1. Individual Attention
Most parents want their children to have as much personal attention as possible. After all, you spent enormous amounts of time nurturing them when they were infants. If you can make it happen, you want them receiving as much individual attention as possible in the preschool and primary years.
If you send your child to a private school, she will be in a small class in most schools. Independent schools have class sizes in a range of 10-15 students. Parochial schools have slightly larger class sizes which are typically in the 20-25 student range. With those kinds of low student to teacher ratios a teacher can give each student the individual attention she deserves.
The other factor to consider is that discipline is not usually a problem in private schools. There are two reasons why: most students are in private school because they want to learn and, secondly, the codes of conduct by which most private schools operate, are enforced. In other words if a student misbehaves or breaks the rules, there will be consequences.
2. Parental Involvement
Private schools expect parents to be actively involved in their child's education. The concept of a three way partnership is an important part of the way most private schools work. Naturally the degree of participation and involvement will probably be greater if you have a child in preschool or elementary grades than if you are the parent of a child away at boarding school.
What kind of involvement are we talking about? That depends on you and the amount of time which you can devote to helping out. That also depends on your talents and experience. The important thing to do is to observe and see where you can fit in. If the school needs a gifted organizer to run the annual auction, then help out as a committee member for a year or two before offering to take on that major responsibility. If your daughter's teacher asks you to help chaperone a field trip, that's an opportunity to show what a great team player you are.
3. Academic Issues
Most private schools do not have to teach to a test. As a result, they can afford to focus on teaching your child how to think, as opposed to teaching her what to think. That's an important concept to understand. In many public schools poor test scores can mean less money for the school, negative publicity and even the chance that a teacher could be reviewed unfavorably.
Private schools don't have those pressures of public accountability. They must meet or usually exceed state curriculum and graduation minimum requirements. But they are accountable only to their clientele. If the school does not achieve the desired results, parents will find a school which does.
Because private school classes are small, your child cannot hide in the back of the class. If she does not understand a math concept, the teacher will probably discover that pretty quickly. He can address that learning issue on the spot, rather than waiting weeks or months to fix it.
Many schools use a teacher guided approach to learning so that students discover that learning is exciting and full of possibilities. Since private schools offer all kinds of educational methods and approaches ranging from very traditional to very progressive, it is up to you to choose a school whose approach and philosophy meshes best with your own aims and objectives.
4. A Balanced Program
Ideally you want your child to have a balanced program in school. A balanced program can be defined as equal parts academics, sports and extracurricular activities. Most private schools try to achieve that kind of balanced program. In private school everybody takes part in sports. Wednesdays in many schools are a half day of formal classes and a half day of sports. At boarding schools, after classes end on Saturday mornings everybody heads out for sports.
Sports programs and facilities vary greatly from school to school. Some of the more established boarding schools have sport programs and facilities which are finer than those at many colleges and universities. Regardless of the scope of a school's sports program, what is really important is that every child is required to participate in some athletic activity.
Extracurricular activities are the third component in a balanced program. Like the compulsory sports students must participate in some extracurricular activity.
As you begin to explore school websites, review the sports and extracurricular activities as carefully as you review the academic curriculum. Make sure that your child's interests and needs are properly met. You should also note that intramural sports and most extracurricular activities are coached or supervised by a faculty member. That's part of the job description in most private schools. Seeing your math teacher coaching the soccer team and sharing the same passion for the sport that you have, well, that makes a huge impression on a young mind. In a private school teachers have the opportunity to be exemplars in many things.
5. Religious Teaching
Public schools have to keep religion out of the classroom. Private schools can teach religion or ignore it according to the mission and philosophy of the particular school. If you are a devout Lutheran, there are hundreds of Lutheran owned and operated schools in which your Lutheran beliefs and practices will not only be respected but they will be taught on a daily basis. The same is true of all the other religious denominations. All you have to do is find a school which meets your needs.