Home schooling, Micro-schools etc.
Today's parent has choices. We have known for decades that traditional education is not meeting the needs of all students. That doesn't mean that public schools are bad, although we do need to see many changes. What it does mean, is that if you, the parent, do not feel that the public school is meeting the needs of your child, then you have options. So - how do you decide? Research. You know your child. You know where your child is struggling, or at least where they are not being challenged. You also know your schedule, your own strengths and weaknesses. It's a challenging part of being a parent, but also a very rewarding journey when you get it right.
This can be a great alternative, but there is work involved. However, there is also the joy of being with your children and seeing them develop a love of learning. There are also many great support groups today - so there is no need to struggle on your own. I'll link to several resources at the bottom of this post for those of you who are just considering the idea. I have heard so many people say that going to a school plays an important role in helping your children socialize. As a teacher, and a librarian, I simply do not believe that. Children do learn to be social when they are around other people, but home schooling does not mean seclusion. There are many great groups, whether it's a sports team, a library group, another group of home schoolers, or just family and friends, where your children will learn social skills. Often, the public classroom is the last place to learn how to work together as the curriculum is cram packed, the teacher must include all the curriculum as it will most likely be tested and there are so many limitations on the teacher.
Childhood is an important time to grow and develop not only social skills, but thinking skills, Children learn by exploring the world around them As a homeschooler, you can take the time to explore something of immediate interest. You can also help children select books that fit their interests and keep the desire to learn alive. You set the timing, while teaching. You can also, especially at the middle and high school level, provide your children with access to learn about topics that may not be offered at many schools.
I am seeing more and more of these as I talk with parents and educators. This may be a small group of dedicated parents who get together and employ a teacher or two, or who have the pre-requisite skills to teach and are willing to work with a few more students than just their own. Again, support groups are available for those interested in this as an option and I'll place the links at the bottom. Feel free to explore. As with the more traditional home school, it does take work to educate a child (but which aspect of parenting is not hard work?)
Again, we are seeing more and more charter schools open (and some close). They are publicly funded so must meet the state requirements of education which includes standardized testing. However, the administrators have some leeway in who they hire and how they accomplish their goals. The "charter" lays out their plan to educate the students who at a minimum must meet the standardized testing requirements. Classes may be smaller, but that is not always the case. There are many Charter Schools in Texas and often, you'll have a choice, especially in a larger city or urban area. The main difference seems to be that if a charter school does not meet the goal of educating the students, they can be closed down. If a public school is failing, steps are taken to make it better, but the public school can continue in a failing status for a while. Getting into a charter school may not be easy, although
There are many great private schools out there. As with Charter Schools, a private school that does not meet the need of students will not last, so if it's been around for a while, it's likely worth the cost - but certainly do your research for any school that will have your child for 6-7 hours a day.
Full time online public (and therefore free) schools were an option, long before COVID hit. There are many students who are willing to work at their own pace and this option suits them perfectly. It may be an especially good choice for those who are spending hours each day in theater, or athletic pursuits.
There are many good public schools in Texas. Unfortunately, we don't always have the choice to select the best or the most appropriate schools for our children. It is important, in my opinion, to be able to choose a school that suits your child. Again, do your research. Some School Districts in Texas are beginning to explore charters as part of the district. That may mean there is an IB school that your child can attend or a school with more modern language options. Even if you are not zoned for that particular school, it may be a possiblity to transfer without moving your home. Public schools may offer "academies" where a student has options for classes related to a specific career area. Public schools also offer a wider variety of extra curricular activites, like sports, marching band, drama/theater and even year book activities that may not be available outside of the public school arena.
It is a difficult choice, but as time passes, we, the parents, are given access to more and more possibilities for our children. It's up to us to research and select the best one for each child. Parents may end up selecting different options for each child, and the abiltity to make that choice is the best gift of America. There are many countries where home schooling is illegal and private schools are simply too expensive and public education is simply the only choice.
BOOKS TO READ
Charter Schools and their enemies. Author: Sowell, Thomas
Look for an upcoming post recommending more books and education podcasts and bloggers to read/ follow as you begin to research the best options for your children.
LINKS TO EXPLORE
Texas Private School Association