Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Educational Options For Your Child

by Malina
You hear a story on the news about another tragedy in the local schools. Or you hear about something being taught in the schools that you disagree with. Perhaps your child is approaching school age and perhaps you have started to wonder if just sending him/her to the local public school is the right choice. Maybe your child is at school already but either he/she is unhappy or you are unhappy with the education or environment of the school. As a parent committed to being actively involved in your child's education, the first step to fixing the situation or determining if public school is the best place for your child is to be educated about the many educational options that are out there.

Public Schools - The school you attend is defined by where you live. When there is active support from parents and the community, they can provide an excellent education, but quality varies significantly from school to school, even within a district. Educational standards are written by the state legislatures. No Child Left Behind mandates have significantly affected the focus and missions of public schools.

Public Magnet Schools - Usually specialize in a specific area, like science or arts. Auditions or applications required for admittance. Originally formed in 1970's to help with desegregation, diversity is still a goal of magnet schools. Usually have a high caliber of excellent teachers as well as committed, focused students. Must still meet public school educational standards and testing. Hopefully well known in the area as excellent schools.

Charter Schools - Part public school, part private school. Charter schools receive tax dollars but also need some private funding. They are not part of the local school district and are exempt from meeting public school standards. Usually free, but often have waiting lists. There are many different organizations running charter schools. Some are run by corporations, organizations, groups of concerned parents or teachers. Charter schools usually specialize in some way (learning disabilities, arts, Montessori, back to basics...) and provide smaller class sizes. For more information, click here.

Pariochal Schools - Roman Catholic, Evangelical Christian, Lutheran, Society of Friends, etc. Pariochal schools are associated with a church and involve religious instruction in addition to academics. They usually receive funding from the church and teachers may be lay persons or clergy with or without educational training. You do not need to belong to the church to attend but are required to participate in the religious instruction. Many different associations for these schools can be found at this link.

Proprietary Schools - These are for profit schools. They do not have a board of trustees or elected officials and claim to be able to respond quickly to market demands. Tuition is similar to Private Independent Schools. Many are members of NIPSA.

Private Independent Schools - Private nonprofit schools that are run by an elected board of trustees. Funding comes from tuition, charitable contributions and endowments. Famous schools in this category include Andover and Exeter. Some operate boarding schools as well. Most are members of NAIS which means they have accreditation and are nondiscriminatory.

Montessori Schools - Based on the principles of the founder, Montessori schools are holistic child centered learning. Usually there are no grades, personalized curriculum and a hands on approach to learning. A lack of consensus about what it means to be Montessori means that anyone can claim to follow the method. Mostly private schools, but also found in public magnet schools or charters. To learn more, visit this link.

Waldorf Schools - Waldorf Education is based on a philosophy developed by Rudolf Steiner. It mixes the artistic, conceptual and practical together to help a child develop into free moral integrated individuals able to attain their destiny. The growth of a child is broken into three stages. Early childhood learning is experiential, imitative and sensory based. Elementary learning focuses on developing artistic and imaginative abilities. Adolescence has an emphasis on developing the intellectual with moral and social responsibility. To learn more, visit this link.

Home schooling - Approaches to home schooling are wide and varied. Virtual schools, school at home, unschooling, Charlotte Mason, classical education, eclectic, unit studies, Waldorf, Montessori, Thomas Jefferson, Well Trained Mind, and relaxed are some of the approaches. To read more about different approaches, visit this link.  There are as many approaches as there are theories of education and child development. Each states' regulation of home schooling varies from no oversight to required yearly testing, curriculum plans and portfolios. Reasons for home education are varied as almost a third of home schoolers do not list religion as a reason for home schooling. See report here.

What type of educational philosophy best matches your beliefs and goals for your child's education? Is moral environment important?



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