It is the start of a new year and with this start many parents are thinking about the next school year. Is it time to have your child start private school or public school? Both options have many benefits and drawbacks. As you are looking at both private and public schools here are some things to ask the schools during your onsite visits.
First thing is do not assume that your public school is the only option! There are lots of options for education of your children these days. Do go to the public school and treat it as you would a private school. Ask the same questions of them as you would if you were paying them above your taxes. Your children deserve the best education that you can provide. In many areas you can request transfers for a variety of reasons-from special needs to where your child will go after school. Find the right fit for them and you!
Second – Do your homework! When you are narrowing down the list of schools to visit, go to their websites and check things out. Greatschools.org rates schools both public and private. See their test scores, number of students, and their GreatSchools rating.
Other information that you might want to know:
- Admissions process
- Tuition/Financial Aid
- Extra activities beyond the classroom – from fieldtrips to sports & clubs
- For younger children before & after care
- For older children preparation for advanced classes in high school
- Parental involvement – is it encouraged, demanded, or dismissed?
- Uniforms or personal choice within guidelines
Third – do an onsite visit to all the schools that you are thinking about. Don’t overwhelm yourself, pick no more than 3 or 4 schools to visit. Thinking that you have to visit EVERY school in your area will only make the waters muddy and overwhelm you. Three schools is about perfect to visit.
Finally when you have done homework and site visits – write down your general impression of the school. Do you think that your child will excel there? Will you as a parent be welcomed in the classroom? Does this school support your vision of what education should be and what your children need to learn?
Remember that there is not a perfect school, but there is a school that mostly fits what you as a family need for your children. Public does not always mean bad and private does not always mean good. Each school has their own personality and philosophy, which is why you should go and visit them. Asking questions will give you a better picture of the school.