Independent schools have always offered vital alternatives to traditional public schools. Parents and students alike recognize they offer virtually unlimited options to tailor the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is one's education.
While attending conventional schools, many students with Learning Differences (LD) feel misunderstood by their teachers. An all-LD school provides a safe place where students can place their energies toward learning. Feeling safe in the classroom is a new feeling for many LD students as well. Without having to worry that a teacher does not understand, the LD student can engage in the learning process. In schools devoted exclusively to LD students, teachers, not just learning specialists, are trained to work with students in regards to their specific learning needs. With a concentration on the variety of ways people learn, there is constant attention to research on learning with a community of professionals dedicated to improving the learning environment.
Some parents initially believe that a Learning Difference is something that can be "fixed." A specialized, independent school recognizes that an effective approach does not attempt a 'fix' but instead focuses on and celebrates the strengths of the LD student. Providing learning programs and strategies that build upon on what students can do, rather than what they cannot do, improves confidence and highlights the success of each child. While remediation is typically part of the program, combining it with a focus on strengths allows the student to have a full growth experience. This helps reframe the way they personally think about their LD so they recognize they can be successful learners.
A specialized boarding school also addresses issues outside the classroom. LD does not go away when a student sits down to do homework or while living in a community. When every student at a school is LD, they do not need to pretend they are not or hide it from their friends for fear they will not be accepted. The environment provides a positive setting that plays a major role in how a student views his or her self-worth. An LD school can be much more explicit in dealing with self-advocacy, resiliency, and self-confidence.
"By coming to an all-LD school, I don't have to hold anything back anything about my Learning Difference," agrees Josh Sacks, a senior at The Forman School. "Everyone's on the same page so there's no fear there."
At an LD school, students do not need to give up arts, athletics, or other extras to get the support they need. These programs benefit the entire student. Many well-known people with successful careers in the arts have indentified themselves as LD, including Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg. Schools for LD students often feature strong arts departments to develop such affinities. Athletics also provide a vital program component, allowing students to experience sports on a competitive level, which provides leadership opportunities and builds self-confidence. In fact, because students see their peers as leaders on campus, they are motivated and inspired to seek leadership roles themselves.
Oftentimes, parents of many LD students are not even considering college when their child enrolls in high school. They have often struggled for so long that college is not always viewed as an option. Yet after a few years of specialized instruction, when students reach their junior and senior year, such parents are pleasantly surprised to realize their child is very capable of attending the college of their choice. The college application/matriculation process is different for these students and a specialized school is tuned into this process.
A school exclusively dedicated to serving students with Learning Differences is the clearly the best place to address their needs. Most importantly, the singular focus creates an environment that can lead to a transformational experience for students.
An all-LD school ultimately provides the key strategies and skills that transform a student into a confident self-advocate and independent learner in college and beyond. "With the appropriate intervention introduced in a timely manner, a specialized school for students with Learning Disabilities can create lifelong changes for the student and the student's family," states Tom Cone, Director of Admissions at Eagle Hill School in Greenwich, CT.
About The Forman School
The Forman School is a coeducational college preparatory boarding and day school for students with dyslexia, ADHD, and learning differences. You can learn more about by visiting www.formanschool.org.