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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Updated December 16, 2015 |
You Know You Are in a Montessori School When....
Montessori classrooms are different from the classrooms in conventional schools. Here's what to look for.

Dr. Maria Montessori's first Casa de Bambini in Rome opened in 1906. That school and Dr. Montessori's methods were was so innovative and ahead of their time that word of Dr. Montessori and her methods spread quickly around Europe. By 1911 the first Montessori school opened in the United States. That school was located north of New York City in Tarrytown. When you consider that communications in the early twentieth century were slow, the fact that word about Dr. Montessori did spread so quickly was remarkable. One other fact worth noting is that Dr. Montessori began her work with disadvantaged children living in Rome's poorest neighborhoods. Yet when her approach found its way to the United States, it appealed strongly to middle-class parents who were looking for enlightened alternatives to the traditional educational methods found in American schools. The following video offers a brief history of Montessori.

Nowadays Montessori schools enjoy an enthusiastic following with approximately 4,000 certified schools in the U.S. Most of these are private schools offering the early or primary grades. Only about 200 public schools use the Montessori method or some version thereof. 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. As a result you will have to be observant and aware of what to look for.

You will know that

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Updated February 29, 2016 |
5 Facts About Progressive Schools
Progressive schools are different from traditional schools. These five facts highlight some of those differences.

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 even exist. 

First, here is some of the background on the progressive movement here in the United States. The easiest way to understand how progressivism got started in this country is to realize that educators were also philosophers. For example, the Vermont native John Dewey (1859-1952) who founded the University of Chicago's Laboratory School which many consider the flagship of progressive education, was a distinguished philosopher as well as an educator. In a nutshell, Dewey knew that education was the way to make sweeping changes in society. After he had left the University of Chicago, Dewey founded The New School in New York. The foundation of Dewey's approach to education rests on three lectures he gave back in the 1890s to raise money for his Laboratory School. The School and Social Progress, the School and the Life of the Child, and Waste in Education put forth Dewey's fundamental beliefs that education needs to be an interactive process in which the child discovers the relevance of his lessons to the real world outside.

Dewey did not like the segmentation of education as it progressed from the kindergarten years to high school. He espoused a unified approach which would ultimately produce capable

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Updated October 18, 2014 |
Schools with Non-traditional Approaches
Categorizing schools is not a neat process. But there are several educational approaches and philosophies offer some alternatives to traditional schools. Here are some pros and cons about alternative schools.
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
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Updated February 26, 2016 |
Schools for Gifted Children
Teaching gifted children requires deft handling. These children need intellectual and sensory stimulation. But they also need guidance and careful nurturing so that they grow up handling their special gifts and themselves appropriately.

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

It dawns on us that 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 both his teachers and his peers might misunderstand his giftedness. Ideally, you want him to blossom and flourish in a formal school setting; however you don't want limits placed on how fast he advances. If he decides to explore a particular subject in depth, you want him to be able to do that. If he is doing math several years ahead of his grade level, you want him to have an accelerated math program. You also want him to socialize in as normal a manner as possible. Learning how to fit in is paramount as he matures. Fortunately, you have several options available. Homeschooling, charter schools, talented and gifted programs run by your local school district, your local public school, and private schools are all possibilities into which you should look.

Start by looking for schools in the web. Ask friends and family for their recommendations. Once you have a short list of schools and programs

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Updated March 21, 2016 |
Lab Schools
What is a lab school? It's a K-12 school or school with some variation of those grades which is operated by a university or college.
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 will
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