Highlands Blog

6 Questions to Ask a Private School

Choosing a school for your child is a journey. You’ve done your research, requested information, and hopefully narrowed your list down to a few great options. Nothing can take the place of a campus visit, so if you haven’t scheduled tours yet, do so as soon as possible. Exploring the facilities, seeing teachers and students in action, and talking with staff will give you a true sense of the learning environment that is right for your child. The school tour is also a prime time to have your lingering questions answered. We suggest writing them down and bringing a list to ensure your family’s greatest concerns are addressed. Consider adding these important questions to the ones already on your mind:

What curriculum do you use?
Unlike public schools, private schools have the ability to hand-pick their curriculum. They may use different ones for each subject or stick to a common provider. Ask the school how rigorous their curriculum is, and if it meets or exceeds state guidelines. You may also be able to preview curriculum details by subject area, giving you an inside look at what your student will be learning grade-by-grade.

What is your philosophy of education?
Every school has a philosophy of education. This affects how teachers do their jobs and what students learn each day. By its simplest definition, it is the school’s purpose of education. You may be looking for a school that focuses on character development as well as academic success. Perhaps a certain religious affiliation is important to you. This is all a part of the philosophy of education, and should be addressed to ensure the school’s teachings align with your family values.

How is technology used here?
It is more important than ever for students to be trained as 21st century learners. Technology application is a big part of this training. Ask the school how computers, tablets, and other innovative tools are used in the classroom. You may also want to ask if the student will be responsible for these items outside of school and what fees are involved for technology use. Further, look into the measures in place to ensure digital safety.

What’s included in tuition?
You have already made the commitment to send your child to a private school and understand that it will be a significant investment for your family. When comparing tuition costs, be sure you have a full picture of what’s included. Some schools include books, technology, and even transportation in that number, while others separate these fees out based on student needs. Ask about assistance programs, payment plans, and any discounts that might be available for multi-child families.

What safety measures are in place?
This is a critical question that some families feel too timid to ask. A lot goes into keeping a school safe and secure. Ask what background checks are run on new faculty and staff. Discuss plans for emergency situations. How are school visitors authorized and identified? Do classroom doors lock securely? You may get a sense of how safe a school is just by walking through campus, but these questions can provide extra peace of mind.

How are students prepared for college/the future?
Even if you’ve decided that a K-8 school is the best fit for your family, future planning should be at the forefront of education. Ask the school about college preparation initiatives and offerings that ensure students are prepared to thrive in today’s world. Some schools may offer classes like foreign language, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), as well as leadership opportunities that make students especially competitive.

Tour Highlands School Today
If you are touring private schools in the Birmingham area, add Highlands to your list! Serving students from 4K - 8th grade, we focus on whole-child development in a caring and stimulating environment. Contact us today to schedule your visit! We can’t wait to answer your questions.
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Highlands School, 4901 Old Leeds Road, Birmingham, AL 35213, (205) 956-9731
Highlands School's 'whole child' approach to education and commitment to academic excellence, creative expression, and leadership development prepare and motivate students in grades 4k through 8 to make a positive difference in an ever-changing world. Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Highlands School holds dual accrediation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Southern Associations of Independent Schools (SAIS).

For more information, visit www.highlandsschool.org.