Q: My child goes to a Spanish immersion charter school that has a music and art program with the International Baccalaureate curriculum. The school believes that their curriculum already offers an enriched education due to the foreign language, music and art classes that are included. Should I be satisfied? Will my very bright son be sufficiently challenged? He loves math and science and I'm not sure there is enough challenge for him at this school in his favorite areas of interest.
A: You are certainly fortunate to have found a school that provides such an enriched learning environment for your son. It is difficult to know whether all your son's talents are being nurtured, but surely the IB program usually provides wonderful social studies and world cultures programing in addition to the music, art and foreign languages. I assume that at least adequate math and science programming is also available at the school. Your decision to remain at this school can come from observations of your son's performance in the various subjects he is learning and the adequacy of the math and science offerings, which are important for so many careers and are also his special areas of interest.
If your son seems happy and realistically challenged, you can feel confident he is in the right program. If he is finding math too easy, or you sense his lessons about science are lacking in his program, you can visit some other schools to determine if there are better offerings elsewhere. It could be a difficult decision to make if you find the school your son attends is failing to provide challenging and differentiated math or science in light of the already enriched curriculum. Schools sometimes have to make difficult decisions regarding the courses they offer because there is too much to include in a school day, and some subjects must be sacrificed or at least delayed until middle and high school years.
For now, I think you can feel comfortable with the school your son is attending. There are also STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) charter schools, but if you chose such a school for your son he would likely miss out on some of the joyful cultural learning he has now. Alternatively, there are other schools that try to provide challenges in all areas. Choosing where your child attends school can be a difficult decision and there is surely no one right answer. Having a broad and varied educational program seems best for younger children. As children mature, and they discover particular talents and interest areas, that would be an important time to choose a school with more emphasis on their special interests. Many children don't differentiate their particular directions of interest area for study until beyond high school when they enter college.
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