Why should my child enroll at an Independent School?Jack Sweeney, Director of Enrollment
As a parent, you know your child’s well-being is of the utmost importance. Ensuring that your child is on the right path toward future success is a duty we should take seriously through research and careful consideration.
You may be considering questions such as:
“Why should my child enroll at a private school?”
“What are the benefits of a private or independent school?”
“What are the best private schools in Northwest Arkansas?”
Attending an independent school could provide your child or teen with the opportunity to bloom into a lifelong learner who leads with confidence, respects others through a well-rounded character, thinks critically with curiosity about the world, all while among a community of parents and peers who share similar values.
As you are considering options for your child’s education, consider the following 10 reasons why an independent school provides a unique learning experience for students that can benefit learners throughout their lives.
1: Personal Attention
Private and independent schools encourage close connections between educators and students through low student-teacher ratios. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) found the median ratio of member schools was 8.5 students to each teacher.
Low student-to-teacher ratios promote classroom participation, personal guidance and provide students with a strong support network in and outside of the classroom.
2: Mission-Driven Education
Because an independent school is governed by administrators and a Board of Trustees, educators are given the freedom to pursue practices that align with their school’s mission, vision, philosophies and core values. Often, a school’s mission and vision aim not only to educate their students but to guide young learners into becoming creative and curious leaders.
Through attendance and participation at an independent school, your child will have access to a community of educators, students and parents who share a commitment to a mission and vision benefitting the whole child.
3: Educating the “Whole Child”
The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development defines a whole-child approach as “policies, practices and relationships that ensure each child, in each school, in each community, is healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.” For many independent schools, students’ academic experience is enriched through participation in the arts and athletics.
Simply put, schools that embrace educating the “whole child” use instructional strategies alongside family engagement to promote a child’s social and emotional growth, not just their academic growth.
4: Diversity and Inclusion
Any community is enriched by diversity and inclusivity. Students benefit not only in the teaching of diversity and inclusion but also in the learning that the implementation provides. Research published in the Journal of College Student Development found that “a diverse student population creates a richer learning environment because students learn most from those who have very different life experiences from theirs.”
Research has also shown that a diverse school not only diversifies a student’s world view, but also that the exposure to different cultures and ideas leads to improved cognitive development, including critical thinking and problem-solving.
5: Parent-Teacher Relationship
The proverb “it takes a village to raise a child,” has influenced families globally for generations. The aged proverb still proves to be true in our modern age. Through strong relationships and consistent communication between parents and teachers, independent-school parents are involved in their child’s education, support their children’s teachers and work together to educate the whole child.
Through a healthy parent-teacher relationship, a child’s education does not end with the last bell but is continued at home by parents who share the values and mission of their child’s teachers.
6: Innovative Curriculum
Independent schools are often guided by “student-driven learning,” which permits a broad array of classes, independent studies and curriculum to encourage students to pursue topics in which they are passionate. Learning at an independent school is not driven by test scores, rather by individual curiosity and a desire for understanding.
Because independent schools are not required to adhere to state-mandated curriculum, the curriculum of independent schools can remain relevant to the changing world and adapt based on students’ needs and interests.
7: Access to Teachers and Administration
Through open lines of communication, meetings and events, independent schools provide parents with access to their students’ teachers and administrators. This access promotes a strong partnership among key stakeholders that provide dynamic solutions and ideas. The mutual support encourages challenging academics, student engagement and reinforcement of shared values while promoting the child’s well-being.
Research by the University of Chicago found that the most effective schools “had developed an unusually high degree of ‘relational trust’ among their administrators, teachers and parents.”
Teamwork among teachers and administrators, supported by active parents, allows independent schools to be proactive, dynamic and flexible. When we work together, our children benefit.
8: Opportunities for Community
Access to campus, community development and events, friendships and support systems are not limited to students. Involvement in school fundraisers, community events and volunteering through the parent association provide great ways for parents to connect with their child’s school community. Parents who are involved not only get to meet other parents who share similar interests, but also spend more time with their children among friends.
Not only does parent-community improve personal growth and experience, but the benefits also impact student learning. The National Education Association found that “When schools, parents, families and communities work together to support learning, students tend to earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school longer, and enroll in higher-level programs.”
9: Community of Life-Long Learners
The decision to attend a private or independent school does not rest only in a parents’ hands. For many students, especially throughout their adolescence in grades 5 through 12, choosing a private or independent school is a reflection of the value they hold in education. This student choice improves classroom participation, lesson engagement as well as a communal desire to learn.
In a letter to the editor featured on The Atlantic, one private-school parent and public-school teacher found that at the private school her child attends, “personal engagement is ‘cool.’ And any interruption is going to annoy everybody—not just the teacher.”
“In general, the teens at the public school don’t appear to have bought into an educational environment like that at [my child’s school]—and for good reason: There's nothing to buy. It’s difficult for them to show personal choice in their schooling because they’re obligated to be there regardless of whether they want to.”
10: Your Child is Known
Perhaps the most telling benefit of independent-school education is that your child is known. Small class sizes allow personal relationships between students and teachers rooted in student learning and growth. A tight-knit community of students promotes support among students and provides lasting friendships, regardless of background. Your child’s uniqueness will be celebrated, not stifled. Your child’s emotional and social growth is foundational to his or her experience at an independent school.
Considering Your Options
Although most independent-school graduates state that their educational experiences were life-changing, attending an independent school is not always the right choice for each student. It is important to consider your options, tour schools of interest, connect with other parents and ask questions to understand whether or not your child should attend an independent school.
If you are interested in learning more about The New School, visit our admissions page. We encourage all families considering The New School to schedule a private tour with our admissions office to learn more about our educational programs, student life, tuition, financial aid, scholarship opportunities, mission, vision and values.