Are private schools really that much better than public schools?
As someone who went to private school from k-8 and switched to public for high school, I would say that private school and public school both have pros and cons. If you can afford private school, I would definitely recommend giving it a try just to see if your child likes it.
Private School (K-8)
- Pro: Most of my classes were only made of about 15 kids which really let the teacher get to know you as an individual and give you as much help as you needed whenever you needed it.
- Con: If for some reason your class had a certain kid you didn't like ( I had a few of those) you are most likely going to be stuck with them for almost every class. At my school, the kids who were at the same academic level where all placed together and had all 8 classes together every day.
Rules and dress codes/uniforms
- Pro: Disciplines kids and teaches them authority and to respect adults (works for some kids but of course there are always some rebellious ones) Also dress codes where very strict, only allowing 12 inch inseam for shorts and tucked in shirts with belts which were enforced to "prepare" us for future jobs and uniforms at work. Only collared shirts in 5 different colors and navy and khaki pants were allowed. Sometimes I miss the uniforms because it was so easy to get dressed in the morning and I never had to worry about wearing the same outfit as someone because everyone was wearing the same thing anyways.
- Cons: Rules wise, there wasn't a lot of freedom. No cellphones or tablets of any sort were allowed to be used or even seen at school, which of course wasn't a problem when I was younger because no one had phones, but now with every age having them, it might be a little hard to enforce and keep kids off them. Certain teachers wouldn't even allow any candy, food, gum, or even water in their class because it was too much if a "distraction". Talking out of turn or not tracking and tapping when you read would result in getting points off (a system my school formed for punishment, like detention) Moving onto the dress code side of things, there were many limitations on to what you could wear. No bright nail polish, dyed hair, peircings, certain hair bows and scrunchies, bracelets, hats, brightly colored shoes, etc. There were not many ways to express yourself which put a damper on some kids creativity and self confidence. And they were just plain ugly...
- Pro: Direct instruction. Classes were structured and aimed to challenge students. Rigorous learning exercises and techniques were used to make sure the material was being obtained and would be remembered. Teachers were very skilled and experienced with what they were teaching and seemed to have a passion for what was being taught (not saying public school teachers aren't). Spanish and Latin were both parts of the curriculum and allowed them to dip their toes into different cultures.
- Con: As you stated above, you do not want your daughter to be brought up with a certain religion. This may be an issue for certain schools you consider because mine was not advertised as a Christian school but most if not all teachers taught from a religious perspective and encouraged children to adopt their religion. Due to the small amount of children who mostly shared the same religion anyways, this teaching wasn't really oppossed or questioned. Also dealing with the small amount of children, there wasn't a large variety of classes and clubs to take. Only two languages were offered and most clubs were either aimed towards science and engineering or technology. There was also a considerable amount of homework, sometimes I would have 3 essays all due on the same day or hours of homework in each class. You had to have amazing time management to survive.
Close knit community
- Pro: Everybody knows everybody. You know who's friends with who, everyone's parents, almost everything about them. It created a lot of friendships and a great environment to grow up in.
- Con: Gossip, because no one spreads it like teenage girls. You will have this wherever you send your daughter, but since noting new happened too often, new drama spread like wildfire.
Year round schedule
- Pro: Breaks....all the time! Every nine weeks you get three off, what could be bettter. Right when you get bored from school you have a break. Creates a lot of vacation time and allows your family to travel when it's less busy.
- Con: The summer. My school only gave us 5 weeks off which wasn't a lot of time to do much of anything. We also never got teacher work days and never had snow days built into the calendar.
Other things to consider
- Tuition - As you probably already know, a large sum of money is going into your kids education. Tuition just by itself is expensive, but so are most uniforms, textbooks, and school supplies.
- Carpool - No bus transportation is available so if possible, carpool would be a great gas and time saver.
- Diversity - Most of my school was full of rich white kids. I knew maybe 10 black kids from k-5 and rarely had foreign students. I didn't have a male teacher until 6th grade and didn't have a teacher of color until 7th. New kids were rare, 10 new kids if we were lucky per grade each year.
- Special ed - My school did not provide any learning accommodations to anyone with learning disabilities. Children who's parents hadn't taught them or exposed them to kids different to them weren't taught at school how to treat them. Most kids that were enrolled that had Tourette's or ADHD were often picked on and view as weaker and stupid.
- Friends - We had about 500 kids k-8 so there was only a limited about of people to make friends with. Like I said before, there weren't many new kids and not much variety in students, teachers/staff.
Overall, my experience with private school was excellent k-5. The education was amazing and I really loved the environment and what I was learning. But with that being said, I really hated middle school as most kids do. The education was still excellent but there were just so many cliques and drama going around, I just couldn't deal with it. My bad experiences in middle school have definitely influenced my opinions on private school and having switched to public, I would never go back. My parents send me to private school for k-5 was the best thing they could have done for me, but I would have switched to public for middle if I could have. If you can afford it, I would definitely recommend trying it out.
*I have written all of the information about my years at private school based on experiences and opinions. Mine could be the polar opposite of someone who attended the same school, but I wanted to be completely honesty so you could have more information when deciding which school to send your child to*
- Pro: Larger classes, somewhere around 25–35 kids, does make the class more interesting. Hearing from so many different people and having students with all different learning styles creates a really unique learning environment.
- Con: It gets loud. Having all those kids talking at once can be kind of annoying, definitely for someone who is used to a class being silent. Also the size does make it more difficult for the teacher to help everyone and make sure there are enough supplies to go around.
Rules and dress codes/uniforms
- Pro: Freedom!!! There is flexibility in rules and dress code. Not having uniforms eliminates a significant amount of rules and opens up a vast selection of what to wear. Of course there is still the no spaghetti strap rule because shoulders are sooooo distracting and no crop tops and short shorts but you can dye your whole head if you want to, have as many piercings/accessories as you want.
- Con: Less rules and more freedom does have its cons though. Kids don't listen as well, some don't respect adults, others skip class. It takes a lot longer to get ready in the morning. I find myself doing a lot more shopping and spending what would have been tuition money on shoppin trips.
- Pro: Only having four classes compared to eight makes it a lot easier to manage time and focus on your work. But since block is only in high school, I can't really compare the k-8 classes schedules. The curriculum is standard, academic, honors, and AP classes are available so the intensity of work and learning is up for the student to decide. I would say having received the education from private school then switching to public, all of my classes were easy. I was placed in all honors and received two credits from middle school. Prodigies are born in both environments and really depends on if your child applies themselves. The homework load is less which is absolutely something to be happy about.
- Con: Common core. It might just be me coming from a more structured way of learning but I hate common core. There is a common format and plan teaching, hence the name, and the teacher can then put their own spin and style of teaching on the subject. For other students though it works just fine and they've grown up with it .
Close knit community
- Not that this isn't at public school, just with having a close knit community with a constant cycle of new kids, it's hard to form as close of one at a larger school. Coming from a 500 kid school to 2000 kid school, the transition interesting....
- Pro: I love summer break so much!!!!! I never knew what I was missing out on. The teacher work days and random holidays I've never had off before is great. There are snow days built in and just a really well planned out schedule.
- Con: Riding the bus in the morning to be able to make it to school by 7:25 kind of sucks but it's not unbearable. Christmas break this past year was only 10 days which was kind of short but the long summer makes up for it.
Other things to consider
- No Tuition - Saving some money never hurts
- Carpool - Bus or carpool, whatever you choose, you've got options
- Diversity - White, black, yellow, purple, you've got a little but if everybody from everywhere
- Special ed - Students with learning disabilities are included in all activities and are always involved in school activities
- Friends - With tons of clubs and different classes you can take, your always meeting new people and making new friends
Overall, my freshman year at public school has been amazing. I took all honors classes and got straight As. I love the diversity and amazing group of people I get to be around. There are so many classes and clubs available to join and there's something for everybody. If there is a good rated public school in your area, I would definitely consider it.
*I've only been at public school for a year so I don't know much about it. I've tried my best to explain the difference but there is still a gap I missed from not going to a public school for K-8*
All in all, my apologies for writing a book, if there is a good public school in your area, I would send your daughter there. And if money is an issue, I would strongly recommend public school to save that money on tuition. But if there are no decent public schools in the area or if money is not an issue, private school is the way to go. Best of lucky to you and your daughter :)