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Choosing a School for Your Child

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Learning

Where a child attends school is one of the most influential decisions parents make on behalf of their child. So what is the best way to decide where your child will be educated? When you’re looking at your schooling options, take into account your values, financial resources, your child’s own personality and needs, and how much of your own time and effort you are able to invest. Here are three main types of schooling available for elementary to high school education.

Public Schools

Most parents choose to send their children to public schools because they are close, easily accessible, funded by the taxes you are already paying and provide a good level of basic education for most kids. Public schools put emphasis on learning from a set curriculum, obeying instruction given by a teacher and provide facilities such as computer rooms, gymnasiums and a staff of trained teachers. However, if your child has special needs or a learning disability, doesn’t respond well to authority, or is particularly sensitive or shy he may have a harder time fitting into the public school system than most kids.

Private and Alternative Schools

Schools that receive little or no funding from government sources are considered private schools, and are supported by the parents who send their children there. They may also receive additional support from the organization the school is affiliated with, such as a church. Parents may choose to send their children to a private school because of religious beliefs or a desire for their children to have more self-directed and holistic learning, as found in Waldorf and Montessori schools. Other parents choose private schools because their child has a learning disability, or they simply want to shelter their child from the realities of inner-city life found in urban public schools. Private schools can be very expensive, and often require parents to drive their children to school in another neighbourhood each morning.

Homeschooling

Growing numbers of parents are choosing to homeschool, for a wide variety of reasons. Some families wish to provide moral or religious education, others want to keep their children safe from gangs, drugs and negative peer influences found in other schools. Many homeschooling families are dissatisfied with teaching methods and curriculum-based learning found in public school, and choose to homeschool so learning can be better tailored to their own child’s needs and interests.

Many homeschooling groups exist to provide socializing time for homeschooled children.  Families may simply get together for social events or might rent out gymnasiums co-operatively during winter months. Obviously, homeschooling requires a considerable investment of time and energy for the parent who shoulders most of the responsibility for co-ordinating learning activities.

Whether you choose to send your children to public school, private school or you educate them at home, it is a good idea to sit down and think carefully about the pros and cons of each option for your particular family. How a child learns about the world has the potential to shape him in ways that will profoundly affect his life in the future, and the right environment for learning can open up a world full of excitement and wonder.

Originally published on Suite101.com on April 6, 2008

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