Motherhood comes with a host of choices about what is best for you, your family, and your children. We at Boston Moms Blog are a diverse group of moms who want to embrace these choices instead of feel guilty or judged for them! Our “Parenting Perspectives” series is currently focused on the heated topic of education. Our contributors will share their experiences of choosing an education path for their children.

I write this article not from the perspective of a parent, but of a teacher. After teaching in both public and private schools, I am a firm believer in private education. In fact, leaving the public school system to teach in private schools has made me a happier, more energized, and more creative teacher. Though my daughter is only 3 years old, my husband and I plan to find an area private school that will best match her needs. Here are a few of the reasons I support private education.

books-boston moms blog parenting perspectives: in support of private education

1. Smaller class sizes

Having 12 students in a class is an absolute dream situation. I can give so much more attention to my students with smaller classes; they cannot hide in the back of the classroom! Unlike in public schools, where I had classrooms of 25 students or more, in smaller classes my students cannot get left behind. Having fewer students means I have more time to work with them one on one, and I can build stronger relationships across the board. They have no choice BUT to be active members of the classroom, and this often helps students feel more invested and engaged. It can also lead them to develop passions for subjects they never thought they would be interested in.

2. More autonomy = happier teacher and better student experience

In public schools, teachers typically have to follow a set curriculum. While there are benefits to this kind of collaboration, it severely limits what a teacher can do. As educators and learners, we all have certain areas in our discipline that we are passionate about, and when we get to teach to our passions our excitement rubs off on our students. Since I’m not beholden to standardized tests or arbitrary legislation (see #4), I’m able to spend more time on topics I know well. If you visited my American history classroom, you would have noticed it was taught in very different ways and with different focuses than my peers, but we still covered the same material. The result? ALL of our students get a more authentic teaching experience, because we are encouraged to teach to our strengths and not an expected norm. When teachers are given autonomy, students benefit.

3. More time to work on basic skills

See #1. Because I have fewer students, I have the luxury of reading their writing and research more thoroughly, I can offer them meaningful feedback, and I can give them the opportunity to revise their work so they can learn from their mistakes. In private schools the Scantron test simply doesn’t exist, and I have the opportunity to use a multitude of methods to assess learning that I simply wouldn’t have the time or energy for in a public school. When I taught in the public schools, content (normally assessed in the form of multiple-choice tests) drove the skills curriculum, and there simply wasn’t enough time for students to revise their work. In a private school that isn’t the case, and I find that the assessments I am able to give students is far more useful and meaningful for later in life.

4. There is no correlation between standardized testing and improvements in learning

Love it or hate it, Common Core doesn’t exist in a private school. Testing doesn’t overrun the curriculum or take up unnecessary class time. Kindergarteners aren’t forced to sit at desks, and study after study has shown that kindergarten literacy does not make children more successful students later in life. In fact, a play-based education is better for young students, and because of unfair state testing standards, limited resources, and stressors placed on teachers, essential play time (such as recess) often gets cut. You can find articles herehere, and here about the stresses standardized testing unfairly places on students and teachers. To thrive, students need spaces to play, create, and take risks, all of which can be hindered in the current climate of public schools.

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5. Not a “one size fits all” deal

While there are many services in place to assist students in public schools, especially if they qualify for special education, private schools tend to have their own ethos and mission statements, which means they’re more tailored to fit the needs of certain students. It can be easy to find a private school where your child will thrive. Amazing athlete? Gifted musician? Introvert? Renaissance man or woman? Middle-of-the-road kid who can easily get lost in the crowd? There’s a private school to fit your child. In a large public school it can be easy for an adolescent to get swept under the rug, and the smaller environment of a private school can greatly benefit many children.

6. Smaller administration

Because the size of the administration tends to be much smaller in a private school, there are typically fewer hoops for a teacher to jump through. The great benefits of this? The administration tends to place a greater amount of trust in its teaching staff. Student acting up in class? The teacher handles it and only asks the administration to intervene if necessary. For me this is essential, because the teacher is seen as the figure of authority instead of a principal or dean. It also means less bureaucracy and a stronger working relationship between teachers and administration.

7. More time to get to know parents

In a public school I only interacted with a handful of parents, and normally it wasn’t on happy occasions. Being in the private schools, however, I have had a lot of time to get to know the parents of my students. These relationships have been invaluable; it has been personally enriching to get to know parents, and if a situation ever arises, the parents and I already have a strong foundation to work through problems — or celebrate major victories together.

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Obviously, public schools have an advantage because of the cost factor, and if a child has learning disabilities or other special needs that require intervention I would steer a parent toward a public school, mainly because their children will get the services they truly need. I have many wonderful friends who are amazing and talented public school teachers. But as we compare our work days, I often find that I am calmer, happier, and more energized than my peers. I give my public-school-teaching friends a lot of credit; they are often up against impossible standards and enormous pressures. I’ve been extremely blessed to have taught in private schools for the past six years, and this time has helped me become a better teacher for my students.

Parenting Perspectives: Why I Believe in Public Schools