Alternatives To Public Schools: How To Start Your Gifted Child In The Independent School System
When your child is not being challenged at public school, it can be difficult for them to reach their full potential. If you feel like a public school is no longer the right fit for your gifted child, you may want to consider enrolling him or her in an independent (or “private”) school.
What is an Independent School: Independent schools are not governed by a school board, but by a private board of trustees. Unlike public schools and charter schools, they do not take any public funds, and therefore are independent from any political affiliations. This means that independent schools are free to dedicate themselves to their goals and mission statements. For gifted students, this can mean that they may find an independent school that will challenge them and let them learn at their own accelerated pace.
How to find the right school for your child: When looking for an independent school to challenge your gifted child, you may want to first speak to the teachers and specialists that have worked with your child at their existing school. These people know your child and may have good ideas about where he or she will learn best. In addition to speaking with your child’s teachers, you should also do your own research. The National Association of Independent Schools is a valuable resource. Over 1,300 of the approximately 2,000 independent schools in America are members of the NAIS. Their website can help you find the school that’s right for you. You may also want to look into the Educational Records Bureau (ERB), which is affiliated with over 2,000 independent schools. Once you find your independent school of choice, you can inquire about their individual application process and get started.
Admissions Testing: Many independent schools, and particularly those that accept more gifted children, will require an entrance exam as part of your application process. The Secondary Schools Admissions Test or SSAT, and the Independent Schools Entrance Exam or ISEE, are the most commonly used entrance exams for independent schools. The ISEE exam is governed by the ERB. The ERB has a wealth of information on their website about the ISEE test, including practice questions and study tips. In addition to your own independent preparation, you may find it worth your time, effort, and money to send your child through a prep course for the ISEE or SSAT exams. Your child’s exam scores may determine the future of their education. There are test prep courses available in classrooms or online, and these courses can be very helpful in calming your child’s nerves and helping him or her do their best on the exam. A company like Learning Encounters Inc. can give you more information about prep courses for these tests.
Making the change from public to independent schooling may seem like a daunting test, but it is a wonderful way to be sure that your gifted student receives every challenge and opportunity that they need in order to succeed.