If you are thinking of sending your child to a private school rather than a public one, the first step you will need to take is to visit some private schools and see what each has to offer. Generally, these visits consist of a tour of a school and an information session. During that session, the school administrator will ask some questions about you and your child -- but you are also expected to ask some questions of them. Here are some questions to ask in order to get a better understanding of what the school stands for and how well suited it is for your child.
What is the school's philosophy?
There are many different approaches to learning and teaching. Some schools take more of a traditional approach, incorporating a lot of lectures and tests into their routines. Others, like Montessori schools for instance, take more of a student-led approach to learning. Make sure the school's philosophy is compatible with your own and with your child's learning style.
How involved are parents?
Private schools tend to request more parent involvement than public schools. In some cases, each parent may be expected to sign up for a certain role, such as snack provider, field trip supervisor, or party planner. Make sure you are comfortable with the level of involvement the school requests. If you have a very independent child who may not want you around at their school all the time, you may want to choose a school that asks less of parents.
What extracurricular activities are offered?
School is not just about rote learning. It's also about teaching kids social skills, and extracurricular activities can be a big part of that. Does the school have a drama club or sports teams? Are the activities ones that your child would like to participate in?
How are students graded?
You may be surprised to learn this as an adult who has not been in school for a while, but not all schools use standard, letter, and number-grade systems anymore. Especially in elementary schools, some educators are of the opinion that pass/fail grading is more beneficial for the child's ego and helps foster collaboration more than competition. Ask the school for an explanation of their grading scheme and also why they have chosen the scheme. You may discover that the way they grade would actually benefit your child, even if it seems a little non-traditional.