private school or not

Posted on 2012-09-07
Last Modified: 2012-09-28
I wanted to hear your thoughts about the possibility of sending my, soon to be, 5 year old son to private or elementary school?  Your thoughts/experience would be appreciated.
Question by:vulture71
    LVL 82

    Expert Comment

    by:Dave Baldwin
    That's too vague a question because there's so much good and bad in both areas.  Private school sounds good until you find out that many small private schools are... well, I wouldn't hire the people that run them without a criminal background check.  You really need to check out the specific schools to make any kind of reasonable judgement.  There just aren't any useful generalizations.
    LVL 18

    Expert Comment

    Agree with DaveBaldwin that your question is too vague, but here is a generalization that is often true in a metro area for competitive private schools -- might even be true for the only private school in a locale.

    The grade levels are often 1 - 2 years more advanced than the same levels at a public school.

    Your son is 5 and ready for kindergarten.  Ask yourself the following:
    Does he already read full sentences - or almost?  
    Is he socially mature for his age?

    Visit the school and see what the children are doing in kindergarten - reading level, socialization.  You don't want your child straining to just be at the average level. In our metro area, it seems like half the private school children are on medication by the time they get to high school -- a lot of pressure.

    We often suggest to parents that they hold their child back a year or two, if they select a private school.  See the About Me section of my EE Profile.
    LVL 26

    Expert Comment

    Yep, too vague. Also nowhere near enough info about parents and child. In perhaps a large majority, the ongoing interactions between parents and child are so much more important that the choice of public/private is irrelevant. There are many cases where the wrong choice is detrimental -- in both alternatives.

    The choice isn't exactly "public or private". It needs also to have "...for us" included.

    Our daughter entered public school a year early and stayed ahead of her classmates throughout. Her important education didn't come from school anyway, with the major exceptions of social interactions and the concept of "school". In Oregon, her college major was Education.

    Before getting her degree, she was accepted at the Montessori International Academy in London. She finished there some four years ago, and now is a teacher recruiter for a large group of Montessori schools in California, Oregon and Washington.

    For her, the experience of public schools was very good. I'm not sure how she could be happier in doing anything else at this point, and everything before led up to it. But... for someone else? Well, someone else has to decide.

    LVL 20

    Accepted Solution

    The difficulty to say clear “yes” or “no” resides on different real situations as:
    - there are in the same town, many times, non-private schools which give better or worse education/image
    - there are in the same school different classes (same year of study) which give better or worse education/image
    - the difference between good and bad is given by the teachers and sometimes the kids.

    There is also home schooling, which for some seems a good alternative – but not in all countries is a valid option.

    Theoretically in the private school, the teachers should take care more of the children. The material base for study should be better. But is not always like that. I consider the relation teacher-children the most valuable part after the teacher education/experience/personality. Some people are born with these “gifts” of interacting with children.
    My wife is a real example. She knows from her nature how to get children’s attention and how to motivate them to do/learn things. But not all teachers are like that even if they finished the college with maximum grades.

    I consider the method of teaching very important, besides the matters to learn.

    When we moved last year 600km in another town, (my daughter just finished the kindergarten) this is what we looked over first: a good school, then a place to stay near by. We visited 3 schools in town and we have chosen the best that we considered. Still we missed the best one. We did not even know about it, even if we asked different people from town. Later, by chance, we became friends with a lady – schools inspector. And she confirmed what we find out later – about the best school that we mist.
    We wanted to change the school; some friends did with their child. But finally we did not. The teacher that my daughter has is good and my daughter likes her.
    So, what is so good at the other school?: the method of teaching and the way how the school program is organized.

    There are some different teaching methods, besides normal elementary school, maybe you heard of them: Waldorf and Montessori and Reggio. Maybe the first 2 are more known. We have a family friend who has the child at Montessori. She is very happy with that school.

    One thing that you should not neglect is the expenses. How much will cost you per year? If you cannot afford it then you should not be stressed about it. Many children (as I, my entire family and most of my friends) went in normal elementary school. And we did fine.

    Private school is not always better for your child. Children have to be pushed many times.
    Find out about the local teachers in that specific school and speak with some parents who already have their children in that school to see their opinion.
    I suggest you to find also a school inspector local in your town and ask her/his opinion about different schools.

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