Finding the perfect school for your child can be a challenging task. The following are a few questions to ask when checking out private schools.

What does the school specialize in?

Every private school is different when it comes to focus, educational program, and basic pedagogy. Find out what are the driving factors behind the educational philosophy for each school you are considering. Some may be more focused on college prep, for example, while others may include religious instruction. There are also pedagogical methods to consider. For example, the Montessori and Waldorf philosophies are two very different but very popular educational models for elementary and middle-grade students.

Are there special education programs?

If your child would benefit from a special education program, whether via immersion or for specific subjects and skills, make sure that the school provides it. Not all private schools are equipped to handle special education services, unless the school itself is tailored to the specific education challenges that your child faces. Processing challenges, like dyslexia, as well as behavioral challenges, are often best managed by a strong special education program, so make sure any private school you consider can deliver it.

How many students are in a class, on average?

One of the common complaints with public schools is the overly large class sizes, which is something you can usually avoid with a private school. Still, it's a good idea to get verification that class sizes are small. Further, will the students change teachers every grade, or do they have a teacher that follows them to each new grade?

What extracurricular activities are available?

Public schools often have robust extracurricular offerings due to funding and availability across a large district. The offerings at a private school may be fewer, so make sure the school offers the ones that are most important to you or your child. If your child loves sports and your city doesn't have a strong municipal sports league, then the school you choose needs to provide sports. The same goes for academic and special-interest clubs and activities.

Are there community expectations?

Private schools often depend upon parental involvement. This may include volunteering in the classroom, chaperoning school events and field trips, or giving time to booster organizations that support the school or its activities. Make sure that you can fulfill your responsibilities as a parent and member of the school before enrolling your child.

Contact private schools to find the one that will work best for your child and family.