You toured the school, went to open house, asked all of the right questions, and can almost recite the school’s mission statement verbatim, but despite your thorough research, there are still things you wish you would have known about having a child in private school.
Private schools provide a ton of information when you are applying your child. They are also equipped with a knowledgeable staff who are there to answer every question you may have. Unfortunately, not every “answer” makes it into the school’s FAQ, simply because the questions haven’t been thought of–until now.
We spoke with a few local private school moms who want to share what they wish they would have known, along with offer tips on how to make sure it’s smooth sailing for you and your star student all year long.
Stash Some Cash. Many schools have registration fees, book fees, lunch fees, and tech fees, and if you have more than one child attending the same school, well there’s usually a fee for that, too. All of these fees certainly add up, leaving you to try and pull it all together last minute to make sure you aren’t owing anything to the school or getting a letter sent home with your child asking for payment.
Knowing that these fees are due is important, but also preparing for their due dates ahead of time is just as crucial. Local mom Amy Foreman shares, “I wish I would have put away $25-50 a month. This would have helped so much when registering.”
Our advice? Start an envelope where you can begin storing extra cash in it, whenever you can. It doesn’t have to be $25-50, and it doesn’t have to be monthly. Look at how much your fees are and divide it up to what will work best with your timeline. By storing the money away, you will be ready, even if there are any surprise fees.
Dress to Impress. Uniforms make getting ready for school super quick. The rustling through dressers is almost eliminated completely as kiddos can simply wake up, put their uniforms on, and be ready to go. However, having enough pairs of uniforms for each child in the house can start to cost a pretty penny. And with how quickly children grow, having to replace them happens way sooner than we would like. Foreman shares that she wishes she would have known that some local private schools offer used uniform sales to help keep your kiddos compliant with the dress code, and that a few uniform shops even offer discounts to help you save.
Local mom Allison Farber shares, “I rely on the used uniform sale at my child’s school. We typically buy the clearance polos and purchase a $1 logo that irons on. It’s cheap and nice.” If you’re looking to save, locations such as School Time Uniforms, Inka’s Uniforms, and Young Fashions School Uniforms offer discounts at various times throughout the year.
Monogram Everything. It’s no shocker that children lose things. I am sure you have spent a decent amount of time rummaging through the school’s lost and found in hopes that you locate your child’s missing jacket, only to come to a standoff between two jackets that are identical and both without a name on the tag. Make the imminent lost-and-found trip a little easier by monogramming your child’s things.
“I learned it’s best to monogram your child’s name into the neck of his or her sweatshirt or jacket. The jackets are expensive, and kids leave them all over campus. The lost and found at school takes so much time to go through,” Foreman shares.
While it can be a little pricey, it is well worth it. Best of all, the names won’t rub off or wash away.
Start Researching Early. If you’re reading this and your little ones haven’t started preschool just yet, be sure to start researching schools soon! The more prepared you are, the easier the decision making will be later on. Kimberly Douglas says, “Don’t wait until your children are already in PreK and starting school next year before you start looking. Start ‘shopping’ or researching now. Also, ask everyone you know for their opinions on different schools.
Everyone has an opinion and a different experience, so it’s good to hear the good and the bad experiences people have had before you make your own decision.”
Get Comfortable with Carpool. If your child’s school doesn’t offer a transportation service, it’s likely that a lot of your time will be spent in carpool, so be prepared. Farber says, “Since there’s no bus service, it takes forever, and I wasn’t ready for that. Car seats just make it harder, but when the kids are older, I am going to try to find friends to split the load with, for instance, trade off weeks or something to lessen the amount of time sitting in the car waiting.” And some moms even try arriving early to carpool to help shorten the wait. However, it’s important to follow the school rules and traffic laws, and find out when carpool lineup can begin.
Let Them Eat. Finding out if your child’s school serves breakfast or lunch is most important. Then, knowing how the payment system works is definitely something you will want to check out. Farber says, “At my child’s school, you can only pay per semester or year. You can’t pick and only pay for the day when they serve something the kid will eat, so I’ve been packing lunch every day. That definitely surprised me.”
Kiddos are picky eaters, but unfortunately, several schools only allow you to pay at the beginning of the semester or at the beginning of the year. So, that semester’s worth of meals you paid for could very well go untouched if they don’t serve something your child wants to eat. It’s important to get with your child’s school to determine what their payment schedule is. Then, talk with your kiddo before making the decision on whether or not he will be bringing his lunch or playing a game of “What will I eat today?”
With these helpful extras, you will be even more prepared for having your child attend a private school. That’s what we all really want, right? Just making sure everyone, even you, is super ready for school? Take these tips with you to save a little money and time and reduce a lot of stress. ■