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Finding The Right Fit: How to Choose The Right Private School in Houston

Choosing your child’s school is one of the biggest decisions a parent makes. Whether you’re looking for a home zoned to a specific neighborhood school or exploring private school options, it’s a choice that will impact your family for many years to come. And right here in Houston, TX, your options are abundant. There are so many, in fact, that this process can seem daunting and overwhelming to even the most prepared parent. But if you know what to look for – and what to ask – you’ll be finding your child’s best-fit school in no time.

Navigating Private School Options: Key Factors to Consider 

When thinking about different private education options in Houston, there are many things to consider. Are you looking for a faith-based school or something more secular? Is there a school associated with the church you attend? Are you looking for a Montessori, classical, contemporary educational philosophy? Are you looking for an elementary school, a K-8 option, or a K-12 model? There are several private schools in Houston to meet each of these criteria. Once you’ve narrowed down your ideal model, based on your child’s needs, you can then start looking at individual school options.

Questions to Better Understand Your Child’s Needs

An important first step in this process is to think about your child. Is he better-suited to a smaller or larger environment? Do you anticipate she’ll need additional support beyond the classroom? What about a single-gender vs. co-ed environment? Your answers to these questions are key to guiding your next steps. These considerations are the different criteria we use to evaluate private schools, especially when looking for the best school for your family.

Private School Criteria to Research: Digging Deeper for the Right Fit

Researching the best private schools in Houston will help you find these answers. As you’re researching, we encourage you to consider these key points:

Educational Philosophy

You likely won’t have to look too hard to learn about a school’s academic philosophy as most schools are eager to share the benefits of their approach. Perhaps more important than knowing their approach is seeing it in practice. Take a school tour and check out the hallway displays. Student work is the most authentic snapshot of what they are learning, how they are encouraged to share their knowledge with others, and the values being promoted within the curriculum.

Here are some questions to think about when you’re touring: 

  • Does the academic program emphasize subject mastery or critical thinking? 
  • Do they talk about what the teachers are teaching or what the students are learning? 
  • Does the curriculum integrate social-emotional learning? 
  • Is the program grounded in research-based methods?

Quality Teachers

Teachers are one of the most important factors – if not the most important – contributing to student achievement. Strong schools not only recruit and retain effective teachers, they create environments that sustain and promote teachers with these qualities. Many Houston private schools have wonderful teachers. While it’s impossible to ascertain the professional and personal traits of each and every teacher at a particular school, you can ask the school about its hiring parameters and teacher support structure.

School Culture

Like educational philosophy, the best way to get a sense of the culture is to visit the campus and experience it yourself. The lunchroom and hallways are great research sites. Children walking in straight, silent lines may signify the value the school places on order and respect for authority. Kids skipping and holding hands indicates a sense of security and freedom. Consider how students treat the food service employees, and vice versa. Or how the teachers and other adults handle rowdy situations, which will give insight into disciple methods. Do the kids seem happy, stressed, engaged? Let these observations guide your heart. You’ll know the right culture when you feel it.

Private School Admission Process

Often times the admission process for Houston private schools is pretty similar, typically involving:

  • an application
  • letters of recommendation
  • a student evaluation
  • a parent interview

Applications are usually due in December for the following year, and admission decisions are available in early March. If you’re interested in a Houston private school, we encourage you to plan ahead given the early deadlines.

Another piece of the private school puzzle is tuition. Tuition rates and financial aid information are typically available on a school’s website. Be sure to pay attention to the tuition breakdown – is the number listed all encompassing? Or will you owe more for various fees and activities? If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, always feel free to email the school admission office.

Making the Final Decision

Finally, we encourage you to use this Choosing a Best-Fit School worksheet as you’re navigating this process. We’ve included information about ROBS and given you space to add information from two additional schools for comparison. If you’d like to learn more about ROBS, we invite you to read about our dual mission that blends ambitious academics with abiding Christian values

Be sure to pay special attention to your child’s individual needs as you work through this document – keeping your child at the center of this decision always results in the best possible outcome. 

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