Many parents turn to private schools when it comes to the business of educating their children. While private schools may offer several advantages, often many positive aspects of a private school are not taken advantage of by parents and students. If you are planning on enrolling or have recently enrolled in a private school, consider the following points.
- Speak Up-While some students will make their presence known no matter how large or small their classes might be, others sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Shy, introverted children may not speak up when they need help or just have a question they'd like to ask simply because they are too intimidated to talk in front of a roomful of other students. Students who attend a private school, however, generally find that their class sizes are smaller and less imposing. Students should take advantage of this by asking questions and participating in class discussions as often as possible. Not only will this allow them to receive the extra help they might need, but it will also give them some practice in speaking before small groups of people...a skill they'll need once they enter college.
- Teacher/Student Communication-Private schools typically offer students a more personal, hands-on approach to teaching. Teachers know their students quite well, but they may also be familiar with the families of their students, too. Because class loads may be lighter, teachers may have more opportunity to speak with their students one-on-one, offering guidance and even counseling, if necessary. Students should take advantage of this fact by taking the time to talk to their teachers about their schoolwork and any other problems or issues that might arise.
- Close Friendships-Another advantage of private schools involves the close friendships that can develop among students. Smaller graduating classes typically imply that the students form tighter bonds with each other. Those who attend private parochial schools may also find that they have much in common, including their religious beliefs. Those who do come from different backgrounds should still be able to find acceptance into their peer groups by taking advantage of the wide variety of extracurricular activities and becoming as involved as possible in their school. Students should look for opportunities to reach out to other students, forming lasting friendships that can follow them into adulthood.
- Curriculum Choices-Many students also benefit from broader curriculum choices. Extracurricular activities, such as arts and drama, sporting events, and other areas are often a huge draw for those looking for specialized areas in education. Students need to peruse the course offerings of the school in which they are enrolled, and visit the sponsors of clubs and organizations to inquire about the activities that are offered. They should also talk with the coaches of any sporting events they might be interested in participating in.
- School Property and Grounds-Many parents and students immediately decided upon a certain school simply based on their first impressions. Schools which take pride in their surroundings, including buildings and grounds, often echo that pride throughout the hallways of their buildings as well. Students should look for ways to keep their school beautiful. They could join a garden club, volunteer on weekends, and offer to contribute their talents to improving both the school grounds and the neighboring community, for example by organizing a clean-up of a neighborhood park.
- Security-At many private schools, students enjoy a sense of security that public schools may not always be able to offer. While of course, violence can occur virtually anywhere, private school faculties and staff are often more aware of their students' intellectual and emotional needs. Because of the tighter bond between the students and between students and teachers, students may feel that they can approach anyone on staff in regards to bullying and any other threats or problems. If a student finds himself in this situation, he should be able to tell his teachers, counselors or principals about what is happening.
- Parent/Faculty Communication-Finally, because parents are paying tuition and other fees for their children to attend a private school, they should expect consistent contact and feedback concerning their children's education. Parents should feel that their needs are addressed. After all, they are spending a considerable amount of money on their child's education and they have a vested interest in the curriculum and the performance of their faculty and staff.