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The variety of private school options

From military school to Waldorf, a variety of educational experiences

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Private schools offer a variety of specific approaches and experiences not available elsewhere. The type of school parents choose will have a profound effect on the development of each child. Each school can promise benefits but it's the school's unique effect on a child that is the parent's ultimate gift.

Below are some anecdotes and stories from inside military school, a Waldorf school, a school for special needs and a Montessori school that demonstrate how each appeals to individual students' needs and help them develop.

Boys only: Thriving in a new environment

Michael isn't just a Grade 11 student. He's a Sergeant, and the third-ranked student at a military school for boys.

How is it, studying within an all-boys environment?

"It keeps me focused," he says confidently, without pause. "I have no distractions here."

According to Admissions Officer Lieutenant Greg Hewett, Robert Land Academy is not what you might expect when you think of military school.

"We've taken the pieces of the military that work well-like the structure and organization, the chain of command and the uniforms," he says. "We are not a boot camp."

"Boys and girls are very similar on how they identify themselves-what they see in the mirror, the acceptance of peer groups, it has a profound effect on them," he says. "We have a lot of students who have low self-esteem, and they just give up. So we try to encourage positive peer relationships and help students deal with academic and personal challenges."

As for Michael, after he graduates next year, he's taking more than a few of these lessons with him.

"I want to go into the RCMP," he says. - MGG

Active learning: Bringing ideas to life

At Toronto Waldorf School in Thornhill, Ontario, ideas aren't passive, they're something to create, recreate, act out and illustrate. From Grades 1 to 8, the only textbooks that the students use are for higher level math. The rest they write themselves.

"Students make their own books for each subject and theme," says teacher Kathryn Humphrey.

At the school, the teacher will tell or read the students a story. The next day, students recall it: They retell it, make something to depict it or act it out. From there, they write and illustrate the experience.

"It meets the needs of all types of learners-visual, auditory and kinesthetic," Humprey says. - MGG

Accomplishment: Driven to succeed

Deanna Wysocki of Orangeville has reason to be proud. Two of her four sons, Brad, 18, and Justin, 12, are excelling at the top of their studies at Robert Land Academy in Wellandport, Ontario. Her oldest, Zachary, 20, graduated last year and has gone on to study computer engineering at the University of Guelph. She is particularly proud of Zachary's progress.

"Zach was diagnosed with a learning disability at a young age. He was told twice-in Grade 4 and in Grade 9-he would never be able to attend university," says Wysocki. "What he learned at school, as have all my sons, is the inner discipline to work hard and that excuses won't get you anywhere."

Her youngest son, Brandon, who is nine years old, is eagerly waiting in the wings for his turn at the school. -CD

Preschool: Nurturing future scholars

Three-year-old Amanda, a preschool student at Rowntree Montessori in Brampton, Ontario, loves making envelopes and filling them with pictures, which she carefully takes out to tell a story she's made up.

Amanda's big sister can already read and write, helped along by individual attention and encouragement.

For now, though, Amanda is writing her own masterpieces, one picture at a time. - MGG

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