The other issue frequently encountered is the style of teaching. With all of these things and more in mind, let's explore what's involved in getting your child into private elementary school.
Supply and demand Places for the best elementary schools are always going to be in demand. If you live in a city like New York, you literally will need to put your child's name on the list shortly after birth in order to even get an interview at some of the most sought after schools. Well, perhaps not that soon, but don't delay calling the schools and finding out their admissions procedures. Do it well in advance. Two years ahead of time is not too early.
What kind of teaching do you want? There are basically two approaches to teaching at the elementary grade level:
- The traditional teacher-directed approach
- The student-centric approach
The traditional teacher-directed approach You will find the traditional teacher-directed approach in most elementary schools. The teacher determines what will be learned and when it will be learned. The classroom reflects this more regimented view of how children learn. You will find desks and chairs all neatly lined up in rows, for example. Children are usually grouped by age level and by grade. The curriculum follows that kind of structured approach as well. 5th grade math is taught in 5th grade, 4th grade language arts are taught in 4th grade and so on. This is the way most of us were taught. You may still feel that this is the best approach for your child.
The student-centric approach Montessori, Waldorf and progressive schools use a student-centric approach. What do we mean? In a student-centric classroom the teacher guides children in their learning process. But basically you will find children working on whatever they want to whenever they wish to. The day has broad blocks of time set out for learning and discovery. Students are typically grouped in multi-age classes encompassing several grades. You won't find a teacher at the front of the classroom looking out over rows of desks and smiling faces. You will find her sitting with a child explaining a math concept he has asked about. Or perhaps she is helping children to plant seedlings in the window garden.
You will find some schools which try to blend the best of both approaches. Whether that works or not has to be something you determine.
It is most important that you and the school be in harmony with regard to your mutual expectations. The goals of an elementary education should be:
- Teaching a child how to read and write
- Teaching a child how to interact with others
- Developing a sense of discovery and love of learning