Switching to an alternative school is a choice many parents are making but how do you know if they are right for your child?
A concerned mum has taken to Mumsnet to ask if she should consider sending her son to an alternative school. The mum says that her son is due to start primary school in the next couple of years but has a number of additional needs that she is concerned won’t be met in a formal school setting.
“(My son) is 3.5 years old. Diagnosed with ASD in December. He is completely non-verbal, but more frustratingly doesn’t seem to have basic levels of understanding,” she wrote.
“Not toilet trained and I can’t see it happening anytime soon, again not really talking related but more understanding.”
The mum went on to acknowledge that while she wants to choose a school environment that caters to her son’s additional needs, she is concerned about him missing some important experiences.
“I’m just wondering how you know a special school is really right for them?” she asked.
“Sometimes I wonder will (he) not benefit more from being around just average, school children in a mainstream setting? Like the real world has most of and expects you to conform to? Or will a special school be better really?”
While there are a number of schools specifically designed to support the diverse physical and emotional needs of their students, it appears that it’s not just children with additional needs whose parents are considering alternative educational settings. A growing number of parents are opting to send their children to a range of independent alternative schools, offering alternative learning methods outside of the structured school system.
A paper from the Australian Association for Research in Education suggests that alternative schools can offer a host of benefits for students who require a more personalised learning experience.
“Too-often alternative schools are pushed to the margins of our education systems. However, research shows that they can do much to re-engage those young people who have dropped out or disengaged from their education,” Professor Stewart Riddle said.
“Young people thrive when presented with the opportunity to engage in meaningful and productive work; schooling is no different. As long as we try to treat mass schooling with a cookie-cutter approach, we are going to continue to see young people disengaging and becoming disaffected with schooling.”
Would you consider sending your child to an alternative school? Do they already attend one? SHARE your experience in the comments!