Private schools can provide an excellent education and overall experience where students thrive. Considering private school can be a big decision, especially when there are many great choices, like in the Richmond area.
There are many aspects of a school to consider before selecting the best fit for your child. Not all students will thrive in all situations so taking the time to do your homework is critical.
Academic Expectations & Curriculum
Some private schools are renowned for their academic excellence and ability to challenge students. Other private schools are on par with the local public schools in terms of academic rigor. In order to find the right match for your child, have a firm understanding of your reason for considering private education, the type of learner your student is and the resources they need to succeed.
If your student is underwhelmed in his or her current academic setting, a move to private school with a more challenging curriculum may be a better opportunity for your child to further their education.
If your student doesn’t seem to respond to the overall classroom structure or pace in their current school, they may succeed in an environment that offers a different teaching style. Or one that provides students to work at their own pace, which allows students to spend more time when mastering difficult concepts. Montessori students for example are provided the ability to learn at their own pace while follow their own academic passions. Our classrooms include students who range in age, which provides opportunities for broader social development and meaningful friendships. The range of ages and abilities also helps to build a tolerance and appreciation of individual differences and fosters collaboration and cooperation as the students form their own cohesive community.
Regardless of the type of student you have, or which school you are considering, thoroughly research the academic standards, curriculum and what a day in the classroom looks like.
The classroom environment can make or break your child’s educational experience. While traditional public schools often have 20 or more students per classroom, private schools can widely differ. Some may hit capacity with high demand with a class size on par with public schools, while others maintain consistent classroom sizes with 10-12 students.
Some students do well in larger classrooms while others perform better in smaller settings, and there are pros and cons to both small and large classes. Talk to your child to ask what aspects of the classroom make them feel comfortable and where they feel they do their best work.
At Richmond Montessori, we always suggest visiting the school and observing a class in session. Note how students and teachers interact with each other. You may find a classroom you thought would be too large, or too small, is the perfect fit.
Let’s get this one out of the way – private education can be expensive. According to Private School Review, the national average cost of private school education is approximately $10,000 per year. This average is composed of both elementary and high school tuition, which can vary dramatically.
For parents who are new to researching private education sometimes the costs can seem like an immediate barrier. However, many private schools also offer scholarships, other forms of financial aid or payment plans. Before you deem the school too expensive, especially if the school seems like an excellent fit, research the financial options.
It’s also important to note that private schools range in price and a high tuition does not necessarily mean the education is better. There are many reasons one school may be more expensive than another, and selecting a less expensive option does not mean you are providing your child with less of an education. The less expensive option may provide more of what your child needs to succeed. Focus on the fit of the school rather than getting hung up on the price of the school.
Electives & Extracurricular Activities
Apart for primary education, electives, extracurricular activities and sports should be considered. Private schools offer varying degrees of these programs, some offering more than others.
If your child is heavily involved in activities outside of school, offerings at the school may not be a focus of your search. However, it’s still very important to understand your child’s interests and talents and find a school where these can be nurtured. Whether it is arts or sports finding a school environment that includes offerings your child finds exciting will make the overall experience more positive.
An often overlooked aspect of private school is the commute. Because private schools draw students from a wide area, there is often not school provided transportation.
Consider the driving time and ask the school about carpool opportunities before deciding the logistics are too difficult.
Where Are They Now?
Ask the school about their success rates. How do their graduates perform in higher education? What schools did they go on to attend?
These types of questions can give you a glimpse of the student population as well as the expectations held by the teachers. This will further paint the picture of the school and help you determine if it meets the needs of your student.
Feel Confident in your Choice
There are many aspects to consider when selecting the right fit for your child, and you may feel a bit overwhelmed. However putting so much thought and research into your child’s education shows that you are invested in their future, so you’re already on the right track.
Putting in the work and research will leave you feeling confident in your choice and knowing your child is receiving the best opportunity for success.