The Different Types of Private Schools

North Raleigh Country Day School

Robert Kennedy

Did you know there are more than 30,000 private schools in the United States? It can be a bit overwhelming; the possibilities for finding a quality education are virtually endless. Add to this mix, that there are many different types of schools that exist for families to choose from. Let's take a look at some of the different types of private schools that exist and what the benefits of each option might be for you. 

Private School or Independent School

You may not know this, but all independent schools are considered private schools. But, not all private schools are independent. What's the difference between the two? Funding. That's truly the one thing that separates an independent school from the rest of the private schools.

Boarding Schools

Boarding Schools can simply be defined as private schools where students also live. These residential schools bring together students from all different states and even countries to live and learn in one environment.

The diversity at boarding schools is usually much greater than a private day school because of the residential aspect. Students live in dormitories, similar to the college experience, and have dorm parents who also reside on campus in the dorms, as well as in separate houses on campus.

Often, because students live on campus, there are more opportunities for them to participate in after-school activities, as well as weekend and evening events. Boarding school opens up more opportunities for involvement at school than a day school and can give students more independence as they learn to live on their own without their parents in a nurturing and supportive environment, which can make the transition to college much easier.

Single-Sex Schools

As the name suggests, these are schools that are designed around educating only one gender. These schools can be boarding or day schools, but focus on the aspects of living and learning that best support one gender. Often, military schools may be all boys, and all girls schools are known for their traditions of sisterhood and empowerment. Read this article from Laurel, a graduate of an all-girls boarding school and her story of how the experience changed her life. 

Classical Christian Schools

A Christian school is one which adheres to Christian teachings. A classical Christian school emphasizes biblical teachings and incorporates a teaching model consisting of three parts: grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

Country Day Schools

The term country day school conjures up visions of a lovely school setting on the edge of a field or woods somewhere. That's the idea, and typically this type of educational institution is truly a day school, meaning students don't reside on campus, like at a boarding school. 

Special Needs Schools

Special needs schools cover a wide range of learning disabilities including ADD/ADHD, dyslexia and other learning syndromes. They have the specially trained and certificated staff necessary to teach children with learning disabilities. These schools can also be therapeutic in nature and can benefit students who have behavioral and discipline issues.

Military Schools

There are over 35 private military schools in the United States. If your son or daughter dreams of a military career, then you ought to consider these fine schools seriously.

Often, military schools carry a stereotype of being schools for students who need stronger discipline, but many of these schools are highly selective in nature, with rigorous academics, high expectations for student performance, and a focus on developing strong leaders.

While many military schools are all boys by design, there are some that accept female students.

Montessori Schools

Montessori schools follow the teachings and philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori. They are schools that only serve elementary and middle school students, with the highest grade served being eighth. Some Montessori Schools work with children as young as infants, while the vast majority - 80% to be exact - start with students ages 3-6.

The approach to Montessori learning is very student-centric, with students leading the way in learning, and teachers serving more as mentors and guides throughout the process. It's a highly progressive approach, with a lot of hands-on learning.

Waldorf Schools

Rudolf Steiner invented Waldorf schools. Their style of teaching and the curriculum are unique. Founded in Germany in 1919, the Waldorf schools were originally founded for workers at the Waldorf Astoria Cigarette Company, at the request of the director. Waldorf schools are considered highly teacher directed. A unique aspect of Waldorf Schools is that traditional academic subjects are introduced later in life than other schools, with a strong focus on imaginative activities in the early years. 

Religious and Cultural Schools

Many parents want their children to be educated in a school where their religious beliefs are a focal point rather than just an add-on. There are plenty of schools to accommodate every religious requirement.

These schools may be of any faith, but have the values of the religion at the core of their educational philosophies. While students don't necessarily have to be of the same religion as the school (this may vary from institution to institution) many schools do require a specific course of study related to the faith and culture.

Article edited by Stacy Jagodowski

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Your Citation
Kennedy, Robert. "The Different Types of Private Schools." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Kennedy, Robert. (2020, August 26). The Different Types of Private Schools. Retrieved from Kennedy, Robert. "The Different Types of Private Schools." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 9, 2023).