I’m a mom to three kids, and I know how challenging it is to make crucial decisions like where your children will go to school. My kids have been both to private school and public school. Since I’m probably one of the few people that write about finance that will say private school can be money well spent, I wanted to do a compare/contrast of the options and our experience with them.
****Now, please keep in mind that this list is based on our family’s personal experience with private and public school.
We’re going to start with private school. Our kids went to a Catholic school that was fantastic – seriously, it was money well spent. The only downside for us was really that the drive was pretty intense (if you’ve ever been to metro Atlant you know what I’m talking about).
- Religious education (if the private school is a religious one).
- The learning environment is more geared towards actual learning and not passing standardized testing.
- Uniform dress code makes deciding what to wear to school a breeze in the mornings.
- Smaller classroom sizes allow the teacher(s) to work more one-on-one with students.
- Teachers have more sway with the curriculums.
- Smaller school – my son with ADHD really enjoyed this aspect of his Catholic School.
- Bullying is more easily caught and dealt with as the class and school size is smaller.
- Community feel.
- There’s a huge emphasis on handwriting which I believe really helped my oldest learn to read easier. This could just be something that is done in Catholic schools as I know it is a part of their specific curriculum.
- Project and service-based learning. Everything was very hands-on – of course, there are worksheets too, but everything is geared towards a more practical application of the concepts.
- It costs money (you can usually claim it on your taxes), but it can be expensive.
- Uniforms can be expensive. (My kids’ school had a used uniform sale several times a year which was helpful in keeping the costs down. You could even trade in your child’s used uniform for the next size up at the used uniform sale free of charge.)
- If you have a child with learning disabilities or other special needs, their specific needs may not be able to be met at a private school.
- Having to drive your kiddos to and from school every day (this can be taxing if you have other small children that don’t go to school yet).
Okay, so let’s chat about public schools. I do feel that I need to mention that our public school district is a highly rated one so obviously my opinion may be biased.
- There’s no tuition cost (I can’t say free because if you pay property taxes, you’re paying for public school).
- They can ride the bus! Seriously, I love that I don’t have to take them to school and sit in carpool.
- You don’t have to pay for uniforms.
- There are free programs for children with special needs.
- There’s no uniform – I actually really loved my kids having to wear a uniform to school.
- The class sizes are much larger.
- The curriculum is not tailored and the teachers have very little control over what they teach.
- The emphasis on standardized testing is insane!
- The use of technology is mind-boggling. For me, I prefer my kids to stay off electronics for as long as possible. My kids don’t even know how to use my phone because my husband and I want our kids to have as much of a 1980’s childhood as possible. I know, we’re weird.
Okay, so there you have it – the pros and cons of public vs. private school. But here’s the thing, I don’t believe there is a right or wrong schooling choice for your children. I believe there is only the right choice for you. You have to make that choice and hopefully, this comparison will help you make it.
Should I pay for a private school?
I’m of the belief that if you can afford it without going into debt, then do it! Honestly, we LOVED private school. We only stopped because the commute was killing me. But I can honestly say to you that I do not regret paying for it – not even for a second. That’s why I honestly believe that if it is important to you and you can afford to pay for it in cash, then do not feel guilty for paying for private school for your kids.
I know I’m alone in this opinion in the personal finance realm, but I truly believe that it’s your money and you have to make it work for you. Do I believe that you absolutely must pay for your kids to go to private school or else they’re going to turn out into awful kids if they go to public school? No. My kids currently go to public school and it’s not horrible.
I believe that your home life actually dedicates more of how your children will turn out than what school they go to. So in my opinion, give them the absolute best life at home and train them up to be amazing adults and no matter what school they go to, they will grow up to be incredible adults.
Do you have any advice for a parent looking to decide between public and private?
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