The right fit

Is an independent school a good place for your child?

When child finds the right school, it should almost feel like fate.

Someone asks the question of why parents should choose a specific independent school for their child and Michael Kennedy has the answer. The school fits the child, says Kennedy, principal at March Academy.

“At March Academy,” says Kennedy, “we focus on learning and meeting the child where they are. Because [our school is] so small, our staff has more opportunities to interact with each child, understand where they are and know when to push forward or reach back and hone in on how they learn.” And because the classes are smaller, there is more support for the child and staff has more opportunities to interact. “The smaller classes also ensure that a child doesn’t get lost in the crowd,” says Kennedy, “and it allows each child to stretch and push themselves at their own speed.” The school operates at a more relaxed pace and that allows for more flexibility for each child. “If a student is in the middle of an assignment, they’re not going to be interrupted by the bell — they can finish what they are doing,” says Kennedy. “And although students might be working on the same book, we can assign different projects for each child based on their individual needs. For example, some students might benefit from studying the vocabulary and others might investigate the themes of the novel. Just-right learning for each student is key for March Academy.”

Consistent communication with parents and constant support for children are two of the cornerstones of St. Laurent Academy, where, says principal Tim Mook Sang, “we pride ourselves on our accountability. If we say we are going to do something, we do it. There is very little bureaucracy at St. Laurent, so we can get things done immediately.” The small class size also allows for that consistent and constant communication to both the student and the parents. “We make sure that parents have plenty of access to their child’s teachers,” says Mook Sang. “If parents email a question, they get a prompt response.” And he says the school’s teachers provide excellent support and important individual attention to each student.

“I just couldn’t find the right fit for our family in the regular school programs,” says Erin Anderson, principal and owner of Revel Academy, “so I started my own.”

Anderson had been teaching before she had her own children and did a bit of home schooling but needed and wanted more for her children. “Revel Academy is very flexible,” says Anderson. “It’s about the learner. We empower them to take ownership of their education, focus on their strengths, and learn to think critically. Children need to have the opportunity to make decisions for themselves, take risks for deeper learning, and have their voice and opinions be heard.” Anderson also wanted to create a love of learning and keep that flexible too. “If a student wanted to do a speech on a subject instead of an essay, well that’s great,” says Anderson. “It’s still learning but just outside the box. That’s a good thing.”

As a parent, Amy R. wanted her children’s education to be different but she also wanted a smaller class size. She found both at Revel Academy. “I went through the public system,” says Amy, who requested that her last name be withheld, “but I just wanted something for my sons where the teaching focused on what they are good at, what they need of, and not just ticking off boxes.” She also liked the multi-age learning environment that Revel offered and the real-world experiences the children participated in. “My son really enjoyed dealing with the older children — he found it a good challenge,” says Amy. “They got exposure to real things, like money and opening a business. And classmates can and do ask each other for help. It’s an excellent way to learn together.”

So, is an independent school the right ‘fit’ for your child? As Kennedy says, “each school is different and the reasons for a fit will be different as well. But if flexibility and small class size are priorities, then an independent school could be a good fit for your child.”


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