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Questions Parents Should Ask When Choosing a Parochial School

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr, studioD

Parents who can afford to pay tuition for their child’s education might consider parochial schools, private religious schools, over public schools. Neither the tuition cost nor waiting list length indicate the quality of education your child will receive at a parochial school, although students in parochial schools often score higher on standardized tests than public school students, according to the Great Schools web site. The key is to ask important questions before enrolling your child in any school.


When you check out a parochial school, ask questions about their academic offerings and standards. Classes might or might not be smaller than those in public school. Teachers in private schools do not have to be state certified public school teachers, according to Great Schools. That can be good news or bad news. It could mean that a parochial teacher has more real world application for a subject than a public school teacher. It may also mean that the parochial teacher has no professional education in teaching kids. Public school textbooks must conform to state standards and parochial schools can choose any textbook, including writing their own curriculum, explains Great Schools. Public schools might also offer more electives and extra-curricular options than a parochial school. Ask to see the textbooks and classrooms to see what the parochial school is teaching and ask about the credentials of the teaching staff.


Parochial schools might not offer resources available in public schools, such as computers, special education teachers and tutors, reports WABS-TV news in New York. If your child has a learning challenge, you might find the resources you need are available in a public school setting, but not at your favorite parochial school. If your child wants to work on a computer at school, you could be the one paying for it. Ask what kinds of resources the school offers for kids who fall behind or who are more advanced that their peers. Ask to see the school computers, science labs and physical education facilities. Ask what options kids have for meals during the school day.


Public schools do not require parents to pay to educate their kids, although some programs have fees. Parochial schools rely on the funding from their religious sponsor and tuition, in addition to any grants and endowments they may have. Ask about the tuition and fees for enrolling your child in the school. You can also ask about scholarships they offer for exceptional students, discounts for families with multiple children enrolled and what level of fund raising involvement they expect from you to help defray costs.

Order and Perspective

Parochial schools are often characterized as a climate where order, respect and self-discipline are the norm, according to Education.com. Parochial schools usually require students to attend chapel and take daily religious instruction. Parochial schools often require students to wear uniforms or wear church clothes on chapel day. The school could choose to omit teaching subject material that conflicts with the church’s religious doctrine, such as evolution and sex education. Ask what the school policy is on these issues. You should also ask how the school deals with disciplinary issues such as dress code, rules infractions and what items are prohibited on campus.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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