Public vs. private schools

Dear Patti,

My son is only 4, but we are considering our schooling choices, as we look at new homes. Basically, it seems to boil down to a choice of private or public.

Some folks I've talked with say that by starting in private school, young children develop better learning habits if, or when they move to public schools. The other side of the coin is that private schools mean that our son will probably not have his neighborhood friends attending the same school.

Other people I've spoken to say that public school is the best to start in because of having your nearby friends in the same school. Then, when they get to high school age, transfer to private school where the class sizes are smaller, discipline problems are generally less, and students generally get better prepared for college.

I also wonder about starting him in an immersion program (french or spanish).

What are your thoughts on these subjects??

In advance, thanks!!


Dear Keith,

For most people, the schooling choice is not between public or private, but between a better school or a lesser one. If you are fortunate enough to move into a neighborhood with a good public school, where your child can go with other kids in his area, then that is a very good choice. It will be wonderful for your son to have playmates he can visit in the afternoon or on weekends. And it is important to keep travelling time to a minimum if at all possible.

If you do not have a good public school in your area, then of course it is wise to look at private schools. For both kinds of schools, however, I would ask that you look at the warmth of the teachers, the way they speak to the children, the number of children in a class, the size of the classrooms, and the outdoor and indoor environments for gross motor play.

In my opinion, immersion schools are not as important as these factors, unless one of the child's parents speaks the language as a native. It's more important to get a good start in learning how to get along with others, follow a school routine, and begin learning the basics of our own language.

Best of luck,
Patti Greenberg Wollman

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