Kindergarten is a big step for both children and their parents. Many parents wonder how to choose the best kindergarten for their child as well as for the family. When choosing a kindergarten for your child, there are a vast array of types from which you can select—from your local public school to one of many different styles of private schools. It can boggle a parent’s mind. But what are the differences between public and private kindergartens?
The Benefits Of Public Kindergarten
The credentials of the teachers are important. Teachers in public kindergarten often have more qualifications. According to a major study from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), public school teachers tend to be more qualified than their independent school counterparts in terms of education and experience. For example, they’re more likely to have a Master’s degree, and to have logged in more service and/or study.
While most private schools have excellent teachers, some do not have the same degree of requirements for teaching kindergarten as most public schools have.
The student population tends to be more diverse. While it is not always the case, a private education is usually out of reach for poorer students, which means that it’s less likely to introduce your child to children of various races and socioeconomic backgrounds. If you want your child to know children with a variety of cultural backgrounds, then a public school might be your best bet.
Public school is free. With private kindergarten costs starting at $3,000 per year, many parents cannot afford private kindergartens.
Fellow students are in the neighborhood. While it’s not always the case, chances are that the friends your child will make in kindergarten will live in the same neighborhood and within walking distance.
The Benefits Of Private Kindergarten
Smaller classes. Many experts feel that children are less likely to get lost in the shuffle if they attend a smaller kindergarten. According to the National Center for Education Statistics study, private school classes tend to be half as large as public schools. Many experts feel that children are less likely to get lost in the shuffle if they attend a smaller school, which naturally nurtures a sense of community and belonging. Smaller classes nurture a sense of belonging and community. Smaller class sizes also allow children to receive more individualized attention.
School climate. School climate can significantly affect the quality of the educational experience of students, according to NCES (1995). Although crime occurs in and around both public and private schools. However, the NCES reports, “Exposure to crime or threats is far more common in public schools.”
Opportunity to stay where your child attended pre-school. Many pre-schools also offer a kindergarten program. By staying in the same school for kindergarten as the child attended for preschool, the stress of starting school may be reduced in some children. Of course, your child might have gotten into the public pre-K program, in which case this would be a moot point.
Parent involvement is strong. Private schools encourage, and sometimes require, parents’ participation. Parents of private school students are extremely committed to parent-teacher-child relationships. Maybe that’s based to a degree on their financial investment.
Of course, the needs and personality of your child must be considered when making the kindergarten decision. Visit your local public school and several private kindergartens. Talk with the teachers as well as several parents whose children have “graduated” from the program.
In the end, parents must weigh all the factors involved and pick the school that they feel will give their child the best beginning of their educational journey.