Your child will carry their education with them for the rest of their life. As a caring parent, you may have researched the local public schools and decided they can’t provide the type of education your child needs.
But now you have an even more complicated decision to make: which private school should you choose?
Your family will need to research schools carefully before making a final decision. There are many factors to consider, from curriculum to affordability.
Prioritize Strong Academics
As a prospective private school parent, academics are likely at or near the top of your priority list. Parents often choose to send their children to private schools because the local public schools may not provide the quality of education they seek.
Many private schools focus on preparing their students for college or advanced high school coursework. However, you can’t assume this is the case with every private school. If college preparation is a priority, you will probably be able to find statistics on the school’s website that shows students’ average test scores or schools that alumni have gone on to attend.
Some private schools use a different instructional model than the standard public school. Many parents seek out schools that use the Montessori method, a Waldorf curriculum, or another progressive approach to education.
Many private schools focus more on certain academic subjects than others. For example, Northshore Christian Academy emphasizes STEM learning, although it also has excellent literacy and fine arts programs. Hillside Student Community School emphasizes the arts, although students also do well in other areas.
Check the Logistics
Before you get too attached to a school, you should consider whether it’s a practical choice for your family. Here are a few things to look into:
- How will your child get to school? Your child’s school likely needs to be within a certain distance of your home or workplace, unless the school provides transportation or you are willing to send your child to a boarding school.
- Will you need before- or after-school childcare? Some private schools provide this, but others don’t, and the timing may not meet your needs.
- Can you afford tuition? Private school is a major expense for most families. You will need to set a budget, preferably before you start looking at schools. Scholarships may be available, but they may come with strings, like parental volunteer hours.
- Does the school offer the services your child needs? Make sure the school you are considering has any special resources your child might need, such as special education programs or on-site nurses who can administer medicine.
- Can all of your children attend the school? If you have more than one child, you may want to send all your children to the same school. Coordinating transportation and activities at multiple schools could be exhausting. Schools that teach more grade levels and prioritize sibling admissions could make life easier for your family.
- Will you be expected to stay heavily involved at the school as a parent? Some private schools require or promote more parental involvement in school activities and decisions. If you are already too busy with work, caring for your family, and other responsibilities, you may want to avoid these schools. On the other hand, some parents may relish the opportunity to be closely involved in their child’s school.
Make Sure the School Supports Your Child’s Learning Needs
Your child’s school should provide all the opportunities they need to succeed. Children who have special learning needs or other challenges may need specialized teachers, tools, or learning options that are not available at every school.
If your child is academically gifted or far ahead of their peers, you may wish to send them to a school that caters to students like them. Some private schools offer extra-accelerated math programs or similar programs for students who seek more intellectual challenge.
Like public schools, private schools only have so many resources. Smaller schools in particular may not have the teaching capacity for students with special physical, linguistic, emotional, or learning needs. Depending on your child’s learning requirements, you may need to seek a specialized school or a school that serves more students.
Look for Helpful Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities may not be a priority to you as a parent, but they will have a large impact on your child’s life. After-school clubs and programs will allow your child to bond with other students, build teamwork skills, and explore their interests.
Some private schools have limited opportunities to participate in sports, scouts, and music programs. Others have a wide range of activities to choose from, including STEM-related programs like robotics and engineering clubs.
After narrowing down your choices to a couple of schools that meet your needs, talk to your child about each school and tell them about the activities they could participate in. Ask your child what they are interested in. If you are undecided between schools or certain activities are important to your child, extracurricular opportunities could be a decisionmaker.
Consider Class Size
In addition to all the factors above, you may want to consider school and class size. Many children learn better in small classes where the teacher has more time for each student. In small group settings, teachers are more likely to have the time to assess and resolve each student’s challenges.
Your child may also benefit from the opportunity to become part of a close-knit group of peers at a small school. When there are only a few students in each grade, your child will share classes with most of the same students each year and participate in many of the same activities as their peers.
However, small schools are not better for every student. Group dynamics can become much more important in schools with small class sizes, and it may be harder to escape social difficulties if your child does not mesh with the existing dynamics. Some students may do better at a larger school where they can more easily find friends who appreciate them and share their interests.
Choose a School That Aligns With Your Family’s Goals
There’s a reason you started looking at private schools for your child. Beyond the quality of education in core school subjects, you may be looking for a school that aligns with your family’s religious beliefs, a military school, or a school where boys and girls are kept separate.
If you have a particular reason beyond academics or safety for seeking a private school education, make sure that the school you choose fits with those considerations.
Summary: How to Choose a Private School For Your Child
- Look for strong academic results.
- Think about which subjects you want the school to emphasize.
- Make sure the logistics work.
- Figure out your budget.
- Ask about parental involvement expectations.
- Check that the school supports your child’s unique learning needs.
- Consider extracurricular activity opportunities.
- Consider class sizes.
- Don’t forget your family’s educational goals and philosophy.
Christian Private School in Everett
Northshore Christian Academy has a national reputation as an outstanding private school. Our students have been performing at an average of 1-2 years above their grade level in English and math for the past 20 years. Our school recently received the U.S. Department of Education’s prestigious National Blue Ribbon School Award for exceptional performance in core academic areas.
In addition to receiving a strong, hands-on education in STEM and literacy, all our students participate in a variety of fine arts activities including musical plays, chapel presentations, performance concerts, and after school art lessons. All of our academic opportunities happen within a faith-focused community that values diversity.
It makes sense that you would want to choose a private school that has extracurricular activities that your child is interested in so that they can have something to do outside of school. My husband and I are thinking about putting our daughter in a private school because we think she would get a better education through one. She has always been interested in sports, so we’ll have to make sure the schools we are considering have teams she can participate in.