VOL17 ISS2 2017

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THE ORIGINAL RELOCATION GUIDE — TRIANGLE NC | VOLUME 17 — ISSUE 2 90 INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS Independent School Options BY STUART JAMES For many parents today, decisions regarding their child's education are among the most stressful they will make. The public school system has come along way with many new and upgraded facilities and positive initiatives. Then, there is the perception that many independent schools are too expensive to be a viable option. However, if you take the time do some re- search, you will find that many area independent schools are very affordable and offer unparalleled educational opportunities for your children. In fact, more and more parents these days are choos- ing to educate their kids in independent schools. Accord- ing to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), today more than 2,000 independent private schools across the United States provide high-quality educations to more than 700,000 students from pre-K through high school. So, just what makes an independent school "inde- pendent?" Independent schools are private learning institutions governed by independent boards of trust- ees. They are not mandated, managed or financed by the state. Most are funded through tuition payments and charitable contributions. Independent schools include elementary and second- ary schools, day and boarding schools, and single-sex and co-educational schools. Some independent schools are religion-based and others are not. Some independent schools are theme-based or teach children based on cer- tain educational methodologies. The reasons so many parents are opting for indepen- dent school educations for their kids are numerous and diverse. As we know, some children are able to perform and thrive in any environment, while others require more specialized instruction. Independent schools are close-knit communities that provide students with indi- vidualized attention. They challenge students to evolve into responsible and community-oriented citizens. Only the individual school's mission and the agencies that accredit them govern the curriculum that children and teens in independent schools follow. They don't have to follow state guidelines or tests that are mandated by state governments. Independent schools teachers can use unique educational methods and experiences that are specific to each child's needs without having to use mandated teaching methods or techniques. There are many approaches to education, and finding a school that matches your child's penchant for learn- ing can really make a difference in the education he or she receives. For example, there is the student-directed learning method of Montessori, or the arts-based cur- riculum of a Waldorf school. Choosing the right learning method for your child will not only allow him or her to thrive in a supportive environment and build independence, but will also allow them to gain unique skills and experiences. Small classroom settings in independent schools allow teachers more flexibility in choosing curricula and materials that address the unique learning needs of their individual stu- dents. Another major advantage of independent schools is that your child will likely be held to a higher academic standard. Independent schools can be more academically challenging than public schools, and private school students may have to work harder keep their grades up. Also, independent schools make it difficult for children to shy away from challenges or get lost in the shuffle. In fact, according the NAIS, independent school graduates are more apt to complete college than are their public school educated peers. Another advantage is that independent schools are built around open communications between parents and admin- istration, and they make it a priority to involve parents in the community. In independent schools, the atmosphere is one of cooperation and collaboration. Safety for children at school is also of paramount impor- tance, and independent schools have reputations for main- taining high standards for discipline and respect. Lower teacher-to-student ratios allow for more effective control of school grounds. The strong sense of community discourages dangerous behavior. The discipline students learn also im- proves rates for success in college when they are in control of their class attendance and achievement. So, as you can see, there are many advantages to choos- ing an independent school education for your child. Be sure to visit many of the fine independent schools in your area to find that one that is the best fit for your child. []

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