Every private school is unique. Even private schools that share a central philosophy of teaching, such as Montessori, can look quite different from one another. But, there are some elements to the private school environment that you will find are common to the majority of campuses. Learning about these elements will help you know what to expect as you explore and consider private school for your child.
Small class sizes
One of the common threads that runs through all of the different private schools is small class size. The small student to teacher ratio is a factor that attracts many parents to the idea of private education. One of the benefits of a small student to teacher ratio is that it provides students with the opportunity to interact with and get to know the teacher. When students have more access to the teacher because of a smaller class size it provides them with unique learning opportunities. Small class size allows the teacher to observe the individual learning style and needs of each student. Ultimately, the small classes in the private school environment make it possible for each child to get individual support and customized learning opportunities.
Opportunities for advanced learning
The private school environment provides students with opportunities for advanced learning. Learning in this environment does not have to be dictated by standards set by some outside entity. Instead, the private school can provide students with learning opportunities that meet their individual needs. Students can set the pace at which they advance through curriculum. There is no need for an advanced student in a private school setting to stop learning so that others can catch up. When a student reaches mastery of one level of content he or she can simply move on to the next level. The red tape that exists in the public school system is not an issue in the private school environment.
When you look closely at the private school classroom you will find a number of important differences when compared to the typical public school classroom. Each private school is different but in general you will find that the classroom environment is thoughtfully designed with the needs of the individual child in mind. For example, the Montessori classroom is designed to provide age appropriate activities for students to choose from each day. Everything in the classroom is put at the level of the child. Students can quickly and easily access the tools and materials they need to work on their topic/area of interest. There is space in the classroom for each child to be at an individual or small group work area. This allows each student to fully engage with the materials and focus on mastery in a given subject area. The large class size and standardized curriculum of the public school system makes this type of classroom design impractical and in many situations impossible.
The private school environment often looks very different than what you will find in the public school environment. In order to truly understand what the private school environment looks like you need to see it in person. Schedule a time to visit the campus and observe a class so you can see the differences in the environment and how those differences impact the students.