Parents often worry about whether or not they are doing enough to ensure their child has the best education possible. Public schools are more than adequate for basic preparation and are carefully regimented by state governments to ensure students receive fundamental academic principles in order to prepare them for the transition into adulthood.
However, a private middle school is able to offer children a more highly specialized experience and greater academic freedom. A private middle school may be something to consider if you feel your child would not thrive in a public school.
The Importance of the Middle School Years
A lot of attention is paid to students who will be entering preschool or high school due to the importance of early education and college preparation respectively. This almost seems to indicate the years of middle school education are less important, but this is simply not true.
According to experts, middle school may be the most important years of a child’s education. It is where their curiosity has peaked and it is a time of enormous emotional, social, and metacognitive growth. It is imperative that at this time students are exposed to those subjects that increase their thirst for knowledge. Unfortunately, this tends to be where many students decide they are not good at school, absenteeism increases, and behavior problems begin.
Key Components in Middle School Education
The first key focus of a student’s middle school years must be academics. They need practical and engaging subject matter and teachers if they are going to become active participants in their education. This means classes that go beyond teaching the basics and make an effort to reach students where their interests are. Science classes that explore genetics, robotics, and astronomy and history classes that bring the past to life are essential.
The second component is something that many public schools simply don’t have the funding to adequately provide, a diverse collection of electives. Students need an outlet for their interests that go beyond the core classes of English, math, science, and history. Studies have shown greater academic success in students who are immersed in music and the arts.
What to Ask Potential Middle Schools
One of the first questions to ask of potential middle schools is about their class size. The smaller the number of students, the more direct attention they receive from each instructor. According to recent studies, private schools have a lower student to teacher ratio. Private school classes average 12.5 students per teacher while public schools average 15.4 students per teacher, but many public schools have class sizes that are much larger.
Another important question to consider is the average test scores of students at the school. Most states have standardized tests that are required for all students and private school students typically score higher on these. For example, the average national SAT scores for students in private schools are regularly higher in all categories than those of public school students.
While it is certainly possible to find all of these attributes in a public school, it isn’t always easy. This is especially true for students who are gifted or who have a strong interest in a particular field of study. Private middle schools should be explored as a way to facilitate maximum student engagement with their own academic career.