Blogger Janet George, M.S., M.Ed., Fellow/AOGPE
The advantages of a small school for any child appear to be obvious to those who give some thought to the topic. However, these advantages become critical to the success of a child with Learning Disabilities. Some advantages include:
- small class sizes allowing for more direct instruction for each child
- more time on-task, because the time needed to move a classroom of six children through the building is much less than for a classroom of thirty or more
- less (no) chance that a child will “fall through the cracks” by going unnoticed in a classroom too big to monitor
- the pace at which materials are taught can be more readily adapted (slower or faster) to the needs of each child
- curriculum can be targeted to the specific interests of the child, allowing for an increase in the intrinsic desire to learn (self-motivation!)
- the opportunity for learning while utilizing “hands-on” activities increases
- negative behaviors, such as bullying, are more easily monitored and corrected in the moment
- children get to know one another better creating an atmosphere of “family”
- the environment itself is less intimidating and less overwhelming
- smaller schools can offer “no cut” policies within the athletic department, allowing every child the opportunity to participate in team sports
- allowing children to be “big fish” in a little pond, instead of always being the “little fish” in the big pond (These “big fish” moments are what build self-confidence for children with Learning Disabilities)
- parents having more opportunity to become involved with the school, as well as other parents, creating a network of support for children and parents
Moving past the “obvious” advantages, one is moved to wonder whether there are those advantages that are not quantifiable with numbers, testing data or assessment outcomes. What if the following outcomes are a result of smaller classrooms?
- What if the child who feels a sense of belonging stays away from the wrong crowd because he doesn’t need to settle for negative attention?
- What if the child who feels accepted chooses not to use drugs to numb the pain of rejection?
- What if the child who feels talented doesn’t cut or self-harm because she has a focus on which to build?
- What if the child who feels capable applies for a job knowing he can do it?
- What if the child who feels smart applies to go to college?
- What if the child who feels gifted begins to share that gift with other children who have Learning Differences
- What if the child who feels successful creates her own business?
Blogger Janet George is Head of School for Fortune Academy