​FAQs for Parents Considering Private School Education

By Nora Heston Tarte

When it comes to a child’s education, few subjects are more heavily debated. Weighing the benefits of a private versus a public institution, as well as the associated costs, can be overwhelming to say the least. Take into consideration, no school (public or private) is the same, and it’s nearly impossible to make a quick decision.

Consider all options and consider budget, the individual student and family dynamic. There will be pros and cons to every decision; explore your possibilities. Some private schools may have what your child needs, while others may not. As you start your research, we’ve rounded-up a few FAQs for parents considering private school education—but, be sure to visit Sacramento Parent’s Annual Private School Guide to quickly access your local options.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE APPLICATION PROCESS BEFORE I GET STARTED?
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to educational institutions—or at least not many. Private schools tend to be more varied than public schools. For this reason, parents should always visit a campus with their child before enrolling. Call the office, discuss pricing and if it’s a fit, visit.

Then, the application process starts. Testing may be required for private schools and children and parents may be asked to attend an interview. Essays are sometimes required of older students. This is different from public schools, which must take all students who live in the district.

DOES PRIVATE SCHOOL MEAN MORE HOMEWORK?
The amount of time spent on homework will fluctuate not only based on school, but also depending on classes, teachers and the child’s work pace.

At Carden School of Sacramento, the rule of thumb is children will typically not be assigned more than 15-minutes of homework per grade level each night. For example, a fourth grader may have an hour or less of homework across all subjects, while eighth graders may receive up to two hours nightly. “We follow the same standards that most public schools do,” says Norm Cone, director of Carden School.

“In the younger grades, it’s important that we still maintain a joy of learning and ensure kids get enough sleep,” adds Nick Broad, director of admissions at Sacramento Waldorf School. For that reason, students start with 15-minutes of homework per night and steadily build up to two hours per night at the high school level. “You don’t want to stress students out with too much homework, because it leaves diminishing returns.”

WHAT EXTRACURRICULAR WILL BE AVAILABLE TO MY CHILD THAT PUBLIC SCHOOL DOESN’T OFFER?
Extracurricular activities vary from school to school and many are the same at both private and public schools. Carden offers both sports and music classes after school and during the day enrichment classes, including foreign language, music, daily physical education and computer lab, are available. While at St. Philomene Parish School, baton, student government, scouting, yearbook and academic decathlon are offered.
When comparing, it’s important to look at every school individually instead of clumping all private schools versus all public schools.

DO PRIVATE SCHOOLS FOLLOW COMMON CORE STANDARDS?
All public schools in California must adhere to the California Department of Education’s Common Core State Standards. These standards dictate what all students (K-12), will be taught in the classroom.

Private schools, however, have the freedom to choose. “We have a phonics-based fundamental curriculum,” Cone says of Carden School. “Most of the parents, at this Carden School, do not want their children doing common core.” At St. Philomene, however, the school is transitioning to common core standards with integrated religious teachings. While Sacramento Waldorf School’s curriculum follows the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner.

WILL PRIVATE SCHOOL OFFER MY CHILD LOWER STUDENT-TEACHER RATIOS?
In 2015, Sacramento City Unified School District schools changed from a 28-32:1 student-to-teacher ratio, to a 24:1 ratio to offer more individualized student attention.

These ratios differ among private schools. Carden School reports a 6 to 12:1 student-teacher ratio for K-8 grades, St. Philomene, a 16:1 ratio and Brookfield School, an 18:1 ratio. (All are private K-8 schools.)

WILL PRIVATE SCHOOL HINDER MY CHILD’S SOCIAL LIFE?
While there are less children at a private school, there are still opportunities to make lifelong friends. Many private school
students will add to their social circles outside of school, through sports, scouts, church, etc. School social functions such as dances vary by institution.

Nora Heston Tarte is a freelance writer and Sacramento State alum. When she isn’t chasing her two-year-old son around, she’s musing about motherhood on her blog, www.slightlykrunchymama.blogspot.com.

More Articles

Hit the Reset Button on Your Kids’ Nutrition

…with Healthier On-the-go Meals and Snacks By Esther Blum, Integrative Dietitian and Lifestyle Coach After a summer of fun, sun and treats it may be time for a nutrition reset as summer winds down and you prepare for the new school year. As an integrative dietitian, I hear people’s battle cries for help, especially when…

Smart Start: Tips from Teachers to Kick Off the School Year Right

By Christa Melnyk Hines School bells will soon ring once again. Whether that comes as music to your ears or a bittersweet reminder that the free-spirited summer days are over, check out these tips from the pros to help you and your child enjoy a smart, happy start to school. Push the reset button. A…

Back to School Traditions to Start this Year

By Pam Molnar The years seem to pick up speed as your child gets older. One minute they are getting on the bus for Kindergarten and in the blink of an eye, they are walking across the stage at their high school graduation. Don’t let those years go by in a blur. Capture the first…

Nurturing Nature in Kids

By Linda Chaiko-Lepley If you’re spending time outdoors with your children and instilling in them a love of nature, give yourself a pat on the back! But, if you’re reading this article and feel a tinge of guilt that your child might be spending more time in front of a screen, and less time out…

Beat the Summer Heat with These Cool Ideas!

Check out our “Cooler Than a Popsicle” Pinterest board for some excellent activities for the kids during this hot summer heat wave!

An Age-by-Age Guide: How to Teach Money-Saving Tips

By: H. Davis If you’re like most parents, you want to raise responsible children, especially when it comes to finances. But raising financially responsible children involves lots of teaching and tons of education lessons right from the start. Aside from giving them an understanding about the value of money, teaching children about finances helps them…

Vaping 101

By Christa Melnyk Hines Just as cigarette smoking drops to its lowest level in years, e-cigarette use, a.k.a. “vaping,” is exploding among middle and high school students. Teens may blow off the trend as harmless, but experts think otherwise. “It’s important to understand that this is a drug delivery system. In some ways, calling it…

What is Parent-Child Interactive Therapy?

The need-to-know for parents of kids with behavioral challenges. By Michelle Kopkash Frequent tantrums. Non-stop whining. Shows of aggression. Constant complaining. Acts of defiance. Deliberate attempts to annoy others for attention. If any of these negative behaviors sound painfully familiar to you as a parent, there’s good news. With the right parenting tools and skills,…

Sacramento [is] International

Encourage Kids to Learn a Second Language By Stephen Muff Americans are notorious for not learning another language. Roughly three-quarters of Americans have no foreign language. Yet, a nation to the North speaks French, a nation to the south speaks Spanish, and we can see Russia approximately 55 miles from Alaska. The benefits of learning…

Subscribe to the Parent Newsletter

Our latest articles, resources and tips—direct to your inbox.

Follow Sacramento Parent