Originally published in BizWest • January 8, 2016
As parents continue to look for the right “fit” in a school for their children, they are increasingly turning to independent schools, including the 22 members of the Boulder Area Consortium of Independent Schools (BACIS). These schools are thriving by providing the right fit by providing a quality, individualized education to children of families who want more from what their current or neighborhood school can offer.
Research shows that the decision by parents as to where to send their children to school are primarily based the perceived value that they will receive. In a recent publication, Independent School Management (ISM) released a report that affirmed the three hallmarks that lead parents to choose a school: a safe, caring community, academic outcomes and well-defined guiding values, mission, and leadership.
Private schools enjoy a valued independence from the highly structured curricula and extended testing found in public schools and are generally better able to challenge, support and meet the needs of each individual student. They strive to assure that each student reaches his or her own potential.
Whether you have a “gifted and talented” student, a special-needs student or a student who just doesn’t thrive in a traditional setting, independent schools, such as those in BACIS (www.bacis.org) are worth serious consideration. Smaller class sizes, outstanding education, strong communities and individualized approach – coupled with mission-driven educational programs – separate independent schools from public ones.
Area private schools offer a wide range of programs supporting classical, creative, to differentiated learning; from experiential, expeditionary, and exceptional to gifted; from Montessori to Waldorf structure; performing arts, and progressive to traditional college prep. What they all have in common is that they provide options, which reflect the best fit for each student, and a family’s personal values.
Small Class Sizes
- From preschool through high school, small class sizes assure that a student has a stronger educational experience and one that is personal within a community.
- Small classes allow students the freedom to work collaboratively with, and care about, other students.
- Teachers can better challenge and support children at their individual pace.
- Most parents desire a school for their children that have a strong and effective curriculum, as well as committed and knowledgeable teachers.
- They generally prefer a school that challenges their child, inspires them to be successful, develops independent thinking, and has the ability to open doors for their children – whether it’s middle school, college, or beyond.
- Most children in private schools perform above grade level.
- The close friendships and strong teacher relationships that develop in most independent schools often last a lifetime, and are cited as having a significant impact on a child’s self-confidence and drive.
- Parents want schools that provide a safe environment, and one that builds character, teaches values, and supports children socially, emotionally, as well as academically.
- Individualized, or differentiated, education helps to assure that there is a plan in place to develop every aspect of each child’s needs.
- Individualized content or approaches help each student to excel at the pace that is appropriate for them.
- In a smaller community, caring teachers and staff are able to understand and support each student’s personal growth and development. No child slips through the cracks.
Partnerships with Parents
- Parents are a child’s first teacher, and the staff at independent schools values and enhances those first lessons.
- Smaller school communities make it easier for staff and families to develop meaningful relationships.
- Independent school communities team with parents to work together to understand and to provide the best possible program for each student.
Most schools offer enrollment options throughout the year as well as competitive tuition and assistance packages. Many also offer fun educational summer programs.
As you search for your child’s first or next school, take a look at Boulder area private school options. Visit the BACIS website, www.bacis.org, to find a school that reflects your values, fits your child, and has a mission that speaks to you. Then schedule a visit and tour. No website or ad can reflect the character of a school more than during a one-on-one personal visit.
Colleen Krueger is director of marketing and communications at Mountain Shadows Montessori School. Michael Greenberg is director of operations at Broomfield Academy.