09/27/2012 05:04 EDT | Updated 11/26/2012 05:12 EST

What to Know Before Sending Your Kid to Private School

With a new school year underway, we kiss the lazy days of summer goodbye and say hello to new routines. Amidst the whirlwind and frenzy of back-to-school activity, it is important that our children maintain a sense of stability and security, both at home and at school, which will help them excel academically and in their extra-curriculars.

However, with the labour unrest among teachers, parents in Ontario (and other provinces including Alberta and B.C.) are becoming concerned with back-to-work legislation when the focus should be on ensuring our kids are ready for the challenges a new school year presents.

Over the past few weeks and months, our website has seen a rise in information requests for private education. We are receiving on average 200 questions a month specifically asking for information; on top of the additional 200,000 plus visitors per month who spend time visiting the website looking for details on applications. This rise in inquiries is on trend with what is occurring throughout Canada as more and more private schools are seeing an increase in applicants. In my opinion, this demonstrates that parents put their children's education and future as a priority; independent of cost. But is there really a huge difference between private and public school education?

Below, I have outlined some of the differences and similarities between private and public school education:

Private School Benefits:

• Smaller class sizes: Teachers have more opportunities to recognize a child's strengths and weaknesses, especially at the beginning of a kid's private school experience.

• Programs that cater to skills: Another feature that appeals to parents is that private schools have the ability to find and nurture a specific talent, helping build self-esteem through programs that cater to multiple skills. They also offer many extracurricular activities such as sports, music, arts or clubs; enabling students to find an interest outside of the classroom that they excel in.

• Extra help before or after school: Most private school teachers spend time with struggling children beyond regular scheduled school hours.

• Individualized learning environments specific to the needs and aptitudes of different learning styles: Many private schools will focus more attention to the subjects where a child may be struggling and accommodate with lesson plans catered to their style of learning -- be it auditory, visual or tactile.

• Varying educational options: This includes international exchange programs, advanced placement (AP) or international baccalaureate (IB); faith-based schools -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim; coed or single gender schools; and special needs schools.

What's Wrong with Our Schools and How We Can Fix Them. Private schools that are included in the rankings often score high in the Fraser Institute's report cards measuring academic achievement among all school types that take standardized tests.

Public School Benefits:

• Cost-effective; public school is free, paid for by Canadians' tax dollars. Although there are more ways and financial aid to manage the costs of private school, private schools may not be affordable for some families.

• Public schools are overseen by provincial governments: and local school boards (many private schools that receive government funding or grant credits for the provincial high school diploma are also required to abide by provincial standards, but families must exercise due diligence and do research on each school)

• Like private schools, some public schools offer specialized courses or programs -- e.g., math and science, special needs and the arts

• Public schools don't usually require prospective students to undergo entrance interviews or tests in order to attend the school, so students may be exposed to a wider range of people. Whereas, some private schools may be more selective than public schools and can be stressful to get into

• Students in public schools are typically grouped according to geographical area, which can be an advantage in terms of out-of-school socializing

• Typically, teachers in North American public schools must have a bachelor's degree as well as federal, state or provincial certification.

• Top public schools may have a wide range of resources and cutting-edge equipment

Schools play a vital component in how our kids grow and develop. And as parents, we all want what is best for our kids. Learning about the different education options is a great place to start. On October 20th, we will be hosting a Private School Expo. Come and visit. You never know, the best education for your child may be waiting for you.