Google, Bing, and Yahoo will find anything you are looking for provided that you ask them correctly. The problem with these search engines is that if you aren't careful, you will end up with far too many results. And 99% of those results will not relevant to you and your needs. For example, when I search for "private schools" on Google, I get 1.5 billion search results. Nobody has time to look through all those schools. With that in mind, here are a few search tips to help you search more efficiently.
Save interesting sites.
Before we start searching for schools, take a few minutes to set up a Google or Word doc. Save interesting school websites for easy reference tomorrow, next week, or a month for now. Doing this will save you valuable time and keep your search process organized.
When you enter
Editor's note: In the following conversation, the parent is fictitious but her questions and my answers are real.
Parent: I am thinking about sending my teenage daughter to a private school for grades 9-12. How do I find the best school for her?
Rob K: Let me answer your question with another question. I know that I sound like an attorney by doing this, but I need to understand why you are thinking about sending your daughter to private school. Once you have told me your reasons, I will explain how to accomplish your goal.
Parent: My daughter's current school is OK. It's a public school which sends a large percentage of its graduates on to further education. So, that's OK. She's been with some of her classmates since kindergarten. Now I feel that she should be with other students who really want to learn. I also want her to be in smaller classes. She's one of 25 students right now. The other thing which concerns me is that the high school curriculum seems a bit thin, and is mostly focused on SATs and AP examination preparation.
Rob K: Now, you are giving me something to work with. Small class sizes are one of the main reasons most parents decide to send their children to private school. Most schools have 12-15 students per class. Your child will not just be a number in a small class. She will know everybody and everybody will know her. She will not be able to
When you plan your children's summer, you are giving yourself two gifts. The first is engaged, active, happy children. The second gift is the comfort of knowing that you are expanding their knowledge in an informal, supervised learning situation.
When I was growing up, my parents decamped every summer from Montreal to the shores of Lac Saint Louis about 30 miles west of the city. They rented a cottage across the road from the lake. We took swimming and sailing lessons at the Woodlands Yacht Club, helped with the large garden which provided vegetables and flowers during the short Canadian summer. It was idyllic and safe. The routine was pleasant and predictable. My parents were not rich. In the 1950s a lower-middle-class family of seven could make summers like the ones I have described above happen for a very low cost. Fast forward to the 21st century, that's essentially what the summer camps and summer schools which have sprung up over the past forty years do, namely, to provide an activity-filled day in a safe, well-supervised environment.
The most important caveat when it comes to selecting a summer program is to make certain that you understand all aspects of what is involved. Know everything about the quality of the activities, the supervision, snacks and meals, and all the other details. Assume nothing. Most schools and churches which run summer camps will be happy to answer your questions.
Now let's look at some of the options available to you at various
Editor's note: I asked Melissa P. Earls, Head of School of Academy Hill School in Springfield, Massachusetts several questions about teaching gifted children. She very kindly offered the following answers. (I will disclaim that my youngest grandson attends Academy Hill School.) - Rob Kennedy
1. Why should parents consider sending their child to a school for gifted children?
Not every school is right for every child. And, even if a child is academically advanced, or gifted in any number of ways, a school that offers an enhanced, enriched curriculum with high expectations and increased rigor might not be the right fit. I would never push any school on any student. But, for our learners, and other students like them, Academy Hill is a terrific fit. We offer several programs that set us apart.
When looking for a school for a gifted child, it is critical that parents seek out an environment that will continuously engage the child in creative, student-driven tasks. It is important that the school allow core curriculum time and opportunities for students to pursue areas of interest in depth. It is imperative that the pace of instruction matches the student's ability to comprehend content, apply knowledge and acquire skills at faster speeds and with high proficiency. Because these children are usually eager learners, formative assessments, while necessary in any educational setting, may not be as frequent and certainly do not look the same as they would in other environments. For example, monthly, quarterly or even annual
As I prepared to write this article about searching for private K-12 schools, I had a flash back to the fall of 1986 when we started looking at schools for our eldest daughter. There was no email or internet back then, at least that the general public had access to. We knew friends who had gone to private school. At one point I had interviewed to be the Music teacher at a New England boarding school. But that was it. That was all we knew about private high schools. Reaching further back into my memory bank, I remember enrolling our eldest daughter in the now defunct St. Peter's by-the-sea Day School when it first opened in 1971. When we moved to Garden City, we enrolled her in the Waldorf School of Garden City. These two decisions were fairly easy because we knew the schools which came highly recommended by family and friends. No email or web searches were possible, nor were they needed.
Back to our 21st-century private school search. We have some very powerful tools available to us. Unfortunately, these tools can produce results which can be misleading, confusing or, at worst, useless. Search engines require us to filter the data carefully to eliminate information which we don't need. Useful results depend on the manner in which you word the search terms. Happily, this is not the case with the Private School Review search engine. Our programmers have set up the fields you need to search our