The sheer definition of a "non-traditional" school is constantly
evolving. It's a classification that can, in fact, mean something
different to every parent, teacher and administrator. Yet, what
stays the same is the unified desire for these innovative schools
to offer something new and different to a whole new generation of
From languages to sports to music instruction, the benefits of a
non-traditional school offering a non-traditional curriculum are
many. "Most parents choose our school because not only do they
learn everything that they would learn somewhere else academically,
but they also learn another language at the same time," explains
Maria Fermi, founder of Music and Language School in Oak Park. "Not
only do these students get proficient in the language at a young
age, but they come out with experience in music."
Mi Sol Academy also offers a variety of language immersion
programs for students ages 3-6. "Learning a second language not
only gives students the ability to communicate with different
ethnic groups, but the exposure to other cultures cultivates more
of an acceptance of others," adds M. Erika Camarna, director and
lead teacher. "And years from now, these are the students whose
career choice will be that much more expansive."
And while the ability to learn a new language is just one of the
many examples of the benefits of non-traditional schools, there
also is the fact that these added features often have a
supplemental effect on the student's other studies. "Music has a
way of supplementing many other sorts of learning," says Erin Fusco
of the Music Institute of Chicago, which offers a variety of
classes to students of all ages. "Many studies have shown that
music studies can help people greatly with not only their math and
analytical skills, but also their concentration skills in
And with obesity levels still on the rise, the staff at Chalk
Preschool has gone so far as to even expand their physical
education offerings. "We recently partnered with the My Gym
franchise to offer their classes each day right here in our
classrooms," explains Angela Johnson, executive director at Chalk.
"We look farther than the educational aspect of what we can offer
to our students. Rather, we are all about serving the whole
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