As school boots back up for the fall, many parents are already looking ahead to what’s next, having put aside worries about day care and summer camp. Many parents may have made the decision to enroll their children in private school, which make up about a quarter of all schools in the United States. In 2016, almost three million students were attending a private elementary school. Private schools, many parents feel, do offer their children an advantage in an increasingly competitive college arena, where AP credits are becoming the norm and internships for high schoolers are increasing. For younger children, keeping their minds stimulated during the long months of summer can also be helpful (and make the transition back to school a bit easier) with day care or summer camps that promote learning and activities.
When Should I Start Thinking About Private Schools?
It’s technically never too early to start thinking about what kind of education you want your child to have. Private schools start as early as preschool, which is highly encouraged. In 2015, almost 90% of five-year-olds in the United States attended some kind of preprimary program. About half of these went to full-day programs, not just half day programs.
This can set the right kind of groundwork educationally for your child, with smaller classroom sizes, more attentive teachers, and innovative teaching methods to get your child ready for primary school. If they’re in a half-day program, some private schools may even offer day care services for the rest of the day, but that will largely depend on the program. Be sure to check!
Furthermore, if you choose a private preschool that operates older branches, your child may wind up with the same children in primary, middle, and high school, which can help strengthen friendships and make those transitions easier.
What are the Benefits of Private Schools?
Private schools require testing for entry, so it promotes a highly competitive and high-achieving environment. It also caps the number of students allowed to enroll, which means that smaller class sizes are easily obtainable and the children are all starting around the same level. In public schools, teachers may have much larger class sizes and struggle with a wide swathe of learning capabilities in one classroom.
Perhaps this contributes to some of the positive private school statistics. For example, over 20% of public school teachers say that student apathy is an issue, versus only 4% of private school teachers. And almost a quarter of public school teachers say that a lack of parental involvement is a problem, compared to 3% at private schools. It stands to reason that parents who are paying out of pocket for their child’s education are invested and actively involved.
As your child gets older, the education and college prep is also more intensive. At private schools, counselors report that they spend over half their time on college-related counseling, compared to under 25% at public schools, and around 95% of private high school graduates head to four-year colleges, compared with just under half of public school graduates. And average SAT scores across private schools is almost 200 points higher than the national average across all schools.
For many parents, this is a worthy investment in their child’s future.
How Can I Keep My Child Engaged Over the Summer?
However, many educators worry about the long summer break, where students are often left to their own devices. Good study habits (and other educational habits) can easily be broken during that time. For younger children, a structured, educational day care can help keep young minds stimulated. Summer camps can do the same for older children and as their interests develop, you can target specific summer camps. Some, for example, might focus on sports, others on the performing arts, technology, or writing.
You want to keep your child active and engaged throughout the year as much as possible. Catering to their strengths and their interests can keep them motivated and excited about learning, and a private school setting might help them explore their passions and creativity in a larger way.