Switching From Public School to Private: When Is the Best Age?

Many middle class and upper middle class families feel that private school offers important advantages even though they may only be able to afford private education as a “surgical strike.” These parents may wonder when is the best age to send children to private school? Should this be in high school or grade school? Over several years, we have heard the question many times: when is the best age to switch from public school to private? The most helpful advice is that it is best to do this at a time when your child is changing schools anyway.

Depending on what state or province you live in, this can mean the period between grade school and junior high or between grade school and high school, to name two examples. Given that many families already see the advantage of this strategy, many choose high school as the period during which they will choose private school. This seems the most cost effective solution as this is a shorter period of than elementary school. Many parents also feel that this is the best time to transition away from public school as private schools ostensibly do a better job of preparing children for university or college than public schools. However, there are other considerations to bear in mind. Most parenting experts recognize that younger years are formative, providing children with future relationship-building skills, early confidence development, seminal social interactions and a wealth of skills that can be propagated in later years.

The Society for Quality Education also notes that students who develop strong reading skills early on are 95% certain to succeed in later studies. That does not mean that this is the right time for your child or any other child. The most important consideration in making any education choice is finding the right fit for your child. Investigate all your school choices deeply. For example, if the school you are considering has students who have been there from grade one through grade twelve, a transition into this school at any age may entail difficulty breaking into cliques.

No matter what school you are transitioning your child into, find out from teachers and students there how welcoming the particular class is, for new students. Base your decision as specifically as possible; many teachers will tell you that each class has a distinct personality with some being more accommodating than others. In some cases, you may not have as much choice as you assume. For instance there are many schools that have a waiting list. Make sure you understand the attendance policies of the school before you make any family decisions. These are just a few of the considerations that parents can make.

Parents need to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of when to switch from public school to private. Barbara Coloroso – perhaps today’s most highly regarded parenting and education expert – says, “There is no magic age in general. But there may be a magic age for your child. You need to look at your child’s gifts and their needs. Where are they now? What is their situation? “At any time, if your child is experiencing ongoing and unresolved problems, with issues like bullying for example, parents should consider another schooling option.

If your child’s needs are not being fulfilled you should look elsewhere.” The best time to switch schools varies widely from one child to another and from one family to another. Even with some of the guidelines above, it’s best for parents to not look for an easy answer but to listen to as much difference advice as they can.