Many people are becoming dissatisfied with the public school and education system in the United States. District performances are constantly being regulated and reformed into standardized testing and one-size-fits-all teaching methods. For many parents, these changes just aren’t working. In other cases, parents are highly concerned for their children’s safety, whether because of recent tragedies or because of the location of their child’s school. It is also hard for parents to trust the school system to protect their children if they have disabilities, food allergies, or behavioral needs. Even more parents wish their child received a different education than the one they are earning, for whatever reason that may be. There are a number of other options for parents facing these predicaments, each with their own upsides and downsides.
Private schools can vary in their format. They can be essentially public, with higher standards of education that is not dictated by the school districts in the area. They can be religious or collegiate-intensive in nature. They can also be very, very expensive and require your child to adhere to a very strict set of rules, including the infamous dress code. A lot of people believe that private schools produce smarter or more successful children, and that may be true in some cases. However, it is still an institution and you have to be sure that the teaching methods in whichever private school you choose align with your values as a parent.
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Co-op schools may be one of the least known options on this list, but are a great choice if you still want a “school setting” to educate your children without all of the downsides of public or private school. Cooperative schools generally combine teachers (who are usually parents) for different subjects, parents who help take care of every child in the class, and alternate recess, lunch, homework, and other duties. It is a parent-intensive setting, where children benefit from having their parents near, while also experiencing structure and a “school day” set up. Downsides to this may be that teachers are less educated in some arenas, or that children with behavioral issues may act out more when their parents are involved. There is also some concern about accreditation, and whether or not colleges and the workplace officially recognize a co-op school for children as they age.
There are a number of online platforms that help teach children K-12 standard education. It usually involves modules and units on the computer that a child must complete before accessing the next set. In this way, a child has structure, goals, and visible movement through their learning career. This is becoming very popular among parents with safety concerns, or who are attempting to care for a child with physical or mental disabilities or who have had a hard time in a public school setting. Concerns with motivation and structure are prominent, and are something a parent needs to evaluate prior to moving their child to this method. Some children do not learn well from reading or engaging with a computer.
Nearly 2 million children are homeschooled in the U.S. That’s a fairly large number, about 3% of the school-aged population. There are a number of benefits to this, including children benefiting from time with their parents, learning specific topics that relate to each child or what they find interesting, and the parent’s ability to provide a well-rounded or specific education to their children. Homeschooling is difficult not only for the children, but also for the parents. This is the method where people must consider how much patience and ability they have to teach their children; it’s not easy. Homeschooling is becoming much more acceptable in certain areas, and many times is “accredited” for higher education and so on.
As you can see, public school is not your only option when educating your child(ren). It’s important to weigh each option and see how it fits with your family, your child, and what you want from an education. Each method can be tweaked to fit your needs, but no one method is perfect. Educating a child is a tough business, but it is necessary and so worth it in the end.