Public school or private school: which one to choose?

Parenting

Each option offers its own distinct benefits for kids and their parents

It’s a debate as old as chocolate vs. vanilla, dogs vs. cats, or Star Wars vs. Star Trek: as a parent, should you send your child to a public school or a private school? Which is the smarter choice? Where will your child thrive?

And, other than flipping a coin, is there a quick and easy way to make that decision?

In short, no, there isn’t. Every child is unique, and every parent has different wants, needs and goals for their kids. Here’s a look at some of the biggest benefits to each option.

Five great things about public schools

  • They’re accessible. Public schools are free. There’s no cost-prohibitive tuition, and no need for admission applications, tests or interviews. Every child is able to attend.
  • They’re local. Chances are, your child’s public school will be in your neighbourhood and already familiar to your family. Commutes, if any, are short or facilitated by a school-bus system, and your child’s classmates will live nearby, allowing them to strengthen friendships outside the classroom.
  • They’re diverse. Public schools frequently foster a multicultural environment, providing your children with exposure to classmates of different ethnicities, religions, income levels and more to give them a well-rounded view of society.
  • They support special needs. If your child has physical, intellectual, behavioral or mobility challenges, or any other learning exceptionality, public schools provide support, from teachers’ aides and tutoring to special-education classes and programs.
  • Their teachers are certified. Unlike teachers at private schools, anyone teaching at a public school must be certified by the province, and most school boards in Canada also require that teachers possess a Bachelor of Education degree. This ensures public-school teachers have received the proper training and are licensed to teach.

Five great things about private schools

  • They have small class sizes. Most private schools cap class sizes at 20 students or fewer per class. Lower student-to-teacher ratios have been shown to enhance learning, strengthen the teacher/student connection, and boost student engagement.
  • They produce high achievers. Private schools pride themselves on providing a rigorous curriculum and high-quality education, and private-school students typically score high on standardized tests.
  • They’re well-funded. Thanks to tuition fees, private schools often have ample finances at their disposal, allowing them to offer exceptional facilities and extensive resources (e.g., the newest technology, top-notch athletic equipment, etc.).
  • They share your priorities. Some private schools are highly specialized, which means parents can choose one that will deliver an education tailored to the family’s core religious, philosophical or social beliefs and values.
  • They’re secure. Smaller student populations, private grounds, risk-management policies and procedures, and stringent disciplinary guidelines are among the factors that help private schools provide a safe environment for students and teachers alike.

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