Great education begins at a young age, and many times your search begins with looking for a “daycare preschool near me”. Have you thought about private school for your child’s education, starting with Pre-k? When children are very young, the thought of a private preschool or private elementary school may not have crossed your mind.
Once they are ready for kindergarten, kids are usually enrolled in the nearest public school district by default. Unfortunately, many parents do not take advantage of the opportunities provided by private elementary schools. Did you know that 25 percent of the country’s schools are private schools? Yet, private schools only enroll only about 10 percent of all PK-12 students are enrolled in private schools. If you’re grappling with the idea of a private school for preschool and elementary school-aged children, then take a look at some of these reasons to choose a private school instead of a public one.
What are the Advantages of Private Schools over Public Schools?
For most children, pre-k and kindergarten are the foundation of their education. It is a time for both play and learning and is a big step for children on their school journey. It is also a big decision for parents. If you are discussing your public or private school options, remember that each public school system and every private or independent school are different.
Public schools are doing a great job at educating your child, but at private schools, and particularly private preschools and private elementary schools, students will be challenged more academically. With a more meticulous approach to learning, private schools are competitive but may also result in the development and growth of creative, confident, and well-rounded young students.
Teaching and special attention
Teachers at public schools must hold valid state licenses and meet specific criteria to serve students with special learning considerations. Private school teachers are not required to meet the same conditions. This means that if you know your child needs special guidance or attention, or has a specific, diagnosed learning concern, ask whether a private school is equipped to your your child’s needs.
On the other hand, private schools may be better equipped to challenge students with advanced capabilities. Thanks largely to the smaller class sizes and lower student/teacher ratios, private schools are able to avoid “teaching to the middle,” providing additional resources and challenges for academically strong students.
The intangibles: values and character
Many private schools focus on specific values, including honesty, friendship, respect, and integrity. Together, these values inform what some schools refer to as “character education.” Private schools often create units and lessons created to show and exemplify these values. The schools focus not just on a child’s intellectual development and academic learning, but on their moral, civic, and social development.
Resources and Specials
When it comes to classroom resources and special areas of study (like art, music, foreign language), private schools typically have the advantage. Funded by tuition and endowments, private schools are not reliant on taxpayers for critical funds. Many incorporate a foreign language, such as Spanish, into the curriculum as early as Pre-Kindergarten–something that many public schools don’t include until later grades.
Emphasis in the Arts
A private school that highlights the importance of the arts offers several benefits to your child. A private school curriculum rich in arts and humanities fosters creativity, self-confidence, communication, and critical thinking skills that further improve the learning experience.
Unlike public school extracurricular activities, private school extracurricular activities including performing arts and dance, music, and theater are a mandatory part of a comprehensive academic program, giving students a chance to explore their creative strengths and discover their otherwise untapped talents and potential in these areas.
Small Class Sizes
Private elementary schools are able to offer smaller class sizes than public, which means greater specialized attention for your child’s individual and unique academic needs. It means that students who attend private schools have more opportunities to form relationships with their teachers, which can lead to greater academic success.
Depending on your city or town, a public school can be advantageous if you want your child to to be familiar with other children from a range of racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Some public schools are located in very uniform towns or neighborhoods and may offer little to no diversity. Many private schools make a concerted effort to enroll students from different backgrounds, including different socioeconomic levels (via financial aid packages). If this is important to you, visit the school and check out the population, and ask admissions staff about it.
Additionally, some private or independent schools are specifically for all-boys or all-girls. This approach has some fundamental advantages. There are differences in the way boys and girls learn and behave, which can start to be seen as early as kindergarten.
Teachers are able to customize their methods and techniques to the learning preferences of given gender, allowing boys (or girls) to explore, learn, and develop in the manner most fitting and natural to them.
For parents juggling careers and other children, scheduling is crucial. Each public and private school will have different options when it comes to a pre-k or kindergarten schedule, including full- or half-day options, days of week, and before- or after-school care.
It’s a given: tuition is one of the key differences between public and private schools and a significant component for many families. Public school is free; private school is not. A year’s tuition at most private schools will likely run in the thousands of dollars, even for kindergarten, although some schools offer financial aid. Of course, the cost and value of a private education includes more than just the price tag.
So, where does this leave you as a parent? Every family must weigh the decision carefully and consider the best choice for them and their child. It is always a good idea to visit the schools you’re considering and talk to teachers and administrators. Chat with other parents and get their perspectives and insight. Know your child and know what you want for your child. And of course, always trust your instincts.