At the beginning of this series, we talked about the first step in trying to decide between public, private, and home schooling. Here’s Part 1, where we elaborated on the information that you need to gather when considering your local public school, in case you missed it. Today, we’ll walk through the information that you need to gather about private schools.
There are two primary questions we recommend asking when evaluating a private school. Ask yourself the following:
1. What kind of family is this school targeting? There are several factors that I would draw into an overall answer to this question, including:
· Tuition amount
· Activities and sports offered
· Overall “prestige” in the community
This will give you an idea if your family is in the target demographic of a particular school. If the tuition amount seems extremely high to you, understand the implications of being well-below-average if you can just barely scrape together the tuition with huge sacrifices. If you wouldn’t know a lacrosse stick from a fly swatter, you may find yourself at odds with a school community that focuses on what is perceived as elite sports.
Are you hearing my point? Particularly with private schools, you’re not just looking for a great kindergarten room for your darling. YOU will be expected to participate in school activities and community, and if you don’t fit in and find your own tribe within the school, it may be difficult for your family AND signal that this could be difficult for your child.
2. What type of curriculum is used? This can be a difficult answer to evaluate if you have no background in education. And the importance of this answer grows as tuition decreases. You may find that a nearby private school charges a fairly low tuition rate. They may do so by using a self-paced (often faith-based) curriculum with teachers who have no teaching certification or credentials. (By the way, I wouldn’t get hung up on whether they possess an official state certificate. It’s getting more difficult for those not currently teaching in public schools to have state certification. But a teaching degree would satisfy me.)
How important is it to you that the curriculum is or is not faith-based? Many private schools were started by churches with the initial goal of offering a complete faith-based education to its students. After many years, some of these private schools have transitioned to a secular (not religious) curriculum with only a small component of religious presence. Others use a high-quality religious curriculum that aligns with what educators would expect a kindergartener to learn.
Next in this series, we’ll look at guidelines for the final option you may be considering: homeschooling. Until then, have a great week!