You have decided that you want to explore a private school education for your child. The process of choosing a school seems simple enough. All you have to do is identify schools you think are a good "fit" for your child. Then you evaluate them, select the ones you like and send in the applications. That's all there is to it, right? In theory, yes! But there's a lot more to it - and a lot to learn about the process.
Private schools generally fall into two main categories, but there are many differences among schools in each category. Those two categories are religious schools and independent schools.
The majority of middle Tennessee's private schools fall into the first category, and are associated with a particular religion or religious faith. Independent schools have no official affiliation with a church or faith.
The goal of religious schools is to provide academic excellence in a spiritual environment. Whether you're interested in exploring religious schools, independent schools, or both, the greatest advice one can offer regarding private school selection is to do some "comparison shopping".
Here are some key areas to compare:
Academic Curriculum - Does the school offer a complete menu of educational programs? Is there a strong focus on core programs, such as the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic? Is there the opportunity to pursue learning in other fields of study, including the arts and foreign languages?
Class Size - Will your child be in an environment to receive quality one on one time from their teacher? The teacher-student ratio is a key piece of information to gather on each school on your list.
Technology - Does the school provide students with ample opportunity to work with computers and computer systems?
Atmosphere - Private schools are generally known for the overall positive atmosphere they can provide young minds. How does each school compare to the others?
Accreditation - Is your school accredited by a respected organization? The accreditation process is a thorough analysis by an independent group. It is the 'grade' given to your school. If your school is not accredited, make sure they are at least undergoing the process.
Tuition - Of course a private education comes with an annual tuition cost. It's important to make sure that you have a plan in place to cover those costs.
There is no better way to learn about a school than to arrange a visit and take a tour. Most schools are happy to oblige such requests.