In today’s world, parents have an overwhelming number of decisions to make for their children. Chief among them is the type of school that will be the right fit for their child. From public school programs to language immersion, Montessori, online and parochial schools, just to name a few, parents may wonder what the benefits of each teaching philosophy are and how each might serve their child. Cincinnati Parent has rounded up a list of schooling options to help parents make an informed decision.
Traditional public school
Traditional public schools are divided into grades and governed by school districts. Generally, there is a teacher-driven delivery of instruction covering core subjects, such as math, reading, writing, science and social studies. But public schools today aren’t quite the public schools of your youth. Today’s public schools offer a wide variety of teaching methods and philosophies, from virtual to language immersion.
“Cincinnati Public Schools is growing, and that’s because we offer innovative, tuition-free programs,” says Lauren Worley, chief communications and engagement officer for Cincinnati Public Schools.
Magnet schools are public schools that offer specialized instruction and programs. Schools draw from students across the traditional districts to attract a diverse student body. “Cincinnati Public Schools is home to nine magnet programs offering specialized instruction programs, including Montessori and Paideia methods, and content focused on the arts, elementary college preparatory, fundamental, gifted, online STEM, and world languages and cultures,” Worley says.
Around since the 1990s, charter schools are independently operated public schools formed by parents, teachers, community organizations or for-profit companies. Charter schools receive tax dollars but may also fundraise on their own, and they operate with freedom from some of the regulations of traditional public schools. Charter schools are open to all students and are free to attend.
Language immersion schools
In the United States, there are two common types of immersion education: one-way foreign language immersion and two-way (dual) foreign language immersion. One-way programs consist of a majority of students that have little to no proficiency in the immersion language, and exposure to the immersion language takes place primarily in the school and classroom. In two-way immersion programs, the student population consists of both majority and minority language speakers. (For example, a two-way program in the U.S. may consist of half English speakers and half Spanish speakers.) In two-way classrooms, a 1:1 ratio is ideal and students learn from and with each other in an integrated setting.
A Paideia school is committed to the Paideia approach to learning, which stems from ancient Greece. The approach is holistic and prepares kids to live full lives in a democracy by using open, intellectual and collaborative dialogue. With the Paideia approach, also called the Socratic Method, the teacher acts as the facilitator and guides students into meaningful dialogue. The Paideia philosophy may be taught in a public school or in a private school that focuses on the Paideia approach.
Religious education has either a religious component to its curriculum or exists to teach students about a certain religion. Raymond C. Kochis, superintendent at Cincinnati Christian Schools, says that the curriculum at his school is “fashioned in such a manner that students see their world and study their academic content through the lens of Scripture.” Students at Cincinnati Christian Schools receive an education in which “the whole educational experience [is framed] with a biblical worldview as the foundation for everything that the students experience throughout the school day,” Kochis says.
Waldorf education is based on the insights, teachings and principles of education outlined by Rudolf Steiner. Waldorf education is independent and inclusive, and integrates the arts into all academic disciplines. Waldorf teachers aim to inspire an enthusiasm for learning in their students. The Waldorf philosophy does not use competitive testing, academic placement or reward to motivate learning, instead allowing motivation to rise within each child.
The Montessori method of education is a child-based and hands-on method of learning that also incorporates collaborative play. Because Montessori schools value community, classrooms may be a bit larger than at traditional schools and include children within a three-year age span. The older children act as models to the younger students. Montessori schools teach the same basic skills as traditional schools but they are presented in an integrated way, bringing the subjects together into one curriculum. The Montessori method was developed by Maria Montessori and is based on her scientific observations of children.
Online (virtual) schools allow students to receive an education entirely or primarily through the Internet. Public schools, charter schools and other state agencies often provide online schools, but private online schools also exist. Online schools serve all kinds of students, including those with limited mobility, students traveling overseas, or students who just work best in a home environment.
Reggio Emilia schools
Focusing on preschool and primary school students, Reggio Emilia schools provide a self-directed and experiential learning environment that is relationship-driven. The physical environment of the classroom is very important in Reggio Emilia schools. Schools generally incorporate natural light, indoor plants, organic materials and beautiful décor. Another important piece of Reggio Emilia schooling is recorded student progress. Teachers methodically record the large and small accomplishments of each child.