The need to understand each child’s learning profile is of critical importance when selecting a school. Depending on the level of support a student needs, the differences between private and public schools can be considerable. Understanding the support available can help families make informed decisions and can set their child up for long –term academic success.
It is no surprise that the number of students that are being evaluated and diagnosed has increased dramatically. The National Association of Independent Schools (2016) stated that over the past 30 years, more and more independent schools have established academic support programs and learning centers to address their students’ individualized learning needs. Independent schools have made great strides to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse group of learners.
When making a school choice for a student who has identified learning support needs, it is essential that you do
not settle for a quick visit. Make sure that you are approaching campus visits in such a way that you can adequately discern the differences across schools relative to the learning support they will provide. Elizabeth Hall of Hall Educational Resources recommends using the 5 W’s of Learning Support to help make informed choices. These include:
Who “owns” the learning support? Who delivers the learning support? Who makes the decisions regarding accommodations? Who is credentialed with special education certifications?
What kind of support is available? What does it look like at each grade level? What kind of communication will you receive from the school specialist? What are the cost associated? What is the differentiating factor(s) in the school learning support services? What is the school’s philosophy in supporting students who learn differently?
Where do students’ receive their learning support? Where is the link between the student’s classroom teachers and the academic/learning support teacher?
4. WHENWhen do students access their learning support? When do you know if a student needs more or less support? When do you provide regular feedback on goals and objectives, session content, progress or lack thereof?
Why do kids like or dislike the learning support center? Why would we want to send our child here? Why are you (or aren’t you) using assistive technology? Why do students benefit from learning support?
There are many factors that contribute to a student’s success in a private school environment. Knowing which questions to ask that are specific to your child’s needs will help guide you towards making the right decision for your child.