While the majority of students in the U.S. are formally educated in public schools, changes in the education landscape, including standardized testing requirements, meeting a more advanced level of reading comprehension, math, science, and technological related standards, and acquiring necessary college and career ready skills upon high school graduation, allow parents to question if their child will be prepared to successfully compete in the ever-growing 21st century’s global economy. As parents hold themselves accountable for their child’s accomplishments, such changes have also allowed them to contemplate which educational institution would best serve, nourish, nurture, and ensure the highest standard of academic achievement.
When considering which educational institution would best meet the academic and social needs of one’s child, a plethora of options are now available, as the educational system strives to prepare students for the future workforce. Public and private schooling are still among the most desired choices parents take into consideration. But now other educational options such as online and home schooling have parents debating how their child should be educated in the 21st century.
How a child is educated is one of the most important decisions a parent makes. Therefore, one must be extremely selective with regard to their child’s needs, abilities, and interests when taking educational options into account. Whether public, private, or home school, pros and cons exists within each. While public schooling can provide social skills development and differentiated instruction to meet students’ individual learning needs, student safety, teacher-student ratio, discipline, and over-testing are among the leading concerns parents have regarding this option. Private schools rarely deal with such concerns because they are not governed by outside entities. Teacher-student ratios are smaller, discipline issues are significantly lower percentage wise, and the stress and pressure of standardized testing is non-existent.
Homeschooling and online education are alternatives to public and private schooling that has increased tremendously over the past decade, with some states reporting increases of at least 50 percent. Based on the rise in the number of students who are homeschooled, many tend to feel it is a relatively new concept when, in fact, homeschooling is the original form of education. With the availability to tailor and customize curriculum to meet the needs and interests of their child, the opportunity to differentiate instruction and allow self-paced learning to take place, and the support of social student/parent homeschooling networks, parents consider these factors when choosing this educational option.
As parents are confronted with the decision regarding the type of schooling best fit for their child, it is important to thoroughly research all considerable options and be highly selective when making a final decision. Here are a few questions to ask and consider.
Public School: What school-wide safety procedures are in place? What is the average student-teacher ratio per grade level? How assessable is the school’s administrator? Are the teachers highly qualified? What credentials does each teacher possess? Does the school have a counselor? nurse? librarian? What role does the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) play on the campus? What is the in-school, out-of-school suspension/expulsion/alternative placement rate? What is the campus-wide discipline policy? What are the biggest school-wide academic concerns of the campus administration team? What extra-curricular activities are available for students? What emphasis is placed on college/career readiness? What is the graduation rate (high school)? What is the dropout rate (middle/high school)?
Private School: What safety measures are in place on the campus? Is the school accredited? What are the credentials of the teachers? How assessable is the school administrator? How much is tuition? Is financial assistance available? What is the student-teacher ratio? What curriculum is used for instruction? What school-wide discipline procedures are in place? What is the teacher turnover rate? What expectations does the school have for parents? What are the entrance and testing requirements? How long has this school been in operation? What extra-curricular activities/organizations are available for students? What emphasis is placed on college preparation? What colleges do the school’s high school graduates attend?
Home School: As a parent, do I possess the necessary instructional skills to teach my child? What are my child’s interests? What are my state’s regulations regarding homeschooling? What home school curriculum will best suit the academic needs of my child? What is my child’s learning style: How can I teach my child to develop socially? What sort of instrucitonal schedule can I create for my child? What homeschooling support networks are available in my area? How will I assess my child’s learning? What will I do if my child is not learning?
Online School: Is the online school accredited? What credentials do the online instructors possess? How many students are assigned to each instructor? What curriculum will be used to instruct my child? How assessable is the online instructor for extra support? Will textbooks and materials be provided? Are support networks available in my area for students attending the online school? How much is tuition? How long has this school been in operation?