When making a school choice, families have a number of choices today, including public schools, charter schools, online schools and private independent schools. Families often ask: what are the benefits of a private school education? There are more than 2,000 private schools in the United States educating more than 700,000 pre-k through high school students. Private schools today are in demand because they are often uniquely positioned to provide families a school choice, particularly during the pandemic. Nearly all of private school graduates go on to college and half of those attend highly selective colleges.
There are many benefits to a private school education. Today, many private schools are reacting to the pandemic by offering families a blended solution: the choice of in-person or virtual learning, options other types of schools may not be able to offer, and the flexibility to choose between options as a family’s comfort level changes. If you are wondering “are private schools worth it?”, here are just a few of the advantages to selecting private school over any other.
Enriched academic opportunities.
One of the known benefits of private schools is that they offer exceptional and challenging educational experiences through extracurricular activities, AP courses, the International Baccalaureate program (and the IB diploma program), gifted programs, and more. Private school students consistently score top grades on standardized tests and college entrance exams, and many schools have an almost 100% rate of students going to their university of choice.
Educational researchers Bruce Biddler and David Berliner did a comprehensive study on class size in 2002 that showed that the smaller the class size, the better the average student performs on academic achievement tests. The benefits of smaller class sizes are stronger the longer a child is exposed to them. Private schools vary considerably in size, but depending on their teaching style, almost all concentrate on the importance of small class sizes to help students individually in weak areas and advance their strengths.
Private schools focus on open communication between parents and administration, and they make it a priority to involve parents in the community. From frequent parent-teacher meetings, social events like breakfasts and family activity weekends, and the participation of parent committees in fundraising projects, families become an essential part of the child’s education. This foundation also helps strengthen parent-child relationships.
A majority of parents surveyed said the dedication of the teachers was their main reason for choosing private school. Instructors are not only qualified but passionate about their subjects, often holding advanced degrees in their field. Within the tight-knit school community, students have close relationships with their teachers. Additionally, smaller class sizes make staff members available for extra help or to challenge individual students.
A safe environment
Private schools have a reputation for maintaining high standards of discipline and respect. Lower staff-to-student ratios enable more effective observation and control of school grounds. The strong sense of community also discourages dangerous behavior. In a Fraser Institute study, abut 72% of parents surveyed with children in the private school system strongly agreed that their school was safe, which significantly improves the quality of the child’s educational experience and achievement. The discipline they learn also boosts their rates for success in post-secondary education, when they are in control of their class attendance and achievement.
Sixty-two percent questioned in a Fraser Institute survey of parents with children in the private school system believe their school’s environment is motivating, supportive and nurturing. Former students frequently report that the friendships they formed in private school have lasted after graduation. A strong sense of pride is often taught in private school alumni, creating robust networking opportunities upon entering the workforce. This is sometimes especially true at faith-based institutions such as Christian, Catholic, Jewish and Islamic schools.
At private schools you’ll find ample resources to support student learning in the classroom, sports field, art studio and beyond. Quality resources and extracurriculars provide students with the opportunity to fully explore their interests and talents.
While academics are the priority for most private schools, many also place a strong emphasis on a well-rounded education and encourage participation in extracurricular activities, like sports, music, arts, or clubs. This involvement helps stimulate students in their studies, as noted in a study at Stanford University that found students involved in the arts are more motivated to learn and are three times more likely to win a school attendance award. Extracurricular activities are able to provide a much-needed break from academic stresses while developing skills and engaging in valuable social situations.
Shared educational philosophy
There are innumerable approaches to education, and finding a school or preschool that matches one’s own perspective can create a positive, productive academic experience for your child. Whether you prefer the student-directed learning method of Montessori, or the arts-based curriculum of a Waldorf or Reggio Emilia-inspired school, choosing the right private school will not only allow students to thrive in a supportive environment and build independence, but also gain unique skills that fit their learning style.
Development for today’s and tomorrow’s world
Private schools go beyond offering the mandatory subjects required by provincial curriculum; they can offer students a wide range of specializations including arts programs, athletics, math and science. Private schools are responsible for producing many leaders in politics, business and society with a history of adapting quickly to changes in technology and culture. And today, they are also sought by parents of kids with special needs such as behavior (including troubled teen behavior) learning, developmental and even physical disabilities.