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  • Stephen Rubenacker

Choosing the Right Independent School for Your Child

Updated: Apr 3, 2020

5 Things You Might Not Have Considered When Picking the Right Independent School

The choices a parent has to make when it comes to their child’s education can be overwhelming.  Just deciding to send them to an independent school instead of a public one can take weeks and months of research and hand-wringing. But once that decision is made, you’re all set, right?

Well, not quite. The next phase is to find the right independent school, and there are likely a number of options available to choose from.

What’s most important to you? Do you need a school that’s close to home? Are you willing to go a few extra miles in order to stay within your budget? While proximity and cost are two of the biggest concerns, there are other factors to weigh when choosing the right independent school for your child. Here are five key considerations:

1. Consider Your Practical Needs Start with the must-haves...the requirements a school needs to meet to even be in the running. Are you looking for a boarding school? All-boys or all-girls school? Is religious instruction mandatory? Say you want a day school? How far is too far? Do you plan on dropping off and picking up yourself or using district provided transportation? Will you need before or after-care? Does your child have any physical, emotional or academic needs? If a school you’re researching can’t meet your practical needs, knock it off your list. 

2. Identify Your Child’s Goals  Next, consider your child’s personality, strengths and weaknesses. You know them better than anyone. Do they excel in a smaller or larger classroom setting? Do they prefer a traditional or alternative approach to learning? Investigate the school’s methodology. Do the teachers offer one-on-one instruction or teach to larger groups? Is high school prep a priority? How is technology used to support their instruction? Understanding what level of academic difficulty and what kind of setting suits your child best will go a long way towards finding the right school for them.

3. Make Sure Their Unique Programming Is a Fit  Have a couple of schools that are running neck-and-neck? Extracurricular programs may be the deciding factor. Strong arts programs, sports and clubs not only enhance your application profile, they are integral to a well-rounded school experience. At The Bridges Academy, for example, we offer unique club offerings such as chess, robotics, dance, greenhouse, theater, sketching and interscholastic sports.   Measure what extracurricular programs each school has to offer and see which ones best align with your child’s talents or interests.

4. Investigate School Achievements and Student Outcomes  What are each school's greatest accomplishments? Do most graduating students go onto their top choice high schools or colleges? And are those schools simply accepting them or actively recruiting them? At The Bridges Academy this year, we have a graduating 8th grade class of 17. Every student has chosen at least three schools to apply to, and the acceptance rate to their top choice school is 100%. On top of that, $65,000 in scholarships have been extended to us with more in process.

5. Ask About Financial Options  Before you eliminate what might be the perfect school for your child because of the tuition cost, find out if there are any financial aid options available to you. At The Bridges Academy, for example, one out of every four students receives some form of financial assistance. Our goal is to create as much socioeconomic diversity as possible at our school, and we work hand-in-hand with families along with a third party independent company to determine what kind of tuition assistance we can provide.

Are you a Long Island parent on the hunt for the right K-8 independent school for your child? Contact The Bridges Academy today. We’re a member of the New York State Association of Independent Schools and we offer a wide variety of experiences that appeal to all types of learners. And with an average class size of 12-16 students a class, we ensure your child will receive the most productive learning environment possible.

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