Alternative schooling is a broad category, one that can be divided into several specific approaches to learning. From age-specific schools to teen military schools, alternative education spans a range of value systems, classroom structures and opinions on the most productive teaching methods. In fact, the one thing that all private schools have in common is their departure from many of the tenets of mainstream education. Learn a little bit about what some popular types of alternative schools can offer and what their limitations are before you decide on the right alternative education program for your child.
Montessori programs and Waldorf schools are among the most familiar types of alternative schools. It is immediately clear how Montessori schools depart from the traditional education system: instead of the teacher-led curriculum that can result in a one-sided approach to learning, Montessori students are given full control of their learning. The teacher, although present and very qualified, acts more like a guide than a taskmaster, and many parents believe that this nurturing environment fosters greater learning.
A Waldorf school focuses on learning through imagination, and the curriculum consists of a variety of conceptual and artistic activities. There is a great deal of freedom for the students to develop emotionally, morally and analytically, and a Waldorf education can stretch from pre-school to secondary school, addressing a variety of important phases of maturity with its unique principles. Furthermore, it can take place in a traditional classroom environment or be included in a home schooling curriculum.
Given the assortment of alternative education that's available, it can be difficult to determine precisely which will be the best path for your child. School is an incredibly important part of life and development, so making the right choice now can affect the future in a big way.
In some cases, it seems that one type of school is perfectly suited to your situation. Military school, for instance, can seem like a beacon of light for parents who struggle with a defiant child. However, even though alternative high schools and alternative elementary schools may offer some great advantages, they are not automatic solutions and may not bring the changes you're after. Remember that, while school is a central part of development, there are many aspects of life that must work in tandem to produce growth and self-awareness. Make sure you address all those areas to resolve any issues.
If you are uncertain as to which type of private school or boarding school is right for your child, you may want to look into summer camps for kids that are built around specific subjects or educational principles. Whether it's a subject-specific program like filmmaking or a more general agenda to help struggling kids improve their self-esteem and academic confidence, the freedom, fun and fresh air of an outdoor classroom may be just what your child needs to widen their perspective and help them grow.