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Public, Private, or Independent? Exploring School Options for Your Child.

As parents, you have many avenues to explore when it comes to your child’s education. When you begin to do your research, you will find there are many different choices:  online or in person, co-educational or single-gender, and public, private or independent.  

Independent?  You may be asking yourself, “What is an independent school? I thought schools were public or private?”  Actually, there are other options and while all independent schools are private, not all private schools are independent. 

Defining Independent Schools

An independent school has an independent board of trustees that oversees the school's operation, while a private school is often part of another entity, such as a for-profit corporation or a not-for-profit organization like a church or synagogue.  Independent schools typically have a unique mission statement and the freedom and flexibility to educate students in the spirit of that mission.

So what does that mean for you and your family?

With more than 2,000 independent schools in the United States that vary in size and educational approach, you may want to explore this wider category as an option for your child.  Consider what your child needs or wants, in the classroom and beyond, to find success.  

  • How best does your child learn? 
  • What subjects excite your child? 
  • What challenges your child?
  • Is your child an artist, athlete, scientist, musician, designer, writer, some or all of the above?
  • Does your child want to find and nurture their identity?  
  • Is your child ready for something more? 
  • Would your child benefit from increased responsibility and agency?


Independent School Faculty

Independent school teachers have the flexibility to create educational experiences that meet each child’s needs, without mandates on curriculum, textbooks, and testing. The low student to teacher ratio also fosters an environment where children are well-known and celebrated for their role in the community.

Smaller classes also allow teachers to customize education and support students to find the ways in which learning happens most naturally, with both rigorous intellectual preparation and curriculum geared to students with learning differences

Faculty facilitate hands-on experiential learning both in and out of the classroom, often within specialized academic tracks that allow students to take a deep-dive into topics that interest them. 


Perkiomen Students in Medical Institute working at cadaver lab


Independent School Community

As a parent, your input is welcomed and encouraged as part of the larger school community. At Perkiomen School, we often say we are here to be your “partner in parenting,” working in conjunction with your family to support the growth and development of your child. 

Students are given the freedom and the support to be who they are and pursue extra-curricular activities or new clubs and events, like starting a Cultural Festival or podcasting.  


Next Steps for Families

If you are ready to learn more, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) has provided a helpful checklist, to determine what type of independent school may be right for your child.  

You may also be interested in reading our recently published e-book, The Value of an Independent School Education: 5 Reasons It’s Worth It


Cover of The Value of an Independent School Education with Perkiomen School students


You are also invited to learn more about Perkiomen School, an independent boarding and day school for students in grades 6-12 and post-graduates, by exploring our website or contacting us to start a conversation.  Best of luck to you on your journey!  


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By Bernadette Kovaleski, Director of Marketing & Communications, Perkiomen School

Bernadette Kovaleski earned bachelor’s and master's degrees in Journalism and Communications and delights in telling the transformational stories that are uncovered each day at Perkiomen School. Her experience includes advancement, development, and communications roles in higher education and the non-profit sector before coming to Perkiomen School in 2016.