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 students.
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 general."
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 child."
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