It’s easy to see the value of small schools if you first look at the problems of large schools and class sizes.
In large classroom settings, it is extremely difficult for a teacher to meet the unique demands of any one person’s education. The curriculum is rigidly structured for a broad student base. As large schools try to offer the prime class selection each semester, there are inevitably class schedule conflicts, and if your family has a unique schedule it makes the school schedule particularly challenging. Students in larger educational settings are more likely to get lost in the crowd or to feel like they are just a number. In the effort to create one classroom for several students, environmental control for students with allergies or sensitivities is extremely difficult.
A well-educated, talented teacher is constantly assessing student needs and interest and analyzing student performance. The smaller schools often offer a smaller student-to-teacher ratio, giving teachers a better chance to accurately assess needs and progress and empowering students to communicate directly with the teacher concerning their own learning.
Flexibility of curriculum and structure
Small schools can more easily tailor curriculum to the interests and needs of specific students. The curriculum is much more likely to be truly student-centered and teachers may structure the learning in respect to the students’ natural learning rhythms.
Smaller class sizes reduce the potential for scheduling conflicts between classes as well as between the class schedule and the family schedule. Ample time is available for practical, experiential learning. Extra-curricular programs and activities may be offered within a time frame that suits each family’s needs.
Setting the appropriate environment for learning is important to the potential success for each student. In smaller schools, the physical environment may be manipulated to suit the needs of those present, whether it’s for visual aids, specialized seating, manipulative learning tools or lighting.
The interactions of teachers and students in larger schools is necessarily restricted by time limitations. Students in smaller schools can easily manage to get the teachers’ attention as necessary. They may ask questions or discuss topics more thoroughly, as well as talk about individual interests and build trusting, education-oriented relationships.
The more quickly students receive feedback on their work, the more sense it makes to them. With smaller classes, teachers can quickly assess student progress, discuss issues and offer suggestions. The immediacy of the analysis keeps the topic fresh in the minds of teachers and students and offers a continuous flow of learning.
Some students need more encouragement than others and most of us need more in some areas and less in others. With smaller schools, administrators know their staff and students better and can readily adapt the kind of nurturing offered throughout the building.
Besides nurturing, students also need to be challenged to stretch beyond their comfort levels. Teachers in small classes can identify each student’s comfort zone and offer just enough opportunity for reaching beyond it, so the student is not overwhelmed, but constantly encouraged to achieve a higher standard or to try new things.
Assessments are important tools for education. They come in many different forms. In smaller schools and classrooms, assessments may include familiar paper-pencil tests or they may include hands-on or interactive assessments. The perspective and purpose for assessing may differ as well. In schools with higher populations, assessments may be viewed simply as hurdles to jump to get the class through a set curriculum. With smaller schools, assessments are more readily used to guide the next steps in the learning progression. Detected weak areas may easily be addressed and certain key points or topics may be reviewed or re-taught as needed.
Students in smaller schools often get to know all of their peers, allowing them to form strong and lasting bonds. They also learn important social skills such as conflict resolution.
The Tenney School proudly offers a unique learning opportunity: one teacher to one student. Please contact us today for more information about our one-on-one classes to ensure the best education for your student in the Houston area.