According to the Council for American Private Education (CAPE), private schools serve 5.7 million children in preschool through grade 12 across the United States. If your child is ready to join the millions of students who attend these schools, take a look at what you need to ask before you choose a private program.
Does the School Offer a Pre-Enrollment Tour?
There's only so much information a brochure can provide. While it's helpful to read about the school and talk to the staff, an in-person tour can give your family a better picture of the full educational environment.
Not only can you see the school's facilities during the visit, but you can also talk (in person and not on the phone or via email) to the educators, principal, or other school staff members. This provides you with one-on-one time to explore the educational options and get to know the people who will teach your child for the next several years.
What Is the Average Class Size for Your Child's Grade-Level?
Even though private schools tend to have smaller class sizes in comparison to public educational institutions, you should verify how many children are in the average classroom. The lower the student to teacher ratio, the more individualized attention your child will get. This can help your child to feel more comfortable in the classroom and improve in academic areas.
What Does the Curriculum Include?
More specifically, what types of classes are available to your child? Along with traditional academics, such as English/reading/language, math, science, and social studies, ask about foreign languages, the visual arts, the performing arts (drama, dance, and music), physical education, and other extracurricular areas.
What Types of Technology Does the School Use?
Technology is part of your child's life. While your school of choice shouldn't focus on the entertainment aspects of electronics or allow unrestricted digital use, they should provide students with the opportunity to learn about technology. This could include coding classes, the use of tablets during class-time, digital design activities, or other tech-based lessons.
Along with the curricular aspects of technology-based learning, ask the school's staff what types of devices your child will use. Does your child need their own laptop, smartphone, or tablet? If the school requires a specific type of device for assignments or activities, ask who provides it. Some schools give students devices for class use, while others expect the parents to pay for educational electronics.
While these questions are key to the decision-making process, you may need more answers. Make a list of your family's top questions about private school and ask the principal, director, or school staff before you make a choice.