This article first appeared in the May-June 20013 issue of Smart Parenting magazine
Parents only want the best for their children—and that means giving them the best education they can afford. However, what’s conventionally believed as the best schools may not necessarily be the most suitable for your child. With the emergence of non-traditional schools, parents now have more options to choose from. This is good news especially for children with special concerns.
Traditional vs Non-traditional Feny de los Angeles Bautista, director of the Community of Learners School for Children, says parents should see whether their kids can cope with a traditional education setup or they’re better off with a non-traditional school.
Bautista defines the traditional setup as “chalk and talk,” where teachers spend most of the time giving lectures. Emphasis is placed on textbooks, worksheets and flashcards, especially at the preschool level.
The non-traditional setup refers to a range of approaches guided by different philosophies. These range from the open or individualized programs to those that subscribe to a particular method like the Montessori system.
Here are some questions to guide you in your choice of a school for your child:
1. Does your child have a learning disability? If your child has a learning disability (e.g., dyslexia, etc.), you should think twice about enrolling him in a traditional school. He might have a hard time coping with the regular curriculum.
2. Does your child have difficulty relating with other children? “Going to preschool means learning how to deal with other children,” Bautista said. “For some children it will be easy to make friends, but for others, it could be a very trying experience.”
3. Is your child temperamental? If your child is temperamental or is prone to tantrums, his teacher would have to give him extra effort and attention –- something that tutors in traditional setups might not have time to do.
4. Does your child have special needs? Special children now have more opportunities for learning and development. Schools for special children differ in teaching principles and approaches. Some of these schools also offer additional services such as occupational and speech therapy.
5. Does your child have a short attention span? Traditional schools do the chalk and talk. So if your kid can’t sit still for ten minutes, he’d have a hard time coping with lectures.
6. Does your child have a physical handicap? Children with physical handicaps might have a hard time with regular schools, as most of them do not have facilities for handicapped persons.
7. Does your child have difficulty following instructions? In school, rules rule. There’s a rule for virtually every activity. If your kid doesn’t like rules, then he’ll have a hard time in a regular school.
8. Does your child have difficulty sticking with routines? One of the things that children will have to deal with when they enter school is structure. There is a time for learning, for playing and for eating. They will also learn that they cannot spend all their time playing outside the classroom.
How did you score? If you answered yes to all or most of these questions, then consider looking for a non-traditional school for your child.
What to look for in a preschool Bautista shares some tips:
• Look for a preschool with a low teacher-to-student ratio so that your child’s development can be closely monitored.
• Visit the school. Observe how the teachers interact with the children.
• Bring your child to the school so he can see for himself if he would want to study in that school.
• Opt for a preschool that makes use of motor activities, music and movement and a lot of outdoor play in its curriculum.
• See if the school’s classroom walls are filled with students’ artwork. Bautista says, “That is definitely a good sign because it shows that the teacher is concerned about the development of her students. Besides, it also boosts children’s emotions when they see their artworks displayed.”
• It also helps if the school is equipped with a lot of outdoor play equipment and a sandbox to ensure the full development of the child. Children learn as they play. For example, Bautista says playing in the sandbox helps a child develop his motor skills. This would benefit him later on when he starts learning to write.