Kinds of Schools

Private schools are just as varied as public schools. From Catholic to progressive, military to special needs, private schools offer a lot of options. Take a comprehensive look into the many types of private schools, weigh the pros and cons of each, and get helpful tips on choosing one that works best for your child.
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Montessori schools enjoy an enthusiastic following with approximately 4,000 certified schools in the U.S. Most of these are private schools. Only about 200 public schools use the Montessori method. Because Dr. Maria Montessori did not trademark the name Montessori, any school can claim to be a Montessori school. Just because it says it is a Montessori school does not mean that it is the real thing.

You will know that you are in a Montessori school when you observe or detect the following features.

The teachers are not teaching.
It sounds like a contradiction, doesn't it? Teachers not teaching? That's because Montessori teachers don't run their classrooms in a conventional manner. You won't see desks lined up with children sitting watching and listening to a teacher at the front of the classroom.

The International Montessori Index explains how this works:

"Except for infant/toddler groups (Ratio dictated by local social service regulations), the teaching ratio is one trained Montessori teacher and one non-teaching aide to 30+ children. Rather than lecturing to large or small groups of children, the teacher is trained to teach one child at a time, and to oversee thirty or more children working on a broad array of tasks. She is facile in the basic lessons of math, language, the arts and sciences, and in guiding a child's research and exploration, capitalizing on his interest in and excitement about a subject. The teacher does not make assignments or dictate what to . . .read more
Progressive schools are different from traditional schools. Their educational philosophies and teaching methods are different. Because there are so few progressive schools, relatively speaking - only about 75 schools call themselves progressive - most people are surprised when they discover that these schools exist. Here then are five facts about progressive schools which we hope will encourage you to find out more about progressive education.

1. Most progressive schools don't issue report cards.
Professor John Dewey disliked the notion of children sitting in rigid rows listening to a teacher, memorizing facts and regurgitating those facts on command. Dr. Dewey felt that students needed to learn by doing. Implicit in this philosophy of education is an aversion to testing and report cards. You will monitor your child's progress in less traditional ways. Instead of receiving a document with traditional grades such as A's and B's you will receive a reporting detailing your child's progress in a variety of areas which the school feels are important.

2. Montessori, Waldorf and Reggio Emilia schools are progressive schools.
Instrinsic in a Montessori education is the idea that a child needs to explore in order to learn. Learning is guided in the Montessori classroom. The teacher does not direct the learning. She guides it. Classes are multiage so that a younger child learns from older children. Waldorf schools are world-famous for developing children's imaginations. Reggio
Emilia inspired schools emphasize the involvement and collaborative aspects of educating their students. These are . . .read more
Are you thinking about something other than the usual public school experience for your toddler or primary school age child? If you are, then the next question you are most likely asking is exactly what kind of alternatives are out there anyway? How expensive are they? Are there schools in my area? How will the foundation these schools provide serve my child's future learning in grade school, high school and beyond? Let's take a look at each of these questions and offer some answers.
 
Early Education Options
 
Traditional teacher-led education? A follow the child approach as championed by Maria Montessori? The Steiner approach? Reggio Emilia inspired? Those are your broad choices.
 
Traditional teacher-led education remains popular. Most of us are familiar with this approach to teaching primary age school children because we ourselves are products of those classes. The public school system which I attended in Westmount, Montreal back in the '50s used that traditional approach. Indeed we all had desks lined up in rows. Looking back it seems rather quaint and not a little bit militaristic. But that's the way we were taught back then. We had homework. We were given grades. We are rapped on the knuckles if we misbehaved.
 
In the 21st century traditional teacher-led education is the norm in many schools both public and private. There are an infinite number of variations on this approach. Some retain the regimentation and strictness which we and our parents remember. Most, however, tend to have been softened with a deeper understanding of . . .read more
It is a humbling moment for parents when they realize that their child is gifted. If we accept the definition of gifted as being something along these lines:

"A gifted person is someone who shows, or has the potential for showing, an exceptional level of performance in one or more areas of expression." ....National Association of Gifted Children

then it becomes obvious we have a huge responsibility on our hands. Because you have enriched your child's learning since birth, you understandably are anxious about placing him in a school setting where his giftedness will be misunderstood by both teachers and his peers. You want him to blossom and flourish in a formal school setting. You don't want limits placed on how fast he advances in a particular subject. You also want him to socialize in as normal a manner as possible. What then, besides home schooling, are your options?

The reality is that your choices for educating your gifted child may be limited by where you live and the programs available in your local public and private schools. Private schools for gifted children are highly specialized schools with well-qualified faculty who understand how to teach gifted children. Admission is generally based on several criteria one of which is an IQ test with a minimum of 125-140 the norm. The schools will also want to interview you and your child in order to see if there is a good match between your needs and requirements . . .read more
What is a lab school? It is a K-12 school or school with some variation of those grades which typically is operated by a university or college. Sometimes it is called a demonstration school. A few lab schools are not affiliated with any institution of higher learning.
 
The school is a lab or laboratory school because teachers in training and the faculty of the college's education department usually have a hand in teaching and running the school. Like scientists experimenting in their labs, these educators use the lab school as their place to try out theories and methods. They also provide student teachers a controlled situation where they can learn the art of teaching.
 
Most lab schools are progressive schools as well. What are the differences between traditional and progressive schools? This chart from the Wingras School in Madison, Wisconsin illustrates the main differences. Lab schools adopt the progressive philosophy as part of their child-centric approach to education. The flexibility inherent in the progressive approach works well with student teachers who are just coming to grips with how children learn.
 

The list of schools which follows includes only private lab schools. Many state and public universities operate their lab schools in conjunction with the local school district. As such they do not charge tuition or charge very little tuition. The private lab schools do charge tuition.
 
A.E. Phillips Laboratory School, Ruston, LA
Grades: K-8
Program: "The school's purpose is to educate students in a wholesome, challenging environment that . . .read more
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Kinds of Schools

Kinds of Schools

Private schools are just as varied as public schools. From Catholic to progressive, military to special needs, private schools offer a lot of options. Take a comprehensive look into the many types of private schools, weigh the pros and cons of each, and get helpful tips on choosing one that works best for your child.