Education is not one size fits all. Choosing the right school for your child is one of the most important decisions and investments a parent can make. A solid education serves as the foundation for the rest of your child’s life, so the decision of which school to enroll your child in should not be taken lightly or hastily.
There are many types of schools that continue to pop up in the South Florida area – independent, private, Montessori, magnet, faith-based, public, and more. With so many options to choose from, why should you consider an independent school?
By definition, independent schools are unique and characterized by strong academics, adherence to quality standards, autonomy in choosing curriculum (i.e., not teaching to the test), and adherence to their school mission. In general, students at independent schools are well-rounded, are held to high academic standards, and enjoy the many benefits of small class sizes.
So, your family has narrowed the field in terms of what type of education is the best fit for you. Now what? Below, we’ve broken down four essential things to consider when researching and touring a potential new school for your family.
What are the school’s mission and values?
Reviewing a school’s mission and values can be one of the quickest ways to determine whether it might be a good fit for your family’s educational needs. Independent schools are often mission-driven schools, with the mission not only prominently displayed on the website and other marketing materials but also evident in each classroom. Be sure to look for the mission and core values on the school’s website, and ask about it during your tour.
What is the student/faculty relationship?
One of the most valuable aspects of an independent school education is the low teacher-student ratio. The smaller the class size, the more individualized the learning will be for your child. The way in which a school makes use of its teacher-student ratio can be a key factor in what differentiates the school from others. Is there more 1:1 time with the teacher? Do they take advantage of interdisciplinary programs? What is their approach to field trips? When considering a school, talk with Admissions and current families, and observe for yourself on a tour what the school’s student-teacher relationships look like and how their classroom size seems to directly affect the academic programs.
Does the school speak to the whole child?
Studies show that a students’ success in learning depends not only on instruction, but also on factors including school climate, having a sense of belonging, creating positive relationships with their teachers, and received feedback in the classroom and on the field. Academics are no longer the only indicator for success, but instead part of a larger formula that also includes social and emotional learning (SEL). In addition to academics, independent schools also emphasize nurturing students’ personal and social growth and civic conscience, ultimately shaping a well-rounded child who is not only independent but also open-minded, agreeable, conscientious and more apt to lead.
Do parents, teachers and students share a strong partnership?
Independent schools promote regular communication among students, parents, and teachers to ensure everyone is working toward the same goals, adhering to what is sometimes referred to as a “triangle” approach to education. Parents are considered integral to the success of their child and therefore, regular communication is the norm in an independent school. Parents are encouraged to be active participants in the life of the school. If you ask our current and former PBDA families, it is this sense of partnership that stands Palm Beach Day Academy apart from the rest. The family feel and sense of belonging at our school is unmatched.
For more information about Palm Beach Day Academy, Florida’s first independent school, please visit our website or contact Admissions (561-832-8815).