Many would argue that one of the most important gifts we can give our children is that of a good education. Some parents opt for a private school education, believing that it affords their children a better start in life, by way of a more rigorous academic curriculum. Others may like the values the private schools espouse or want their children to grow up learning with children who have similar backgrounds and interests. There’s a variety of reasons to enroll your chid in a private elementary, middle, or private high school, but first and foremost, you want your child to get the best start in life. Private middle schools and private high schools do have the advantage of private funding and high levels of parent interaction in what the school teaches or sponsors, so if you’re interested in being a very hands-on parent, looking at private middle schools or high schools for your child is a good option.
Who’s Enrolled in Private Schools?
Private kindergartens tend to have the highest level of enrollment, according to statistics from the 2011-2012 school year. Almost 450,000 kindergarteners were privately enrolled. There are over 30,000 private schools in the United States, covering pre-K through the twelfth grade, that serve over five million students. Private schools make up a quarter of the nation’s schools and about 10% of all pre-K to 12th grade students are enrolled in these institutions.
There are both religious private schools and secular private schools. Many religious private schools don’t require that their students practice the faith espoused by the institution, but will expose the kids to that faith during their time at the school. Despite the image of all girls’ or all boys’ private schools in pop culture, 96% of private schools are actually coed, with the remaining four percent split between all boys’ or all girls’ schools.
What Are Some of the Advantages of Attending a Private School?
Smaller Class Sizes
During the 2010-2011 school year, the average school size was just shy of 150 students. Indeed, almost 90% of private schools had under 300 students and private high schools boast class sizes that have a student-to-teacher ratio of 12:1.
More Personalized Attention
The small class size mentioned above means that students are more likely to receive more personalized attention from their teachers. It also tends to mean that the range of skill level across the classroom is smaller, so teachers can pursue a more competitive and rigorous curriculum, than in a larger classroom, where students may be entering the subject level at all different skill levels. There’s also an opportunity here for students to foster meaningful mentoring relationships with their teachers, 60-80% of whom who have advanced degrees of some kind.
Prestigious Alumni Connections
Given their size, private schools tend to be fairly close-knit, so graduating classes are likely to stay in touch and alumni connections even for private elementary or private middle schools are likely to be quite good. As high school seniors, internship opportunities, collegial opportunities, and more may avail themselves to graduates of these schools.
If the private school is prestigious enough, colleges will certainly sit up and take notice of the school’s name on college applications, knowing that they tend to, on average, churn out exceptional students. The school’s reputation may carry even farther into adulthood.
What Should I Know About Private Schools Before Enrolling My Child?
You should be attuned to the mission statement of the school itself. If it’s a private religious school, you need to be okay with your child learning that faith during his or her time at the school. If you’re looking for a school that prioritizes the arts and humanities, you should also know that. Ultimately, you want a school that will encourage your child to become a well-rounded, creative, and confident individual. Private middle schools, in particular, as children hit puberty, should be encouraged to practice respect, empathy, good communication, and healthy minds, bodies, and spirits.
If your child is old enough, you should discuss with him or her which school might be the best fit — tour a few different private schools and see what feels like the best fit.