“Should I send my child to private or public school?” It’s a question many parents ask, and at the end of the day, where you decide to send your child to school is a personal decision. But we can help give you the pros and cons of private school versus public school to make that choice a bit easier. There are, obviously, tangible pluses for both private and public schools. And there are downsides. However, there are also intangibles that may be important to you and your family.
Private schools have a smaller class size than public schools. If your child requires more attention from the teacher due to learning disabilities, being in a smaller class, where the teacher has the time to get to know each child, can make a huge difference. The same goes for a gifted child. He/she may find a slow-paced class geared for general education boring. While in contrast, a classroom where the teacher can challenge your child specifically, can enhance the learning experience.
All public school teachers are licensed and certified. This means that they have passed all the standardized tests required by the state, passed a background check and have taken the required graduate classes. At private schools, not all teachers are state certified. However, you’re also more likely to find a lawyer or medical doctor teaching your child history and science. Private schools have the ability to attract people who have real-life working experience. On the other hand, just because someone has a Ph.D. or an MD doesn’t necessarily make him/her a great teacher who can present the information in a digestible way for kids. Open houses during the spring and summer are a good way for parents to get to know teachers before enrolling their student.
Public schools follow a set curriculum given to them by the Department of Education (DOE). This means that classes are set and that you’ll be sure your child will get requisite a math, English, science, history, and physical education. Private schools must also meet basic DOE requirements too, but teachers are free to create their own curriculum and don’t need to follow a specific set of worksheets or teach from a specific text.
If you want your child to be exposed to college-like classes, private schools often offer courses such as microbiology, Shakespeare, philosophy and other electives that aren’t available in public schools. The curriculum guide will give you a good idea of what electives are available and if those classes are focused on areas that are interesting to your child.
Public schools are free and many of the services provided are free as well. Some schools offer free or reduced lunches to qualifying families. You can also be sure that your child receives any special needs services. They will have their own group of experts and learning specialists crafting an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) if needed. This IEP is transferable to a private school. If you decide to switch and it will be overseen by the learning specialist.
Private schools include religious schools, so annual prices range from several thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Other costs that come with private schools include textbooks, uniforms, materials, school field trips and possibly even boarding if you decide to send your child to a boarding school. Some private schools do offer partial or full financial aid. Plus, there are always scholarships available, so make sure to look into those. Some are funded by the school while others may be funded by a generous donor or alumni.
And to make it more complicated, you have more options than just public or private school. There are also homeschooling, virtual schools, magnet and charter schools that are a blend of both private and public schools when it comes to curriculum and funding. The important question to ask when searching for schools is: What school will allow my child to enjoy learning and prepare him/her for the real world?