When choosing the right school for your child it is important to consider the many factors that make public and private schools different. There are also multiple kinds of schools in each category that are also very different from each other. Things like the teaching staff, curriculum, testing, class size and cost are all part of the decision-making for the right school. Those who prefer or recommend public school typically promote its diversity and real-world skill training. Private school advocates use the better testing scores, sense of community and individualized learning as talking points. Mr. Mark discussed this topic on The Rhode Show. Watch it here!

The first step to figuring out the public v. private school debate is looking at the school system in the area in which you live. Even before your child goes to elementary school it is a great start to do your research. Find the scoring results, teaching qualifications and history of the public school department of your area. The next step would be weighing the pros and cons of the school compared to a private school option. If cost is an issue, there may be schools that offer financial aid and assistance to families. Sometimes this depends on the child’s commitment to good grades and family income.

The teaching staff at each type of school may differ greatly. Many believe that teachers from private schools may be automatically more qualified than public school teachers. In reality, public schools often require state certifications that private schools may not. Also, degree levels are higher in public schools as many school systems can afford higher salaries for their teachers. Private schools are typically more focused on a mission that would hire teachers of certain qualifications, but there is no standard among all schools.

The curriculum and class size vary from school to school. On most websites, a school will list their teacher to child ratio and describe the breakdown of curriculum for each age level.  The size of a class can help determine the teachers ability to have an individual based approach and cater to the needs of each child in their class. Many private schools are religion-based and would include a curriculum dedicated to spirituality and the history of the religion. Private schools commonly have more days off during the year, may begin and end earlier in the year.

These are important factors to consider when placing your child. It can also help determine at what age you should begin private school. Some families prefer to wait for the usual cutoffs of elementary, middle and high schools to start a new program.  Private schools may have admission criteria, testing and waiting lists so it is important to begin the process early. As always, consider your child and their needs. Whenever possible include them in the decision-making and think of the bigger, long-term results of such a decision. 

Posted by Mel Cline