When should academic centered schooling begin? This has been the question I have been grappling with for weeks. My daughter is not quite 3 and was accepted to a private dual language school for this coming fall where academics and inquiry-based learning is at the heart of what they do. This past January is also when we switched her to an “English school” where a play curriculum is at the heart of how children’s curiosity is nurtured. She is emotionally and socially thriving there and learning English fast, hence our interest to switch her to a Spanish school as soon as possible.

As I have gone to several observations at the dual language school I cannot help but compare the difference in the ways children are taught to think and socialize between the two schools. At the dual language school children are definitely being asked and taught how to be free thinkers, but at my daughters current child development center she gets to do what 2+ year olds love to do: get their hands dirty and have options of when and how they want to play no matter what time of day it is. In other words, if they want to paint all day, painting all day it is whether they are inside or out on the playground. I am not sure I am willing to give that playful and creative atmosphere up, yet. I am not sure she is either.

One of the struggles I have had on my search for the ideal foreign language school is finding one where there is both a strong foreign language program, yet flexibility in the options children have to learn. A trend I started to notice, at least in my city, was that the foreign language schools were stricter with children’s behavior. For example, it was impossible to find a Spanish immersion or dual language Montessori-based school. One has recently opened up, and I have yet to visit, although it is far from our home. In other words, the options are definitely limited.

I also started to notice how many parents seemed sold on a school based on the reputation it has and are willing to leave a hefty deposit not having visited a single classroom! Maybe I am over analyzing our school options, but what I have concluded that a parents main concern should be, how will the current school meet the needs of my child from an academic perspective, socially and emotionally?

For example, I have learned that my child learns best in a setting that offers lots of socialization and options. It is in those settings where she seems to be developing her intellectual curiosity and emotional well. That is to say, as parents we should be concerned about our children’s overall academic, social, emotional, linguistic and psychological development and in which context those elements are likely to prosper.  A challenging task but one I have decided to continue to try and fulfill even if it means deferring our acceptance to a highly sought out school until our daughter is a little older.

Have you grappled with a similar decision? If so, how did you decide on what kind of school to choose for your child? In other words, were you willing to give up a certain characteristic of a school for another?

{Image by  woodleywonderworks}

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