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Public or Private School? 3 Things to Consider When Raising a Child With Special Needs

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When you have a child with special needs, you may struggle to determine the best setting for their education. Perhaps you have a gifted and talented child who struggles to stay attentive in a traditional classroom with their set schedules and blanket teaching styles. Maybe your child has learning disabilities and requires extra attention that simply cannot be found in a public school setting.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as of 2014, 13% of all public school students received special education services. On an average, over 6 million students a year need special help in order to further their educational development. With plenty of kids needing specific attention to their educational needs, why do some school systems lack so severely in this area? If you’re questioning whether to choose public school or private school for your child with special needs, there are three factors you should carefully consider.

1. What Do Your Local Schools Offer?

Some public schools offer wonderful programs that are geared specifically toward children with special needs. Their special needs children thrive through inclusion in regular classrooms, incorporation of special classes into their regular days, and special support when they need it most.

Private schools may be able to offer more specialized and individualized education for each child the school cares for, but they don’t necessarily have the available budget, services, and experience to handle your child’s unique disability. Do the educators come equipped with masters in special education, readily prepped to handle anything your child throws their way? Take the time to discuss the school’s offerings before making a decision for your child.

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2. What Do Student Populations Look Like?

At many private schools, you’ll find a relatively low percentage of special needs students. At others, especially those with programs dedicated to a specific disability, you’ll find high populations of students with specific educational needs. You want your child to have every social and academic advantage possible, and that includes surrounding them with similarly-able peers they can interact with on a regular basis.

Too large a percentage of special needs students, however, may mean that each individual student doesn’t receive enough attention. Pay careful attention to the existing student populations when choosing between public and private school for your child.

3. What’s Your Budget?

As much as you’d like to pretend that money isn’t an object, it matters! Private school can be very expensive. You shouldn’t have to break your budget in order to provide your student with a quality education. If your budget allows for private school without needing to stretch too far, it’s a much more viable option than it would be for a family that struggles to provide those opportunities for their student.

On the other hand, if affording a private school will be a financial struggle, carefully consider whether or not those sacrifices will really be worth it–and whether or not a private school education actually provides the ideal experience for your child. Consider the benefits that come from spending more money on tuition each year. With specialized extra classes and hands-on assistance from trained staff, the positives may far out weigh the financial costs. Choose a plan that is best suited for your family and stick to it. Changing up a child’s system in the middle of their schooling years can prove to be even more difficult.

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Choosing the right school environment for a child is never easy. It’s even harder when your child has a unique set of needs that set them apart from their classmates and slows down their educational progression. Take the time to review your options. Consider out of state schools, if it is financially possible. Your child’s learning development will set the standard for their growth throughout their entire life. By carefully considering these three criteria, however, you can make a decision that will allow your child the best educational opportunity possible.

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Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via shutterstock.com

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