Is Private School The Right Choice For My Family?

schoolIntellectual stimulation, one of the purposes behind school. And now the greatest question of them all – what kind of school is best for my family?

I don’t have any children so it’s not a decision I need to make right now. I do like to plan ahead and reading all these personal finance blogs makes we wonder what option I’d go for.

The four choices of schooling boils down to private, public, charter, and homeschooling. The obvious difference is cost. Public (includes Charter) schools are funded from tax revenues and private schools are funded from grants, fundraising, alumni, and of course…tuition. Homeschooling is at home or another homeschoolers home; this is cheap.

Facts About Private Schools

For the purpose of this article we are focusing our attention on private schools primarily from kindergarten through grade school.

According to the National U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, there are approximately 33,366 private schools in the U.S. as of the year 2011. This is compared to 98,716 public schools of that same date. What’s interesting is, since the year 2000 public schools have grown about 10 percent from 2000 to 2011, and private schools have only grown about 1.5 percent – it could be that a weak economy has something to do with this discrepancy in growth. Home schooling on the other hand has slowly grown in the last decade. In 2012-2013 approximately 2,010,198 kids were homeschooled.

The average tuition for private school is slightly above $10,000. It can be over or under depending on where you live in the country.

Student to teacher ratio is a hard fact to get your hands on. It’s generally accepted that this ratio is smaller in private schools compared to public. It’s hard to swallow that government statistics say the average ratio, in public schools across the U.S. is 16.2 to 1. My girlfriend is a public middle school teacher and her class ratio is 35 to 1.lightbulb

Charter Schools are great but tough to get into. I’ve heard they work on a lottery type system and those with siblings already enrolled also get picked first.

What is a Private Education Worth to Your Family?

We want the best for our kids, and there’s no dispute in the statistics when it comes to results. When reviewing the scholastic results of private vs. public schools, the private schools come out ahead in all categories. So, as far as an educational perspective, the cost of private school speaks for itself.

With charter schools the educational competency gap isn’t as wide. Charter school students do better academically and the student to teacher ratio is much smaller; comparable to private. But you still have to deal with the fact that it’s publicly funded and tough to get into.

When comparing private to homeschooling the stats show that they both do well on standardized testing, and better than public. But with homeschooling one parent must remain at home and your children don’t get as much practice developing social skills. There are ways to work around this by making part of your homeschooling curriculum social activities and enrolling in sports or other classes with children their age.

Ask yourself, Is Private School the Right Choice for My Family?

Let’s say you’re now leaning towards a private school. If cost is within your budget, as parents, you now have to determine the type of private school you want your child to attend.

It basically boils down to non-sectarian and others (religious). As a Christian I’d probably want a private Christian school, if I chose the private school route. There are other smaller niches such as military and boarding schools, but the majority of private schools fall in the category of what we described above.

The only right answer is what’s good for you and your family. What belief system do you practice? Is the curriculum of a particular private school in line with yours? Teachers experience and education are also factors? These are some of the questions you must answer to find a private school that’s right for your family. But there’s something even more important – does the school fit your child’s needs?

Your child is the one who needs to benefit from the school you choose for them. Will the pace of learning and core subjects be challenging and achievable for your child? Is the schools structure right for their social upbringing? Is the environment conducive for “intellectual stimulation?”

Hopefully we have stimulated some thought about the value, not only of costs, but overall development of private schools. Is this to say that public schools are a total failure? No, of course not. Am I saying that homeschooling is only a choice if you can’t afford private? Not at all. But if you can afford and choose to go with a private school that fits your family structure financially and morally, then there’s going to be a lot more right than wrong.

This will be an investment that becomes part of your legacy that you leave for your children.

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  1. I like that you pointed out to pick a private school that coincides with your beliefs. We’ve recently moved to a new area, and I think that starting my kids in a good private school could really benefit them in the future. I like the idea of having a christian private school to help my kids, but the most important thing to me is that they are learning the things that will help them later in life!

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