7 Must-Ask Questions When Choosing Private Schooling


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There are almost 35,000 private schools and associations dotted across the United States. In some of America’s biggest cities, the private education institutes number into the thousands. Include Canada, and you have an enormous choice.

As a parent considering private education for your child or children, you can take your pick from a vast array of secular and religious options. It can be overwhelming working out which school will benefit your son or daughter the most.

Are you new to the world of private schooling? Below, we outline the key queries you need to put forward.

1. How Selective Is This Private School?

In the USA, the law requires public schools to open their doors to all the children in their area. By contrast, a private school can be selective about the students they enroll. Parents complete an application process for their child; not every family that applies will be accepted.

What the schools consider in their application criteria varies. Still, in almost all cases, a board will assess a child’s scholarship and education record, extracurricular achievements, and, for religious schools, their belief statement. Parents should also be aware that private schools are not required to support children with learning disabilities.

2. What Is the School’s Teaching Philosophy?

Every American school, whether public or private, will adhere to an education vision or philosophy. When considering which private school is best for your child, be sure to ask for this statement.

It’s usually prominently located on a school’s website and might go by the name “Mission Statement,” “Vision,” or “Approach,” among other titles. For example, you can look at this school’s strategy here: https://peartree.school/.

When interviewing for a spot at a private school, ask the admissions officer to give you their views on the mission statement in person. This will give you an idea of how closely the school and its staff align themselves with it.

3. What Are the Private Schooling Tuition Fees?

The average cost of sending a child to a private school in North America is a little over $12,000 a year. Of course, tuition can be much higher than that, depending on the city or state you’re in. Given that formal education lasts over a decade, parents need to take a hard look at their long-term budget before settling on a school.

Consider the following:

  • How many children you have
  • The maximum you want to spend on each child
  • The other quality (cheaper) schools nearby
  • The scholarships or financing options available

Remember that it’s not only tuition costs you need to factor into your calculations. You’ll also need to pay for textbooks, uniforms, field trips, lunches, after-school activities, art supplies, and much more.

4. What Curriculum Does the School Use?

All children learn differently, and most private schools teach differently. For any schools you’re interested in, take the time to learn about their curriculum.

What are their curricular standards? Are they student-centered or teacher-centered? If they use an alternative learning method, for example, Montessori or Waldorf, how well does their approach integrate with your state’s education requirements?

Take note of the child-teacher ratios, too. Smaller class sizes mean your child will get personalized attention, more peer engagement, and an overall more profound learning experience.

Ask to observe one or two classes in action in your child’s grade level. This will give you a clear idea of whether the teaching methods are suitable for their learning needs.

5. Are the Extracurricular Activities Well Organized?

One of the perks of attending a private high school is the wide range of well-funded extracurricular activities.

There are often so many options on offer that even the most obscure passions can be catered for–from the student newspaper and debate team to mountain biking or equestrian.

Of course, some schools emphasize certain activities over others, so try to find this when making your inquiries. If your child is a talented basketball player, you want to choose a school with a successful basketball team. And don’t forget to ask about the minimum requirements for participation.

At the same time, request to see the school’s sports, arts, science, and other facilities. Are they well used? Are they fitted with the latest equipment and technology?

6. What Personality Types Does the School Prefer?

Whether it’s right or not, private elementary schools and other types of private schools have carefully crafted reputations to uphold. That’s likely why you want to send your child to one in the first place. Because of this, they often target specific types of students.

At a minimum, private schools are looking for students that are:

  • Academically excellent
  • Ambitious
  • Actively involved in school
  • Independent
  • Healthy

Some private schools emphasize students that excel in certain areas. The school may have a high-level math class, or they might hold national junior soccer records. If your child excels in a particular area, look for a school that specializes in their talent.

7. In What Ways Does the School Include Parents?

Research shows that students achieve more on all fronts when their parents are involved in their education. If you plan to live close to the private school your child will attend, you might be wondering how private schools near me might include parents. 

Don’t be afraid to quiz potential schools on the roles parents can play in their child’s education. You might be able to serve on a parent-teacher board, volunteer to teach an extracurricular class, help out on field trips, coach a sports team, or join an event organizing committee.

No matter what parental involvement options are available, find out how open communication channels are between the school and parents. Chat with the parents of children already at the school to hear their experiences.

Making the Right Choice

It can take a long time to find the proper private schooling for your child. Asking questions like the ones above of every school you interview with will give you the confidence to narrow down your search. Now you can go back to Googling “private elementary schools near me” with a clear picture of what to look for.

If you found this article helpful and are looking for more parenting advice, be sure to browse the other articles on our blog.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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