How many times have we heard it said by some well-meaning parent, “If only my child would do as well as I know he can do.” Or, “I know she can do better than the grades she gets!” It is certainly frustrating when you realize your child’s ability, yet something hinders that student from fully realizing it.
Removing learning barriers is the key to helping students optimize their learning potential. Private schools, by their very set up and structure, are free from some of the inherent barriers that inhibit students who attend public school. Let’s look at three typical barriers to learning and how private schools minimize or remove those barriers.
The University of California, Irvine completed research that brought to light new findings in regards to stress and learning. In past studies, researchers determined chronic stress affects learning and memory, but now new data indicates even “short-term stress, lasting as little as a few hours, can also impair brain-cell communication in these critical areas.” Richard L. Hall, PhD, teacher for more than three decades defines the stress students face as overwhelming. Several factors contribute to students feeling stressed out some of which are “academic pressure,” too much on their plate to juggle, and inadequate sleep.
Peer pressure is a common problem in larger schools. Students group together in cliques and pressure lower-status students to conform to inappropriate behavior. However, the consequences don’t stop there, studies show students who are negatively pressured by peers actually perform lower on tests, as well.
Lack of support for the Gifted
Many gifted students may lack support for one of two reasons:
- They are not identified. With teachers having sometimes twenty-five students in the classroom, the gifted student may go unnoticed.
- The academic program in place for gifted students does not keep the student stimulated. This could be due to class size, structure, or academic material.
When gifted students don’t receive the support required to feed their intellect, then a break down in learning occurs.
How does a private school minimize or remove these barriers?
Reduced stress for students
Although parents may be partially responsible for placing academic pressure on students that leads to stress, the more teacher-student interaction there is, the less stress there is likely to be. A private school allows teachers to work closely with students; some schools even have a one-on-one ratio. A teacher, who is working that closely with the student, will notice stress levels and can diffuse it before causing potential problems. In large public schools, students may feel stressed by the sheer size. This is especially true for shy students.
Reduction of peer pressure
In a private school setting, class size and school attendance are much smaller than public school; this leads to a feeling of kinship among the students. The student body becomes one tight-knit group instead of fractured cliques. The atmosphere of camaraderie dispels peer pressure; everyone looks out for each other. Learning can bloom in this atmosphere.
Easier identification of giftedness
Teachers in a private school setting have fewer students under their care. This allows them to do what they love most – teach with passion. As they work closely with their students in a nurturing environment, they gauge a student’s gifts and talents. Teachers spend as much time or more with the students than even the parents spend, therefore do become very familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. Identifying a gifted or talented student early, allows teachers to modify the curriculum in ways not possible in a public school environment.
Your child’s school years are a time for learning. If barriers hinder your student from reaching his or her full potential, maybe it is time to look closer at a private school. Children are by nature intrinsically curious and love to learn. At Tenney School, we love to watch children blossom in our nurturing environment that cultivates the joy of learning. If you would like more information on the benefits of a private school, please contact us today!