a private elementary school or a private high school, is also generally more rigorous than those found at public schools since private schools administer admissions tests that students must pass in order to enroll. Because the students are all starting at more or less the same educational level, lessons can be more tailored and begin at a higher level.
A private school may also offer more Advanced Placement courses, which can help your child get a leg up on college courses, and prepare them for the rigors of a college education. Some private schools may even offer an International Baccalaureate diploma program, which is an international curriculum that has its origins and base in Switzerland.
Private schools may also attract specialized teachers. Between 60% and 80% of private school teachers hold an advanced degree and they may be able to get in a high caliber of lecturers or guest speakers.
How Can I Find a Good Private School for My Child to Attend?
Figure out how your child learns best and what you want your child to learn. Take into account their social needs and the amount of time you can dedicate to accommodating extracurricular activities. If your child seems unstimulated by the courses they’re taking now, consider switching them into a more advanced private school setting.
Look at the courses offered by the school, the teachers’ credentials and their interactions with both the children and parents, and what kind of energy the school gives off. Do the children seem happy and engaged? Are questions welcomed and is parent involvement encouraged? Paying a visit to the school, asking questions of students, staff, and the principal are all good ways to get a feel for the school.
Choosing the environment in which your child will spend his or her formative years is a big decision and one not to be taken lightly. Consider all the options available to you and the many benefits that a private school can offer your child.