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Magnet School vs. Public School
Q: I have a gifted nine-year-old boy who is in the gifted program at an elementary school in Florida. He's going to middle school in August, but I've heard about the magnet schools, and I'm at a loss about what should I do. What are the real benefits if I place him on a magnet program? I'm scared about not taking the right option about my child's education.
A: You need to do some serious school shopping to find the best fit for your gifted son. It could be the magnet school. Many parents find these schools very appealing as they believe that magnet programs offer a superior education. Quite often, students in these schools do have higher achievement test scores than those in "regular" schools; however, this is not always true.
Magnet schools typically offer a unified curriculum based on a special theme or method of instruction. They attract more motivated students, which leads to a safer, more orderly environment conducive to learning. Plus, the teachers tend to be committed and enthusiastic. In addition, the school's focus on a field of study gives students a sense of direction. Another benefit of these schools is that they are freer to offer educational innovations.
While a magnet school may sound very appealing, only you can determine if it is truly right for your son. For example, if a magnet program emphasizes a unified curriculum based on the arts, it would probably not be a good choice if your son is most interested in science or history.
Visit the schools your son could attend next year. Your final choice should depend primarily on finding the school where your son will be in the challenging environment he needs. Look carefully at what he will be studying and how it will be taught at each school. Also, be sure to get input from your son as it is important for him to be happy at the new school. Finally, remember that because you know your son best, you are well qualified to find the right school for him.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.