If you’ve recently made the decision to send your kids to private school, congratulations. The right private school could spearhead your child’s education and help them get a leg up later on in life while getting a more personalized education that will allow them to grow into more well-rounded adults. However, it’s important that you as a parent understand what criteria separates good schools from the rest and what to look for during your visits with administrators. Here are some critical questions that should help you get more information on the school you have your sights on.
What’s Your School’s Vision?
Most private schools will have a clear philosophy and vision, which will permeate through every aspect of how they work, whether it is the curriculum, their approach towards extracurricular activities, community involvement, the type of teachers they hire, the teaching style, etc.
Whatever you do, you want to go with a school that agrees with your own beliefs. The school’s mission statement will usually give you a good idea of what the school is about and will be implemented through the school’s strategic plan. Make sure you ask what the key elements of the philosophy are, how they fit their mission statement, and how exactly they translate to the classroom and student life.
What is Your Ideal Student?
Each particular private school will have a certain profile they will be looking for when picking students. In some cases, they will look at students who excel in certain areas, like science or math, for instance. Some will prefer to go with the athletically or artistically gifted. Others will look for students that show creativity or are socially aware.
So, make sure that you find out if your child needs to have a particular academic focus in order to be accepted and which kind of extracurricular activities they should be engaged in if any. Also, ask how their vision of a perfect student works with their school’s philosophy and vision.
What Kind of Curriculum are You Using?
You should also check which type of curriculum the school uses to make sure that your child has the right academic and learning profile for the school. Make sure you know what the curriculum standards and guidelines are for the school. Also, find out if the curriculum is more student or teacher oriented. Knowing as much as you can about the school’s curriculum will allow you to figure out if the school’s teaching style will fit your child’s learning style and needs.
What are Your Class Sizes?
This one of the most crucial things you should assess from the get-go when interviewing schools. Bigger class sizes usually mean that less attention is paid to each student. You want to go with a school with smaller classes and lower student to teacher ratios so your kids can get all the attention they need. Lower student to teacher ratios can also lead to more student engagement and more differentiated instruction.
But you should also know that not all schools will take advantage of that and give importance to differentiated learning, so make sure that you know whether smaller class sizes will actually be making a difference on the teaching approach.
What Kind of Extracurricular Activities will My Child have Access to?
One of the many perks of private schools is that they often offer a much more varied number of extracurricular activities to choose from. This may include things like lunch or after school clubs, organized sports, community service programs or specialized science and art programs.
You want to pick extracurricular activities that cater to your child’s strengths and interests. For instance, if your kid is a big fan of basketball and would love to be a pro player someday, going with a school with a great team and program could be a great idea.
You also have to take into consideration that the level and number of extracurricular activities a school will offer will often have a direct influence on how much you’ll pay for tuition. And the quality of the staff and their qualifications will also be reflected in tuition fees as well. If you want to understand how tuition fees are calculated and what factors influence them, you can learn more here.
Speaking of the staff, you have to make sure that you know exactly what qualifications are required from teachers. Not all schools are created equal and have the same requirements, and there again, some private schools will hire more accomplished teachers, often asking for as much as a masters in education, which is much higher than what is required from many schools. So, make sure that you don’t cut corners when comes the time to pick a school and don’t be too budget-conscious if you want the best for your child.
How are you Using Technology in Classrooms and as Part of the Curriculum?
Technology is becoming increasingly pervasive both in and out of classrooms and you want to go with a school that will not only teach your children how to use technology but how to use the technology themselves. While many schools will equip classes with e-readers, laptops and interactive whiteboards, others will take it to another level and give advanced classes on subjects like programming, graphic design, computer science or robotics for instance.
Administrators will usually be more than happy to tell you what kind of technological resources they have. However, you want to know if the equipment is actually used to enhance the learning and teaching experience.
So, check how students will be using the technology and what kind of access they will have to it. Also, make sure to ask if they’re teaching any specific technical skills and how the equipment is used in classrooms at all class levels.
Choosing the right private school should be a well thought out process and you should take all the time needed to find a school that fits you and your child. Review as many schools as you can until you find the absolute perfect match.