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Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Private School

Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Private School

Monday, February 06, 2023

If you’re anything like us, you usually want to do some research before jumping straight into a large decision. With this in mind, one of the most significant decisions a parent can make is where to enroll their children in school. 

Every school is not the same, with differing values, class sizes, curriculum, etc. Thus, it is important to ask a lot of questions before dropping off your kid on the first day of class.

To help you with this, we’ve curated a list of questions that you should ask before choosing a private school for your student:

Seven Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Private School

1) What Are the School’s Beliefs/Philosophy?

When selecting a private school, it’s essential to find a school whose beliefs and values align with your own. After all, one of the chief reasons for selecting a private school is so that your student isn’t forced into learning the same beliefs and values as those taught within the public school system, so why wouldn’t you send them to somewhere where you are excited about what they are being taught? 

For that reason, certainly spend some time finding a school where you can be confident and supportive of what is being taught to your student. It’s amazing the amount of impact a Christian school is shown to have on your student’s future beliefs and values themselves.

A key point in finding this out is either by speaking to a representative of the school or by visiting the school’s website and reading their statement of beliefs (here’s ours, under “Beliefs”). 

This probably won’t be incredibly extensive, especially if the school is tied to a certain denomination, as those beliefs are addressed in much more detail by the denomination itself. 

However, it’s certainly a red flag if you are unable to locate any statement of beliefs. In the worst case, they have no central beliefs. In the best case, they do not consider these beliefs important enough to state them openly online. 

2) What Is the School’s Mission?

It’s not enough to just have a set of beliefs; those beliefs should drive us towards action (James 2:17). The private school you select should have a mission and a governing emphasis that they’re passionate about, guiding the way in which they lead their students. 

For instance, at St. John Lutheran, our mission is to follow Christ’s example, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, prepare children for a life of discipleship by helping them grow in faith, knowledge, and character. 

This mission governs every aspect of our curriculum, from the classes to individual interactions between students and teachers, even to school announcements. No matter the moment or situation, we recognize that our students are beloved children of God, and it is our duty to offer them the best education along with leading them each toward a deeper relationship with God. 

3) What Are the Class Sizes?

Either fortunately or unfortunately, every school is going to differ in the number of classes and the number of students in each class. This allows for significant differences in the experiences of those attending all of the various school systems. 

However, when it comes to class size, smaller ones seem to be better

There are many studies in which students report a higher amount of student participation, enjoyment, and learning when taught within a smaller class. This is likely due to teachers not having to manage as many students, being able to engage with individual students more frequently, and also allowing them to use more teaching activities that more fully engage the students’ minds and bodies. 

One of the ways we have always prided ourselves at St. John Lutheran is our commitment to small class sizes, where each individual student’s learning is prioritized. While some schools do engage large classes well, we have found that too often, there is a reliance solely on lecturing that does not engage students in all of the non-auditory methods. 

If you have any questions about our class sizes or teaching styles, we would love for you to contact us!

4) How Does the School Encourage Community?

One of the nice parts about being both a school and a church is that those working at St. John Lutheran School will never forget the value of community and relationships. The sad fact is that for many students in America, a school is just a place in which they are confined for many hours of the day until they are inevitably let loose in order to go spend time with their actual community.

A school that truly cares about its students should instead focus on building a community inside of the academic sphere. School should be a place where your student feels at home and is able to feel heard and connected. 

Private schools especially have the opportunity to build a strong community, usually having a smaller student body and more funding for community-building events outside of the classroom.

When selecting a private school, speak to the school about its efforts to encourage a community within the institution. The school should recognize that building a community involves individuals from every aspect of the student’s life. 

For instance, when discussing community-building with the school, it is a good idea to ask questions such as: 

  • What activities do you have that encourage community? 
  • What opportunities are there for parents to get involved? 
  • What types of programs are there in which my student can get involved in order to make friends and learn valuable life skills? 
  • What events do you host in which my students will be able to involve other members of their circles of influence, such as family, friends, and neighbors?

5) What Is the School’s Location?

Another obvious item to consider when it comes to selecting a school for your student is the actual location of the school. For some, a long commute is a wonderful opportunity for familial bonding, engaging discussion, and quiet contemplation. For most, however, a long commute quickly becomes an exhausting excursion into monotony. 

Before choosing a private school, keep in mind that this will be a commute that your student will experience several hundred times a year. Thirty minutes will quickly feel like an eternity when done ad tedium. 

Another aspect of location is the quality of the area that the school is located in. Some schools with quality education programs are unfortunately impacted by the negative atmosphere surrounding the school, such as those in dangerous neighborhoods, those stuffed into tiny corners of crowded cities, or those located out in the far reaches of nowhere. 

St. John Lutheran School is blessed to be located in the beautiful neighborhood of downtown Defiance, OH, just a few blocks from Riverside Park. Established in 1851, we have been a part of our community since the beginning. 

Defiance is charming and historic, with a relatively low cost of living. In fact, according to WalletHub, it’s one of the top 25 places to raise a family in Ohio! 

6) How Does the School Implement Technology?

The truth of it is that we live in a modern age where technology is becoming a more and more central aspect of the business world. For this reason, it is important for teachers and faculty to incorporate technology into the learning process, hopefully also in a way that does not minimize human interaction. 

Likewise, on the opposite side of the spectrum, the school should train students in important life skills such as time management and knowing when to turn the screen off. When looking for a private school to enroll your student, look for a place that excels at this dichotomy: knowing both the importance and dangers of technology.

7) How Does Your Student Feel?

Even though this is somewhat of a unique topic, one of the most important questions parents should ask when choosing a private school for their students is the feelings and opinions of the student. Of course, at the end of the day, the ultimate decision must be decided by the parents, regardless of student opinion. 

However, it can not be emphasized enough what a tremendous benefit it is when the student is just as excited about the school as the parents are. Even if you end up deciding to choose a different school than the one preferred by the student, it should hopefully have a positive effect that the student was at least included in the decision process. 

No matter where you end up deciding to enroll your student, at the end of the day, make sure that you are not making this decision alone. More important than asking your student for their opinion is asking God for His guidance and direction. Before making any type of big decision such as this, make sure to always first turn to the Lord in prayer! 

Choose St. John Lutheran School

If you would like to know anything more about St. John Lutheran, or if you want to hear our answers to questions such as those listed above, please do not hesitate to contact our office for more information! We would be happy to answer your questions.