Many parents feel that their children will thrive better in what they believe is a smaller, safer environment with more room for personal attention. While public schools must follow a curriculum heavily influenced by state standards, private schools have more freedom to customize lessons to students’ individual ways of learning.
Private schools can point to low student-teacher ratios, freedom from state standards and testing, and lots of extras like music, foreign languages, travel opportunities and art that can be underfunded in public schools. Private schools are often well-equipped with current educational technology to facilitate in class and virtual instruction. Rest assured, promise school experts, there is a school out there to suit every child.
There are two primary categories of private schools—independent schools and parochial schools.
Independent schools are defined as nonprofit private schools with their own governing board of trustees. While most people commonly refer to independent schools as private, lumping them in with parochial and for-profit schools, they are distinct because they are nonprofit and self-governing.
Parochial schools, where tuition is typically one-third that of independent schools, offer traditional instruction and have solid reputations. Families who are “in-parish,” that is, who live within the schools’ official parish boundaries or volunteer and participate regularly in the parish, get first priority. Otherwise, the application procedures are similar to independent schools.
When considering private school education, think about these benefits:
High academic standards – Private schools nurture intellectual curiosity, stimulate personal growth, and encourage critical thinking. A larger percentage of students at private schools are enrolled in advanced courses than in public.
Small classes and individual attention – Private schools have low student-teacher ratios that encourage close connections with students. The median ratio in schools that are members of the National Association of Independent Schools in 2019/20 was 8.5 students to 1 teacher.
Excellent teachers – Educators usually teach in their areas of expertise and are passionate about what they do. With more autonomy within the classroom, teachers are able to develop a full understanding of how each student learns and what motivates and inspires each child.
Greater likelihood of a student completing a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree – Independent schools nurture not just students’ intellectual ability and curiosity but also their personal and social growth and civic conscience. Opportunities extend well beyond the classroom to athletic competitions, artistic pursuits, and school leadership experiences.
Education for the whole child – Private schools nurture not just students’ intellectual curiosity but also their personal, social growth and civic purpose. Opportunities extend well beyond the classroom to athletic competitions, artistic pursuits and school leadership offerings.
Inclusiveness – Schools maintain diverse and vibrant student communities and welcome and respect each family. In 2019/20, students of color were 33 percent of total independent school enrollment nationally.
A community of parents who actively participate in their children’s education. Private schools promote regular communication among students, parents, and teachers to ensure everyone is working toward the same goals for the student.
The opportunity to choose a school with a mission. You can select a school whose philosophy, values, and teaching approach is right for your child.