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When Looking for the Right Private School, First Ask the Right Questions.
Selecting the best private school for your child is no easy task, but you can make a better decision if you ask the right questions at the onset. Before making this important decision, you’ll want to do some research of the different schools available, then talk with the administrators, teachers, and staff of each school, narrow down your selection and ultimately make a visit.
Here’s a helpful list of some significant questions to help you make a confident decision about selecting a private school for your child.
1. What is the school’s philosophy?
A school’s philosophy or vision is usually readily identifiable. It is implemented into teaching, learning, curriculum, and student life. Ask how the philosophy is put into practice. Often a school’s philosophy is seen in the mission statement. Look for that when you are researching.
2. Is there a type of student you want for your school?
Most schools want as much diversity in their school as possible, but some schools have a specific academic focus, such as math, science, or the arts. Other than academics, they may want kids with a penchant for sports or well-rounded students active in student life.
3. How would you describe your curriculum?
Your child should have the right academic profile and learning style that matches with that of the private school. Ask what the curricular guidelines are. Find out if the school is student-centric or more teacher centered. Knowing these things will help you determine the support your child needs for his/her learning style.
4. What is the average size of a classroom and what is the student-to-teacher ratio?
One of the advantages of private school is the personalized attention, differentiated instruction, and student engagement. A lower student-to-teacher ratio can affect the quality of education. Ask if students participate in leading classroom learning sessions. Also, find out how instruction for special learning needs is tailored.
5. How much is yearly tuition and exactly what does it include?
It’s best to get this up front and make sure you know what you’re getting. Sometimes you may have to pay extra for school uniforms, textbooks, food, extracurricular activities, and field trips. This is also a good opportunity to ask if the school has a Financial Aid offering or payment plan.
6. What extracurricular activities are available to students?
Extracurricular activities play an important part in students’ overall well-being at school. These may include sports teams, art and science programs, and community service opportunities. Ask how often these activities take place and if there is additional cost to participate.
7. What are the qualifications of your teachers and are they offered professional development?
Highly qualified teachers in a private school are considered the norm, however, it’s best to find out what the credentials are of the teaching staff and whether they have professional development opportunities available to them through the school. This speaks to the commitment the school has in its teaching staff.
8. Does your school integrate technology into the classroom and curriculum, and if so, how?
Technology resources are a given in today’s modern classroom. Classrooms equipped with laptop computers, interactive whiteboards, e-readers, iPads, and even 2- and 3-D printers are not uncommon. Courses in tech-based subjects, such as computer science, programming, robotics, and graphic design are offered at some schools.
9. How do you measure individual achievement and advancement?
All schools measure student progress in some way or another. Tracking how students are doing is a critical measurement in education at every level. Ask about the grading systems, tests, and how they support different learning levels.
10. What is student life like?
Student life is an important part of education. Happy, productive, and engaged students will usually achieve more at school. Lasting friendships and peer relationships are often made and can last a lifetime. Ask how the school promotes a cohesive, collaborative community at school. Find out if there are regularly-occurring events to support these efforts.
11. Are parents invited to get involved in school life and if so, how?
Parents are an integral part of their children’s education. This commitment doesn’t end once you find the right school. Getting involved in children’s day-to-day school life by volunteering in class or serving on committees for special events can be rewarding for parents and students. Look for a school that offers parents opportunities to be involved and keep an open line of communication with the school.
12. How is your school operated and governed?
Ask if the school is a for-profit, not-for-profit, or non-profit school. Each is different. Find out who you go to ask questions about your child. Find out about how the leadership hierarchy is structured and who is responsible for making various decisions. Ask if the school is accredited to better understand standards and objectives.
Finding the right private school for your child is a significant milestone and making the right choices in your selection process can have a lasting impact. Starting out with insightful questions will help you get the answers you need to make this important decision.