Discovering that your child needs accelerated learning opportunities here in Northern Virginia, Fairfax, Arlington or Loudoun is a slow surprise for many of us, and one that’s not easily accommodated or fostered by typical school systems – public or private. Certainly it might be evident to you as a parent that by preschool, you’re finding your child is very bright, has unusual potential, quickly picks up new skills and is beginning to outpace many peers and the instructional resource available. It’s much tougher to convince most schools and teachers, however, of what you intrinsically feel and know as a 24 hour parent – when the school system only has a limited perspective of your child’s accomplishments, and are also measuring your child’s needs against the many demands and realities of educating hundreds of students from all kinds of backgrounds – especially in Virginia under both a difficult economy and the institutional pressures of the “Standards of Learning” (SOL) program.
An advanced learner or gifted student in Northern Virginia is, however, pretty easy to recognize as early as Kindergarten and 1st grade, when they’re rapidly learning early reading, writing and math techniques. It’s even more evident that your child needs a differentiated or accelerated curriculum by mid-late elementary school, when the realities of say Loudoun or Fairfax gifted school offerings are beginning to fall dramatically below those necessary to sustain an educational trajectory that leads to successful placement in competitive high schools and academic programs, success in advanced “AP” or “IB” classes and ultimately matriculation at the best country’s best universities. In the public school systems (i.e. Fairfax and Loudoun), true “gifted and talented” programs do become available by middle school, but these basic “enrichment programs” may be too little, too late to truly offer your advanced child the challenges they need and deserve.
In Loudoun County, the “SEARCH”, “SPECTRUM” and “FUTURA” programs are enrichment programs that are provided to those that meet minimum criteria including a student profile, teacher rating, ability test scores and achievement test scores. The modest differentiation offered through these programs, however, is limited to the simple additional pool of students thus identified, and not to individual learning needs nor are they fully immersive (i.e. full-day). Fairfax does offer a more targeted and flexible Continuum of Gifted Services in grades K-12 with more options for individualized attention, yet still suffers from very high class sizes (up to 32) and corresponding high student-to-teacher ratios (and therefore much less individualized attention) across all programs.
Northern Virginia private schools are an option to seriously consider to successful fulfill your child’s differentiated learning needs. Most DC metro private schools in the area, however, are simply more controlled, exclusive settings with additional enrichment opportunities and smaller class sizes, along with somewhat more independence on the part of the faculty to be flexible about class assignments and adding or removing extracurricular programs. Only one school in this area is exclusively and successfully focused on the individual academic needs of truly academically gifted students. This includes a teaching environment that’s caring and attentive, respectfully acknowledging of parental input, is led by true “Master” teachers and is utterly responsive to each individual child across the entire spectrum of their whole-school experience – the Nysmith School for the Gifted in Herndon, VA.
The Nysmith School for gifted and talented learning in Fairfax, Loudoun and surrounding areas is a truly unique, award-winning, fully accredited and nationally recognized coeducational K-8 school with a myriad of benefits over and above other Northern Virginia public, private or religious schools. Fairfax full-day school, preschool and after-school programs are available under an admissions process that carefully identifies the need for accelerated instruction and individualized academic attention. The classes include a very diverse yet warm and loving group of children and teachers at ratios ranging from 1 teacher per 7-10 students, with 2 teachers in every class.
Nysmith School for the Gifted provides an academic environment that is thoroughly advanced and specifically designed to meet the unique educational, social, and emotional needs of gifted learners in Fairfax, Loudoun and surrounding Northern Virginia and DC metro area (bus service is available). The school boasts many academic honors and awards each year, in internationally-recognized programs ranging from Odyssey of the Mind, Wordmaster and MathCounts, to a recent Top 10 listing on the very prestigious Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth “2009 CTY Talent Search”.
Many successful student alumni are currently attending the very prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, along with other nationally-recognized high schools in area including Episcopal, Madeira, Foxcroft, National Cathedral School, Landon, St. Pauls, Lawrenceville, Phillips Exeter, Durham Academy, Bullis, Sidwell Friends, Flint Hill, Emma Willard, the George School, and Wakefield. Many others are in Fairfax, Falls Church, Loudoun County, and Prince William County Schools taking AP courses or following the IB or Cambridge Programs for advanced students. After high school, Nysmith graduates have attended top universities around the country, including UVA, Virginia Tech, MIT, USC, SUNY, Brandeis, Dartmouth, Brown, Mary Washington, George Mason, the Air Force Academy, University of Saint Louis, and Rensselaer.
If you are discovering, or already know, your child’s unusual and limitless academic potential is being underserved by your local school offerings, visit the Nysmith School for the Gifted private day school and full-day preschool in Northern Virginia. As current Loudoun parents of a bunch of very happy, motivated and inquisitive children at Nysmith, we highly recommend this Northern Virginia private school as the most challenging, experienced and yet successful, individually-flexible and wonderfully attentive school and teaching staff available in the area.