School is just around the corner, but your local public school isn’t your only choice. Today, there’s a variety of education options designed to fit every child’s and family’s needs.
At this point, I have 2 school-aged children (and 2 more that aren’t in school yet) and have looked at all of the options to follow. For the last 5 years, my oldest has been in public school while my second son is going into his third year. When the oldest was just starting kindergarten, we looked at several private schools in our area and decided it just wasn’t for us. For the last several months, we’ve been looking into homeschooling and cyber schooling for our oldest in particular, who struggles in school.
The following is simply my opinion and my observations over the last 5 years.
You already know this one, I’m sure. It’s free. It’s local. There’s often a bus available to transport your child. The school sends you your enrollment information. The curriculum is decided by the school. In short, it’s fairly easy. And your children often know many of their classmates, before ever attending school for even a day, from daycare, gymnastics classes, reading programs, and even next door.
The downfall to public school? They pretty much aim at one style of learning-the auditory learner. The auditory learner learns best by listening to the information. They absorb it and retain it best this way. Not all of us learn this way though. Many of us learn by doing or seeing. These types of learning styles get a little attention, but not a ton in public school.
Another issue is that they are government funded, so they don’t always have every single class available that your child may be interested in. Some schools offer a music program while others just don’t have the money for it. Some offer a computer class with dinosaur computers while others have no computers or, on the flip side, have the most amazing computers you’ve ever seen.
One final issue I’ll address is the teaching speed. Teachers often have 20-30 kids per class and have to teach at a steady pace. They may be teaching too slow for some kids while others still don’t grasp the concept when the next is introduced. It’s frustrating for both ends of the learning spectrum.
Private school is a great option for those parents who want their children to have a religious education, in particular. They can have all of the same positives and negatives as the public school option with one exception: parents pay to send their kids to these schools and they can be pricey! Still, if this is the way you want to go, make sure you do a lot of research on all of your local options. Go to open houses and talk to other parents who have kids in each of the schools you’re considering. Make sure that you’re positive about your decision.
Some of you might not know what I’m talking about but you should really google this one. Cyber School is a form of public school available in most (if not all) states across America. Your child often receives a free computer-laptop or desk top- and a free printer to use while in school. The cyber school usually pays for all or part of your internet access in the home as well.
Cyber school can be all “in the classroom” on the computer or it can be “self lead” and more like the homeschool option with a parent acting as the teacher. The school still chooses the curriculum but you can move at your child’s pace. This is great for the kids who are often ahead or behind in class. There’s less chance of boredom for the fast learner and less chance of being left behind for the slower learner.
The downside? You have to keep up with your work at home or risk your child being set back a year in school. Each state has a required number of hours and days for their children for school. Check yours to be sure you know what it is.
You also have to deal with the whole gym class issue. Cyber schooled children are still required to have a certain number of hours of physical activity. Many can get their hours by participating in sports or taking walks while just playing outside usually doesn’t count. Again, check with your state and your local cyber schools to find out.
And then there’s the social aspect of things. Cyber schooled children can easily become anti-social if not encouraged to have play dates, participate in group activities (such as field trips arranged by your cyber school), or even attend a church program. It’s important that when cyber schooling, your children still get exposed to others, though it’ll be easier to choose who you allow to have contact with your child (which is a definite plus).
Home schooling is just that. It’s school done at home. Again, there are pluses and minuses to this one. For starters, you can choose when to do school, when to start and stop, what curriculum to use, and how you want to teach it. If your child is one of those people that learns best by doing, then you can teach them that way. If your child just doesn’t understand fractions, you can spend more time on them and teach them in various ways until they really understand. If you have a vacation planned for the middle of the school year, you can cover those days that your child will miss earlier or later in the year. You decide!
But there are some downfalls. Home school is often not recognized by colleges as a “real school” and many want a diploma from an actual school. It’s not fair, but it’s a sad fact. Not all colleges and universities are this way, but there are definitely several out there. You’ll have to look into it for yourself.
Another potential problem is all the work involved. In PA, we’re required to submit a portfolio for each home schooled child after the age of 8. This means collecting all the work done throughout the year, finding someone who’s qualified to go over it, and submitting it in enough time to get it all done! For a procrastinator like me, this could be problematic. Add to it my disorganization, and you’ll spell disaster! For other parents, this is no big deal. It’s just one little thing they have to do at the end of the year. You need to decide for yourself if this works for you.
Home schooling can also get pricey since you have to collect your own curriculum. There are tons of used home school supply sites out there to get a good deal and you can also use the curriculum your local schools offer if you ask them. But if you buy it all brand new, it’ll cost a lot! So be careful!
Hopefully now that you’ve read my descriptions of each school option, you have a better grasp on the positive and negative aspects of each one. Like I said, they all have good and bad things about them, you just need to decide which one you’re most interested in pursuing for your particular child (or children). In the end, it’s really up to you as the parents. I’ve included a bunch of the resources I read/looked at below. I’m sure there were a ton more! I did a lot of reading on the home school subject. Good luck with this one!
1. “Bringing Up Boys” by James Dobson
2. “Bringing Up Girls” by James Dobson
8. http://www.hslda.org/Default.asp?bhcp=1 (Laws by State for Home Schooling)