What to Look For in an Independent School
Our advice to these families is to explore these seven topics when evaluating an independent school (or a charter school or public school). For many students, Monday mornings bring excitement. However, for others they bring a mixture of emotions. We often hear from parents with students in other schools with concerns about their current experience. Research shows there are a variety of reasons parents choose independent schools. Frequently parents call us looking for a new, safe, home for their students. By all means, the right school will nurture a child’s love of learning and joy of life.
Are the values of the school consistent with your personal and family values? Additionally, when you first walk into a school, what is that experience like for you? Does it feel calm? Does it feel energizing? Is it welcoming? Does it feel safe? Do you want to be there? How do the students show up? In other words, are the school’s values demonstrated by the environment?
Small Class Sizes & Personalized Lessons
For students who excel in academics, how is the school able to challenge them at a pace that allows them to continue to learn and grow? Meanwhile, meeting the needs of others in the class? How are lessons differentiated for students that have different needs? How do lessons motivate growth mindset and achievement?
Character & Leadership integrated in curriculum
Mental health issues and awareness is the rise in Colorado and throughout the US. Accordingly, school curriculum is adapting to incorporate more social emotional learning (SEL) to foster resilience. Does the independent school address SEL? Or is it woven into their ethos and classroom curriculum? How does it foster thriving students, who are creating their own positive and purposeful lives? How are students supported in learning leadership of self and others?
Safety & Support Services
For students who have experienced bullying, they find that our values and support services reinforce an environment where students are celebrated and encouraged. How does the school support and equip students beyond character and leadership? How does the school support safety for students and faculty? Additionally, in what ways is the school proactive in creating a safe environment?
A differentiator for independent schools is the support for students and parents. When an issue arises, is it treated as a learning opportunity? Furthermore, are students given a chance to better understand the situation? As well as creating a plan for themselves moving forward?
Research shows that parent involvement results in higher attendance, higher grades, higher test scores, better social skills, improved behavior, and more. Does the school welcome parents as volunteers? How does the school cultivate community beyond student activities? Is there a system or process in place for parents to get involved?
Continuity of Learning
As a result of the global pandemic, 30 million students were taken out of schools in the US. For this reason, several schools opted to create a virtual experience for their students. What does remote learning look like for the school? Is the independent school able to support the academic, social, and emotional needs of students online? Is instruction synchronous or asynchronous? Under those circumstances, are teachers able to make personal connections with students?
Finding a learning environment for your student to excel will not only foster their love for learning, but give them the confidence to grow and succeed.
Contact Aspen Academy for more information.
“My husband and I couldn’t be happier with our decision to move our son…In the public school setting, he was a number in the classroom…He is inspired and motivated by the teachers and approach to learning at Aspen, and has developed more of a genuine love of learning. We also have noticed a change in his attitude, and that he has become more accountable for owning his success.”