8 Steps to Choosing the Perfect Private School
Most parents wonder what type of school will help their child to succeed in all areas of life. There are ways for parents to find the perfect school for their children.
1. What are your priorities in your child’s education?
Each school has a different learning structure model. Learning structure models determine what techniques they will use to incorporate problem-solving skills.
There are a few different types of learning styles offered at different schools. Some schools may lean towards real-life preparation with the work revolving around real-life scenarios the students may face. Another school heavily emphasizes college preparation and incorporates lots of college-level classes and prepares their students for college academics and entrance exams.
For example, Trekker School, located in St. George, Utah, focuses on teaching students to work with their hands and cooperate as a team to solve real-world problems, which teaches teamwork and problem solving. What do you want your child’s education to give them? Real-life thinking, a jump start on higher education, or something else?
2. What extracurricular activities do you want for your child?
Like priorities, different private schools will have different options for extracurricular activities. Extracurricular activities aren’t required, but they can help a child to be more involved in the school. These kinds of programs held after school can boost a child’s self-esteem, teamwork, and find what they enjoy.
Does your child love the theater? Or maybe they’ve always wanted to be on the basketball team. Perhaps you want them to learn how to play the cello! Make a list of extracurricular activities you and your child want, ranking them from things you need in a school, to things you would want to do, to things that could be fun if given as an option.
Check out which schools have these extracurricular activities. Don’t turn down your dream school over an after-school activity though! Try to think outside the box. Maybe there isn’t a school choir, but a musical your child could try out for instead. Learning something new outside of school hours can be a really fun learning experience!
3. What is your budget?
Public schools aren’t always cheap, but that’s okay! You can shop around and see what fits your budget. You don’t have to go into debt to provide a great education for your child!
If education is really important to you and your child, but money is a bit too tight, you can look for a school offering scholarships for students. Scholarships can provide great opportunities, and teach your children responsibility for their education. See what school’s price can fit your lifestyle!
4. Research schools in your area
You’ll need to actually check out some schools, of course! Look up a few schools in your area and put together which ones fit your priorities list, extracurricular activities, and budget.
You probably won’t find a golden school that perfectly fits everything you want, so you’ll have to figure out what things are negotiable, and what you cannot live without. Maybe a school with less college prep but more piano lessons for your musically gifted child is what’s best for you and your child.
Try to narrow down your list to about half a dozen schools. You don’t have to make a decision just yet, so have a couple of backups.
5. Check on school reviews and academic achievement
Now that you have some schools in mind, check up on the school’s ratings. Read some reviews of the school, and if you can, chat with another parent who’s enrolled in the school. or, even better, talk with a student enrolled in the school themselves.
Don’t judge a school based on just one rating! Checking academic success, testing results, and reviews may eliminate a school from your list, or change the ranking you made. You definitely don’t want to go into a private school blind!
6. Rank schools based on your priorities, budget, etc.
Now that you have all the information you need, rank those schools you put on your list. How you rank your schools is a personal decision, but starting with priorities, after-school activities, and budget is a good place to start. It can be hard to rank schools since you’re judging them based on several aspects, not just one.
You might find that schools with better academics get higher ratings than schools with successful sports teams. However, if higher test scores if the only thing setting a school apart, it might not be a good fit for you. You don’t need to eliminate anything yet, just get a good grasp on what schools you’re really interested in.
7. Visit schools in person to check out the grounds, buildings, and teachers
You can’t get a real idea of a school on a computer screen! Visit all the schools on your list in person. See if they have a parent night or other activity for parents interested in enrollment.
Check out the grounds, see how many teachers work there and what kind of space your child will have. For younger children, don’t forget to see that playground! Play can be just as important as school at this age.
If you can talk to a teacher or two, do! They can give you a great opinion on what kind of school your child is going to. If you can bring your child, even better!
It can make going to a new school a lot easier to see where they’re going and who they’re going with beforehand. Hopefully, this will eliminate all schools but one on your list, and give you and your child more peace of mind about going to school!
8. Discuss the school with your child
This might be the most important part. Especially in older children, try to make sure your little one is involved as much as they can be. Show them pictures of the schools you’re thinking of and talk to them about what they want to do at school. They might surprise you, and want to be involved in academics or extracurricular you didn’t know about.
Children learn best when they feel like they’re in control, and their voice matters. Even if you’re picking the school, talk to them about their future and what they want from school.
Asking their opinion, even for small things, can make them feel a lot more responsible and mature. After all, it’s their school and their future!