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Should You Send Your Child to Public or Private School? Thumbnail

Should You Send Your Child to Public or Private School?


If you have young children or even if you’re just thinking about having kids, you likely wonder if you should send them to public or private school.

It’s a common debate. Some parents sit staunchly in the ‘only public school is right’ camp, and others believe private school is the only way to get a good education. The truth is both options can provide a good education. It depends on where you live and what schools you choose that determine how it goes.

Here’s what you should think about before deciding if you should send your child to public or private school.

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Factors to Consider When Choosing Public or Private School

No two children will have the same needs, just as no two schools are the same. So before you decide if public or private school is right for your child, consider these factors.

What Does Your Child Need?

Assess your child’s needs. For example, does your child have any diagnoses or special learning disabilities that would require special attention and/or support during the school day?

If so, be careful if you go the private school route. Private schools don’t have the same resources or funding public schools have, which could mean fewer opportunities to support your child in the way they learn best.

Talk to the school administration and support team to determine if they can help your child or if you may need to look elsewhere.

Can You Commute Your Child to and From School?

Public schools typically offer free transportation to and from school. They may even provide after-school transportation for after-school activities. Private schools, on the other hand, often don’t provide transportation.

This means you’d be responsible for commuting your child back and forth to school. This can become costly, not to mention time-consuming, especially if you then commute to work. In addition, if you have to pay a babysitter to drive and pick up your child, it could add to the cost of the private school education.

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What Is the Cost?

Public schools aren’t ‘free.’ You pay for them in your taxes, plus most schools charge various fees, including registration fees, technology fees, and other activity or academic fees. Each school has their own list of fees they charge, but private school is almost always much higher than public school.

Private schools don’t get federal funding, and your real estate taxes don’t support private schools either. You could pay what feels like a mortgage payment each month to a private school, especially if you have multiple children.

What Is the School’s Mission and Beliefs?

You may just think of a school as a place to teach your child, but what are they teaching? Each school has a mission and beliefs that they use to create their curriculum and environment. Make sure it’s something you agree with and want your child to learn if you decide to go the private school route.

While you don’t have a choice in what public school you send your child to (in most cases), it’s important to find out the school’s mission and beliefs to make sure it’s something you want to subject your child to since they will spend a majority of their day there nine months out of the year.

What Curriculum Does the School Teach?

You may not know the names of the different curriculum options schools offer, but doing a little research can be beneficial. For example, if you decide to send your child to private school during the elementary years, but then transition to public school for high school, make sure the curriculum taught at the private school will seamlessly transfer to the public school and your child won’t feel left behind.

What Is the Environment, and Is It Good for Your Child?

School is as much social as it is academic. Before sending your child to any school - public or private, check out the environment. Are there children like your child attending the school? Does the school feel inviting and welcoming for all children? Does the school have sufficient opportunities for your child to grow?

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What Level of Involvement Can Parents Have (Or Is Required)?

If you want to be involved in your child’s school, find out what they allow. Public schools usually welcome parental involvement, but each school differs. On the other hand, private schools may require a certain number of hours of parental support or may increase your fees to make up for it. 

Advantages of Public School

Public school has its advantages, including:

  • It costs much less
  • Public schools are mandated at the federal and state level
  • Public schools may have more support options for children with special needs
  • The student body is typically more diverse 
  • Teachers often offer specialized classes (gifted or otherwise) to support children where they need it

Disadvantages of Public School

Public schools have some downsides that you should consider, including:

  • Not all public schools have adequate funding
  • You may be forced into one school even if another school in the district seems like a better fit
  • Class sizes can be large

Advantages of Private School

Private schools have advantages, including:

  • Gifted students often feel more challenged at private schools with their more rigorous educational standards
  • Most private schools have fewer behavior issues since parents choose to send their children there
  • Private schools aren’t mandated, so they can use any curriculum or support they feel is necessary
  • Private school teachers hold students to a high degree of excellence
  • Parents are often more involved in private schools

Disadvantages of Private School

Private schools have disadvantages, including:

  • Private schools can get rather expensive
  • If your child has special needs, they may not find the necessary support at a private school
  • Most private schools are not diverse

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Is the Cost of Private School Worth It?

No two families will have the same answer to the question ‘Is private school's cost worth it?’ 

Can it be worth it?


Is it always worth it?


It depends on the type of student your child is and what they need. Some students flourish in the private school setting and take their education above and beyond what a public school offers. If your child has their sights set high after high school, private school may get them noticed by more colleges and/or companies.

If your child doesn’t like school, has a hard time learning, or will just ‘skate by, ‘then private school probably isn’t worth the money, and it may even do your child a disservice.

To decide if it’s worth it, evaluate your child. What do they need that will help them succeed? Also, look at yourself and what you want for your family. Do you want the exclusive feeling of a private school, or would you rather be a part of your community and the public school system?

Final Thoughts

Deciding if public or private school is better for your child means more than looking after finances, although that’s a big part. If money weren’t an issue, think of what you’d want for your child’s education and/or what your child can handle.

Some kids weren’t meant for private school because they needed the support and services offered at public schools. Other kids thrive in the smaller settings and more rigorous educational standards private schools provide and will do best in that setting.

The good news is that no matter which decision you make, you can always reverse it if you decide the path you chose isn’t working for your child. Like anything else in life, it’s a work in progress.