You’ve made the decision to begin searching for a private school for your child. With 25 percent of all the elementary and secondary schools in the nation listed as private or independent, where do you begin? A good place to start is understanding the different types of private schools.
Independent vs Private Schools
Although “private school” and “independent school” are often used interchangeably the two are different. Usually a private school is part of a larger organization such as a church or religious community. In contrast an independent school is just that, independent of other organizations with its own board of governors or trustees. What they have in common, is that both are funded with tuition, fees and donations.
Private School Grade Levels
Most private schools are divided by grade levels. Students in kindergarten through grade five attend an elementary school, while those in grades six through eight go to a middle school. Junior high is a variation of that idea since is serves students in grades seven through nine. Private high schools are for students in grades nine through 12 or freshmen through seniors. College Prep are just that: schools with a heavy emphasis on academics which prepare a student to go to college.
Day Schools/Country Day Schools
Day or Country Day schools are private schools which students attend during the day and then go home at night. Usually Country Day Schools are located in the country or suburbs.
When many people think of a private school, they think of boarding schools. Although only one type of private school, boarding schools where students live in dorms or halls on campus, are the stereotypical independent school portrayed in movies or books. A residential school, where students live on campus Monday through Friday or all week long, these institutions offer students a highly structured day with set times for classes meals, athletics, study and recreation. Most American boarding schools are for students in high school. The con of going to a boarding school is being away from home and having the faculty and advisers making some daily decisions usually left to parents. Being away from home is also an argument for boarding school since it allows students to exert their independence and build confidence. Some parents also like the daily supervision their child will receive.
Special Needs Schools
Special needs private schools serve a wide range of students. Some are geared for those with learning or physical disabilities, while others focus on those with emotional needs. Still others offer students who are extremely bright an atmosphere where they can blossom or those who want to focus on one talent – a place where they can hone their ability. Searches for these types of institutions are very specific and should be done with the needs of your child in mind.