by Shannon Philpott
As parents, our concerns for our child’s development never end. From emotional and physical growth to intellectual and spiritual development, we continually research best practices, strategies, and methods to ensure that our children grow up in a healthy, nurturing environment.
And then we ship them off to school.
This academic journey is one of the most influential components of a child’s development. All parents want something unique and specialized for their child, which is why private schools have continued to thrive throughout the U.S.
According to recent statistics gathered by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), a member organization for independent schools that offers resources for both administrators and parents, students attending private schools receive more one-on-one attention, with a median class size of 16.
“Statistically, private schools tend to do a good job educating academically while preparing students to be strong citizens,” said Myra McGovern, NAIS public information officer.
When it comes to private schooling, there are many benefits for the entire family. According to McGovern, one of the most obvious benefits is that families have the opportunity to choose a school that best fits their parenting style and their child.
Whether your child excels at art, sports, language arts, or math, each private school offers something different. “Different children will thrive in different environments,” McGovern said. “Private schools tend to be smaller and teachers can get to know what motivates students more, all while developing individualized programs that cater to strengths and address challenges a child may face.”
Ronald E. Koetzsch, Ph.D., author of The Parents’ Guide to Alternatives in Education, suggested to Parent USA City that when deciding upon a private school, parents should take a step-by-step approach considering the needs of each child.
● Find out about the whole range of alternatives in education. From charter, independent, and Montessori schools to religious, Foxfire, and Progressive Schools, the options for private education are many.
● Get more information. Research the educational approaches and types of schools that appeal to you.
● Construct a portrait of the ideal school for your child. Take into consideration the child’s personality and learning style, as well as the ideal curriculum, pedagogy, and class size.
● Visit as many schools as possible and keep an open mind. “Each school is a type of school, but it is also an individual and unique institution,” says Koetzsch. “There is tremendous variety even among schools that share a common educational philosophy and practice.”
● Interview teachers and other parents. Don’t be concerned that you sound as if you are interviewing the teacher for a job or violating privacy. According to Koetzsch, the answers “will give you a sense of the philosophy—the view of the world and human nature and education—behind the school and how that philosophy manifests in the life of the school.”
● Narrow down your choices. Make a list of four or five schools that appeal strongly and, in terms of cost and commuting distance, are viable alternatives for your family.
In the end, Koetzsch recommends that parents “take your own intellectual preferences, your visceral feelings and intuition, and your child’s preferences and make a decision.”
Shannon Philpott is a writer/reporter with 10-plus years of experience, and a college journalism instructor. She maintains a blog about writing, reflecting, and teaching at shannonphilpott.com.