4 Reasons Why Private Schools Work
By Pam Moore
From the moment our kids are born, we’re tasked with deciding what’s best for them. All that decision-making can be exhausting. So we caught up with experts in the field of education to help you make an informed decision about one of the most important choices of all: your child’s education. We asked why parents should consider private school. Here’s what they had to say.
Smaller Classes One of the greatest strengths of any private school is smaller class sizes. Smaller classes ensure each child is being met where they are at and encouraged to meet their potential. “Every child is known and loved in a safe environment that is more conducive to learning by way of smaller class sizes, more challenging curriculum, and more individualized attention and teaching,” noted Holly Peterson, a Catholic school principal.
Meanwhile, in the age of information, it’s becoming increasingly more important to give children the skills to think for themselves when consuming social and news media. According to Peterson, who has over three decades of experience in education, “Small class sizes and individualized instruction give students the ability to become critical thinkers.”
Social-Emotional Learning Many private schools emphasize SEL curricula. Social-emotional learning (SEL) gives children the skills to manage their own emotions so that they can ultimately make better decisions and be better citizens. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, it’s based on five core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
And data show it’s effective. According to a 2011 meta-analysis published in Child Development, students who were exposed to school-based SEL curricula demonstrated notable improvements in social and emotional skills and behaviors as well as improved academic performance. Meanwhile, a 2017 Society for Research in Child Development study showed that children who participated in school-based SEL programs had higher graduation rates and safer sexual behavior than their peers, even 18 years post-intervention.
Extracurricular Opportunities Oftentimes, parents gravitate toward private education because of the extracurricular activities it offers. Because private schools tend to specialize in specific areas (e.g. math and science or the arts), students get to enjoy more specialized afterschool activities. That said, private school can also offer opportunities for a wide range of extracurriculars. According to Susan Boyle, the director of admissions and marketing at a private school, the chance to expose kids to a wide array of experiences, starting at a young age, is a key advantage of private school.
Community One of the top reasons many parents choose a private school is the strong community it offers. According to Tom Mecsey, a Catholic school principal, “The community and level of parental involvement in private schools is very special. Families who choose this option often have a lot in common, as they have made an intentional decision to send their child to a particular school (often for similar reasons) rather than base it on a neighborhood, etc.” Meanwhile, he says, that enhanced sense of community deepens children’s learning experiences. “We have found that there tends to be greater parental interest and involvement in the day-to-day activities of their children. This, in turn, fosters greater communication,” Mecsey explained. “The communication between school and home enables the school to be more responsive to students’ needs.”
Pam Moore is an award-winning freelance health and fitness writer, occupational therapist, and certified personal trainer. She’s also the host of the Real Fit podcast. To get her free guide to crushing Impostor Syndrome visit pam-moore.com.