Education

8 Questions To Ask When Choosing a Private School

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If you’re contemplating private school for your child, making the right choice is a big part of your decision. Different schools offer different teaching philosophies and learning environments and making the right match for your child is key to their success.

Here are eight important questions that you should ask as you consider a private school. The information you receive will help paint you a clearer picture and guide you in making the best choice for your child.

What curriculum is followed?
A curriculum is simply what your child will be expected to learn throughout the school year. It’s imperative that you know what is going to be taught to see if there are any potential questions or disagreements. Private schools are not required to adhere to the state of Georgia’s public school curriculum, but it is easily available online and will tell you what their peers will be learning. This can be helpful so as to have some sort of comparison between the school you’re considering and its public school counterpart. Is it more rigorous? Less? How does it compare to other private schools that you’ve interviewed? Knowing your child’s current academic ability and strengths should help you analyze each school’s curriculum and factor it into your final choice appropriately.

What is their philosophy on education?
This is an area where you can choose your child’s school according to the environment in which they naturally thrive. Some schools have structured, disciplined methods based on fact memorization. Others have a discussion-based approach that is meant to encourage independent thinking. Schools can have tailored lesson design based on the different learning styles (auditory, visual or kinesthetic). Technology could be heavily featured. Faith could play a part. These are all considerations you have to make in keeping with the child’s needs and your values.

What extracurricular activities are offered?
Education is well and good, but it’s not the only thing that matters to a student. Extracurriculars provide important social interaction with groups of people with similar interests. They have the power to motivate and inspire children to succeed in other areas as well. What sports do they offer? Are there any student clubs? Are the clubs offered of any interest to your child? Are new clubs allowed to be made? These are the kinds of questions to ask.

How are the parents involved?
Parents need to be involved in some way with the education of their children. How do your potential schools foster parental involvement in a healthy way? Are there regular parent-teacher conferences? Is there a parent-teacher organization? What lines of communication are open between the parents and teachers?

What is the average class size?
More individual attention from the teacher results in higher student performance. You want to make sure that the average class size in your potential school isn’t too large. Big class sizes can signal that the school is understaffed and will be unable to give your child the amount of personal education they require.

What facilities are provided?
You may want to ask about the school’s facilities to see if they have any truly special offerings. Do they have a computer lab? An audio-visual room? A nice gymnasium? A library? A theater? Depending on your child, a school having one of these paired with an interesting extracurricular can make all the difference.

What is the turnover rate for the staff?
This can be an overlooked question, but the answer will provide a key insight in regard to the quality of the school. Would you want to work somewhere with an abnormally high turnover rate? Probably not, so sending your child to a school that churns through teachers can be problematic. Having staff stability shows that both the teachers and the administration are happy with each other. Plus, if your child does eventually have a favorite teacher or teachers, you can be reasonably confident that they will be able to stay in touch with them through the school for years. This builds mutual trust and respect between the students and faculty throughout their education.

What are the challenges your school has overcome?
Every school faces challenges. Whether they have to do with funding, serious issues with the faculty, difficulties with students or anything in between. How they overcome these can reveal the true nature of the administration. If a school claims they have had no challenges or won’t discuss them, it can raise potential red flags. You deserve to see how the administration handles adversity.

There are other pertinent questions, but these will get the ball rolling in your interview and ensure that you have a clear perception of the school’s values. Once those have been established, compare them against your own and your child’s requirements to make an informed decision. It can seem daunting, but we know you’ve got what it takes!

Photo credit: photo courtesy of New Life Academy of Excellence