Considering your child spends around eight hours per day in the classroom, it makes sense to be discerning about the type of school to which you send them. If you want more from your current schooling situation, it may be time to explore the many options available.
No matter your reason for searching, there are several pivotal questions to ask when choosing a private school. Although the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming, taking the time to find the perfect fit for your child is worthwhile. To assist you in the decision-making process, we’ve put together a list of the crucial aspects to consider before making your final selection.
Here are the primary characteristics to consider when choosing a private school for your child.
Mission and Values
The primary criteria to consider when choosing a private school for your child are the school’s mission statement and values. Everything a school does flows from its mission and core values, so make sure those cultivate the kind of environment you want your child experiencing. Time spent in the classroom is critical in forming a student’s worldview and shaping them into young adults, so you must find a private school with values that align with your beliefs.
Use a school’s mission statement as a lens through which to evaluate everything from the textbooks it uses to the people it employs. For example, does the private Christian school you’re considering root all its teachings in biblical principles? Some other aspects to examine when assessing a school’s values are whether the school’s curriculum incorporates faith, centers all course material on its religious beliefs and includes a weekly chapel service.
Leadership and Faculty
The quality of a school’s leadership and staff is essential because your child will learn just as much, if not more, from the people who instruct them as the curriculum they’re following. We can all easily think of an influential teacher we had growing up, which demonstrates the significant impact teachers have on students’ development. Be sure that your child’s future school hires teachers who adhere to the school’s values, take the time to connect with kids and set a good example. This factor is especially crucial for smaller private schools in which students often form close bonds with their teachers.
On a larger scale, make sure the school has a leadership team and board you can trust to make morally sound decisions to guide the school in the right direction. Find a school with leaders who are invested in the school’s community, transparent about the board’s actions and bold in their vision for the school’s future.
Academic Rigor and Reputation
The primary function of a school is, of course, to educate students. Therefore, it’s essential to find a reputable school that’s scholastically rigorous enough to equip your child for college and beyond. Your child’s school should supply them with the tools to succeed academically and challenge themselves intellectually. Ask the private schools at which you’re looking whether they have any special accreditation or certification to validate their institution.
Remember that meeting students’ scholastic needs may mean both offering AP and dual-enrollment courses to stretch them, and providing adequate academic support like tutoring when a student falls behind. A smaller classroom setting could give your child the individualized attention they need to excel. Along with a high-quality core education, try to find a private school that offers a variety of electives so that your child can explore topics they’re interested in, like robotics, writing or video production.
Athletics and Arts Programs
Time outside of the classroom is equally as critical as time within school walls, and extracurriculars can play a vital role in any kid’s personal development. Look for a private school with exceptional programs for the after-school activities your child is most passionate about. Whether your child loves the theater or is more athletically inclined, make sure their future school offers the right team or club.
If your student has a broader range of interests, it may be best to choose a smaller school that offers the opportunity to be part of many different teams or activities and explore various interests. Instead of looking for a private school that specializes in performing arts or that has a reputation for its state championship soccer team, find one that lets students do it all. Participating in an array of extracurricular activities will allow your child to gain teamwork experience, leadership skills and close friendships.
Finances are a major factor in any school choice. The advantages that set a private school apart usually come at a price, so be careful not to fall in love with a fantastic school before knowing the cost of tuition. When thinking about your family’s budget, account for whether the private school you’re considering would be a sustainable option to send your child to through graduation, especially if you have multiple children who would attend.
However, don’t let sticker shock deter you. Many private schools offer generous financial aid or tuition assistance when necessary, so students of all economic backgrounds can attend. At some private schools, merit- or achievement-based scholarships may even be available.
Finding the perfect private school won’t mean much if it’s too far away for your child to realistically attend. Narrow your private school selection pool down geographically before beginning to visit any of the candidates. When you do start going on tours, pay attention during the drive and take note of factors like traffic and timing.
Many private schools offer bus services for their students. Look into whether the school you’re visiting provides bussing to your area, while keeping in mind that you don’t want your child to have to spend half the day commuting to and from school. Remember that buses won’t be as beneficial to your child if they choose to stay after school for a club or sport, in which case you will most likely need to make the daily drive to pick them up.
Contact West Shore Christian Academy or Harrisburg Christian School
Thankfully, whether you’re closer to Mechanicsburg or in Harrisburg, you can find a Christ-centered campus near you. At West Shore Christian Academy and Harrisburg Christian School, we believe in preparing students to impact the world for Christ by helping them sharpen their minds, deepen their faith and develop their gifts. The aim of all our academics, student life, athletics and arts programs is to encourage students to grow both personally and in their walk with the Lord.
If you’re searching for a community you can trust both academically and spiritually, contact West Shore Christian Academy or Harrisburg Christian School today. We’re more than happy to talk through any questions you may have or schedule a visit for you!