We all know the importance of STEM subjects, you’re probably keen to ensure that your children are well prepared for the world of work, and you may also be keen to ensure that they develop a healthy appreciation of the arts and humanities – but what about education more widely? Can it really make a difference to their personalities and their ability to lead satisfying, emotionally fulfilling lives? There have long been educationalists who have believed this to be the case and increasingly schools are adopting their way of thinking. From kindergarten to college, the schools children attend are working to help them maximize their potential.
Early years matter
Studies show that the way children learn in their very early years is the single biggest factor in determining their future potential. This is not simply a case of more is better – in fact, too much formal learning can stunt their development at a stage when they need to play and explore. Early education needs to focus on providing a stimulating environment that inspires children to ask questions and to discover by doing. The best schools engage closely with parents to help them support this kind of learning at home. Children benefit from small, well supported classes – Finnish research suggests that 22 children is the optimum group size – where they can learn from their peers and have plenty of opportunities to participate in creative activity.
Drawing out interests
The importance of letting children discover the things that interest them most can make a difference throughout their student careers. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t learn the basics of a wide range of subjects but it does reflect the fact that they’ll learn more effectively when they’re passionate about what they’re doing. If you keep up with Bryant and Stratton online you’ll see that Bryant and Stratton offer multiple areas of specialty. Colleges that do this enable students to continue finding out about themselves as they go, and at Bryant and Stratton students can move between fields fairly easily if they find subjects to which they are better suited. Taking online courses before college formally starts also gives students the option of getting a taste of different majors to see what interests them most.
Personal and social learning
Alongside traditional subjects, schools are increasingly invested in providing opportunities for personal and social learning. This helps students to better understand themselves and their place in society. It can involve sharpening up critical thinking skills, improving empathy and developing emotional resilience so as to better weather life’s storms. Institutions that deliver effective education of this sort have lower levels of bullying and associated problems like truancy or sudden drops in grades. There’s some evidence that they produce students who are less likely to suffer from mental health problems, and they provide a head start when it comes to important skills like networking which can have a big impact on career progression later in life.
The importance of sport
While focusing on the intellectual and psychological, it’s important not to overlook the physical. Healthy children are generally happier and learn more effectively. Of course, children have widely differing abilities in this area and competitive sports are not for everyone. Some children gain skills from competition, improving their self-discipline while developing their ambition and self-belief, but for other children both health and confidence are better served by engaging in different types of athletic activity. Schools that offer a good choice of activities show more success in engaging less physical children and also in engaging girls, who need the right kind of encouragement to remain interested in sport despite social pressure not to look ‘too’ muscular.
Morals and ethics
Alongside these other areas, the best schools help children to explore issues around morals, ethics and social values. This doesn’t necessarily involve elements of religion but can instead focus on presenting children with different topics or different morally challenging scenarios and encouraging them to discuss and think about these. Elements of moral philosophy can be introduced to help them explore difficult ideas. Many schools take core principles such as honesty or integrity and center education on these in a holistic way, helping to give children a clearer sense of who they are and who they can become.
Choosing the right school for your child has an importance that goes far beyond the opportunities offered for acquiring knowledge. It lays the foundations for life, and if you do it well, your child will reap the benefits for decades to come.