Everyone agrees that early education is important to getting a child’s future off to a good start, and choosing private education for your child comes with a few extra “pros,” local educators says.
Whether it’s small class size, a nurturing family environment or the ability for teachers to foster the love of learning, many families choose private school as a way to enhance the learning of their littlest family members.
Here are some pros from educators from around the Chicagoland area:
- One positive aspect of having your child in a private early education facility is that teachers are free to focus on a child’s social-emotional development, not just their academic growth, says Sarah Cudnik, owner/executive director of Kids’ Work Chicago.
Social-emotional development is equally important, if not more so, to meeting academic standards at an early age, she says. In addition to helping a child grow socially and emotionally, teachers have the freedom to create an individualized plan for supporting the growth of the whole child, including his or her educational advancement.
- Private education in the early years lets educators create a warm, nurturing environment in which students can grow and thrive, says Heidi Cooper, director of early childhood education at Temple Sholom of Chicago. While public school focuses on standards, private education can flourish by offering things like play-based learning and fostering a warm, family atmosphere.
“The feedback we get is that the Jewish preschool is a warm, nurturing environment. Our teachers love children, and our parents love that we include things like celebrating the Jewish holidays and songs. There is really a warm, loving, nurturing environment,” she says.
- A significant benefit to parents who choose to send their children to a private school is ratio of students to teachers, says Kevin O’Brien, director of Mary Meyer School in Chicago. “At Mary Meyer School, we have three full-time teachers and a part-time studio artist with a typical class size of 18 students. That means at any given time there are six students for each teacher,” he says. The recommendations from the National Association for the Education of Young Children is a 9:1 ratio. This allows students to develop their social emotional and critical cognitive skills, he says.
- One of the benefits of private early education is the small class size, says Phillip Jackson, head of school for Chicago Grammar School. “One of the most precious benefits of private early education at the Chicago Grammar School is the ability for children to develop their mindset about school, learning and exploring in a small classroom with thoughtful teachers,” he says.
Having a small number of children to work with, the teacher can develop a deeper relationship with each child, he says. “The teacher has the time to listen, question and encourage them in a way that shows the child that what he or she thinks truly matters. … Children who really believe that their teachers care personally about them will let themselves be pushed to the challenge. They are more willing to re-think, re-draw, re-write. I have seen too many children educated in the “herd” who end up thinking school is about memorizing study guides and taking tests.”
- A private school can nurture the enthusiasm of young learners and expand on and refine the things they learned in their toddler years, says Linda C. Whitehead, senior advisor for education and development for Bright Horizons Family Solutions, which offers child care, preschool and early education in Oak Brook and Chicago. “A strong preschool curriculum will guide children as they develop school readiness…. Programs that are filled with opportunities for investigation, experimentation and discovery, have purposefully designed environments and offer meaningful learning experiences will help children reach their greatest potential,” she says.
“Look for (schools) that teach beginning reading and writing skills, math and science concepts, offer opportunities to develop large and small muscles, and guide social and emotional development.”