Our two boys are currently at a government private school where the older one is doing all right and the younger one is very unhappy.
We haev been very dissatisfied with the standard of teaching in terms of literacy and numeracy but have been told that that is how it is done in NZ ( we are immigrants).
We were considering extending our mortgage to pay for our boys to go to a private school where the Cambridge syllabus is offered as my husband and I were both schooled in that more academic, teacher-centred style and felt our boys would benefit from it. However I have been researching more alternative schools like Rudolph Steiner and begun wondering if that would be a better fit, if what they say regarding their philosophy actually translates into the classroom! What appeals to me is that children are encouraged to learn to take responsibility for their learning and to THINK...and as I type this I realise that maybe that is the complete opposite of what a more structured Cambridge syllabus would offer them. I am so confused. We even considered homeschooling them because of our dissatisfaction with their current school but I am so fearful of doing that, I think I doubt myself and dont know if I coudl do it, it seems such a drastic decision, maybe I am afraid of what others think.
Has anyone had experience like this or with any of the types of schools I have mentioned? I would be so grateful for any response.
Which type of schooling depends on the child. Steiner would have been my preference if it was available to me at the time, but my son is very visual spatial and would suit him, not competitive not strongly focussed on academic achievement.
Other students who are more sequential may benefit from more structure and traditional methods.
May be shot down by others for this superficial interpretation but that is my experience of the schooling and my sons needs.
Basis moral assess the child and meet their learning style. Home, Steiner, Cambridge will work if it fits.
I hear the same things that you are saying from many immigrant parents that I know, so you are not alone in thinking this. I also feel the literacy and numeracy are inadequately taught, particularly in primary school. I use tutors to teach numeracy and literacy so that they get a good grounding in those and I consider anything that they may learn at school to be a bonus. I know that seems a rather cynical approach but it works for us. Many of the immigrant parents I know do this too.
An example of what I mean is that I was horrified by the lack of English language teaching at my child's primary school. Spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, grammar - all seemed to be absent from the classroom. I saw published work where not one sentence was grammatically correct - and this was not commented on or corrected by the teacher. After sending my child to a tutor at least I know that all of this is being taught, school serves a social function to a large extent, rather than an academic one as the academic work gets done outside school.
I have a child doing Cambridge (at a secondary level) and although it is structured, he most certainly has to take responsibility for his learning and think.
Don't make the mistake of assuming that a private school will give a better education. Private education in NZ is not the same as overseas. Sometimes they offer reduced choices. Choose a school on it's own merits. You MUST thoroughly interview the school, the principal and meet as many teachers, head of departments as they'll give you access to. What programs do they run? What extension opportunities do they offer? What resources do they have? What are there academic results? What is the bullying policy and is it backed up in the playground?
A happy child with good parental support will do well at most schools, but some families do end up sending their children to two different schools.
Yes indeed, we now have two at private schools (for various reasons) and I have very mixed feeling about value. My sibling's childen went to state schools, went on to tertiary education, and are happy and successful adults. I'd like to add do not believe what you are told on "Open Days" , they are a sales pitch by the school to prospective parents. My daughter was a "school guide". In answer to a question about bullying replied that all schools had bullying but that her school tried to do something about it. (Not actually her experience but she was trying to be positive). The prospective parent must have said something because dd was taken off the roster. So ask around the area, private school fees will pay for a lot of fabulous family experiences and plenty of extra tuition.
Janet is right - just because a school is private does not mean it will automatically be significantly better - some absolutely are, some aren't.
Different schools suit different children - be prepared to really check out a school, ask about its bullying policy and for examples [what action has been taken in the past by the school]. What do they offer gifted or twice exceptionsl students and what sort of learner support is available.
This last question is one of the most telling [ once you wade through the marketing you may well find this is the area that the prospective school falls down in]. I find that some schools respond really well to suggestions for assistance or special conditions I make for a child while others are more inclined towards viewing the recommendations as ' only if they fit our system', without looking at how they could use the system to best fit the child's needs. Others do this very, very well - Senior College certainly does.
The research shows that although we start children fairly gently and many assume we don't do literacy or numeracy very well in the early years - once they are in the high school years our kids are often ranking at a very high level for both literacy and numeracy. It is also unfortunatley true that for those who aren't doing so well we aren't so good at helping them - we have a 20% tail of kids who don't succeed with literacy.
Decide whether your child is artistically focussed, does better with internal or exam type structures and try to look at a school that best matches your childs strengths. You may also consider having them assessed because uneven ability profiles and performance can often lead to frustrations and difficulties that could well be mitigated if not fixed if they were looked at by a suitable professional. An underperforming gifted child can be a very frustrated gifted child. Lastly, look for a school that keeps in honest contact and regualrly and frequently monitors prgress with a view to altering plans in response to these findings - some monitor a lot but then tell students they need to try harder rather than seeing that the topic may need re-teaching.