Your Child’s Schooling – Do You Know Your Options?
It is estimated that about 49.4 million students in the United States attend public schools. Public schools are funded by federal, state, and local funds, and they are governed by the federal regulations mandating that every child is educated by funds provided by taxation.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 5.9 million students were enrolled in a private school education in 2010. Private schools are funded by private donations and tuition costs and require some sort of fee for a student’s attendance. While they are governed by boards, they often comply with state and federal education requirements to make sure their students are meeting at least the minimum required by law. Private schools can be non-denominational or religious.
As of 2009, 1.4 million students were enrolled in public charter schools, according to the Institute of Education Sciences. Charter schools are currently allowed in 40 states and the District of Columbia, and they are funded by public tax dollars. The difference between a public school and a charter school is the way the curriculum is presented. While charter schools are held to the same standards as public schools, they are allowed to modify their school hours, curriculum presentation. They also foster student and parent involvement.
Fundamental schools are a newer concept, making school a place that the child wants to attend and succeed at. While fundamental schools are publicly funded, like public and charter schools, they hold their students, parents, and staff to higher standards than a typical public school. Most fundamental schools require its students to wear uniforms, adhere to a strict homework and behavior policies, and will transfer out students who do not meeting the standards. Fundamental schools are becoming more and more successful, obtaining scores at the top of the list for state-run testing. Most fundamental schools require an application first, and then a lottery is usually held to determine which students get in and which students are placed on a waiting list.
Montessori is a learning program developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1907. A Montessori education is child-based, and allows children to learn through all five of their senses. This type of education encourages children to learn at their own pace, and their learning experience is based on the choices they make as they learn. The class sizes are larger, and there is little pretend play, as research found that children prefer to play with the real thing rather than pretending; for example, children have the opportunity to actually cook, instead of pretending to cook. While Montessori is more common in centers catering to children two to six years of age, there are a few middle and high school Montessori programs available in many locations.
Online schooling has become a popular choice for families. Some polls indicate that 1 in 50 students are enrolled in a virtual method of schooling, and 3 out of 4 school districts offer some form of online learning. Online or virtual schooling allows students to attend school at home with the same curriculum as a traditional school. Most online programs are free, though some do offer tuition-based programs.
According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2007, 1.5 million students were homeschooled in the United States, with the bulk of those students being in kindergarten through fifth grade. In a home school environment, a parent will educate their child based on a set curriculum, which is purchased by the parent. Some homeschoolers also use “un-schooling,” which is a method of teaching based on the children’s desires and not on a set curriculum. Depending on your state laws, a homeschooling parent may have to meet regulations and testing standards.
Choosing the right school setting should be based on your child’s personality and learning style. When it comes to schooling, one size does not fit all. It is best to explore and research all of the options your child has available for an education.