"How do they teach?" is a question which has to be in the back of your mind as you begin to consider sending your child to private school. It also is relevant at almost any stage of that process. Whether you are looking at your options for preschool, primary school, middle school or high school, how the teachers teach is just as important as what they teach. As you review the curriculum, you need to familiarize yourself with how it is taught. Make sure that aspect matches your requirements.
Let's look at three areas of concern which we as parents have faced outside the classroom as we have raised our children. We had control of what we taught and how we shaped our child's thinking up to the point where she went off to school. That changes once she is being taught by somebody else and interacting with other children. The following three areas are interdependent, are complementary and overlap. They have to form the backdrop for effective classroom teaching.
1. Developing critical thinking.
Writing teaches a child to document events, feelings, ideas and facts. Organizing materials and marshalling facts help a child make sense of huge amounts of information. Since writing is such an important skill, closely examine how the school teaches writing.
Reading is the other skill which needs to be taught early and effectively. Having your child taught reading by a skilled reading teacher is something you want to make sure is part of the...
Fit trumps selectiveness.
The right school for your child is the one which suits your needs and his needs best. How do you figure that out? By actually visiting the school. Try to do that while classes are in session. If at all possible, arrange an overnight if your child is considering a boarding school.
Now I can hear you thinking to yourself that the videos and the Skype chats were so wonderful that the school has to be perfect for your child. There's no need to visit. So expensive and so much trouble. Perhaps. But, you know how videos are produced. No matter how relaxed and casual they may appear, they show you exactly what the school wants you to see. A Skype chat certainly is useful and can answer many questions. However, and I cannot stress this enough, it is no substitute for...
1. Consultants know their schools.
Why is this important? After all, the internet gives you everything you need to know about schools, right? Not exactly. Don't forget that a school's web site presents its story as the school wants it told. The videos are compelling. The photos are gorgeous. And the testimonials are glowing. As they should be. However, an educational consultant works for you. Not the school. She is paid by you. Not the school. She will point out features and aspects to a school's program which you perhaps have not thought of. Why is that? Because she is a professional. Just like an attorney will point out the pluses and minuses in a contract, an educational consultant can and will point out the advantages and disadvantages of a particular school as they relate to your child.
2. Consultants have contacts at schools.
Educational consultants visit schools. They make a point of keeping their networks current. As a result they can get answers to questions which you may or may not think about asking. They will know that a certain school has just been made an IB school and what that means and says about the school's programs. They will know that the long time English department head has retired and that some exciting, new programs are in the works. That means that an educational consultant can get answers to your questions because...
The right school With dozens of private schools to choose from, choosing the right one is probably the most crucial item on this list. Which is the right school? You'll know it when you visit it and talk to the admissions staff. It's the school which best meets your requirements as a parent and the requirements of that precious cargo which you are about to entrust to the school.
You can review the statistics and data about the school. You can determine that its philosophy and educational mission align with your goals and objectives. But the real question is how will your child fit in. If you feel good about your answer to that question, you are all set.
The right sports As you review private schools, you will begin to realize that each school is unique. The facilities and programs are different at each school. Yes, each school may have a hockey team, for example, but at what level is the hockey actually being played? What's the coaching staff like? Sports are an integral part of most private school programs. But, as with everything else in this process, assume nothing. Investigate the sports offered, the level of the programs offered and the facilities. Your child will spend from 6-12 hours a week playing sports. Make it the best experience possible so that you set healthy...
1. Cast your net as widely as you want.
This is the fun part of the process. Look at anything and everything. No holds barred. If a school in Dallas appeals to you, put it on the list. If one in Lakeville, Connecticut floats your boat, add it to your list. You should end up with 15-20 schools on your first list. Be sure to visit each one virtually. Most schools will have videos so that you can get an idea of what the schools are like by watching the videos. This is not a substitute for visiting a school. It's merely the first pass.
2. Create a short list of schools.
This is where you have to determine which school or schools will be your safe school. What exactly is a safe school? It's a school to which you have an excellent chance of being admitted. It's a school which perhaps is not as competitive as some of the others on your list.
That is the challenge of the second step in this process. You must determine as accurately as possible which schools are genuine reaches or schools which you have a very small chance of getting in. Yes, anything is possible. But you don't need to be relying on a miracle to get you accepted at a school.