Demystifying Your K-12 Options


There are a plethora of schooling options for your kid. Which one fits your family best?

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1. Visit Your School District to Enroll in a Neighborhood Public School

If your child attends a neighborhood public school, her education will be funded by the government (which means no tuition fees) and will follow the state’s educational curriculum.

If your city offers school choice, you can request to have your child attend any public or private school in the city. (Vouchers may be granted to help pay for private school tuition.)

2. Gear Up For Heavy Parental Involvement at a Charter School

Charter schools are public schools that are set up and run by teachers, parents and educational entrepreneurs. Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools don’t follow state education regulations and curriculum; instead, local and state organizations keep the schools accountable for academic results.

3. Let Your Child Learn a Specific Skill at a Magnet School

Magnet schools are public schools that have a specific focus, such as science, technology or the arts. They’re designed to attract students from diverse social, economic and ethnic backgrounds. Depending on the school, your child may or may not need to pass an entrance exam in order to enroll.

4. Access Education Online at a Virtual School

Also called distance learning, virtual schools let students access classes online rather than in a traditional classroom. Consider virtual education if you live in a remote area or if you want your child to learn at his own pace.

5. Foster Your Child's Spiritual Growth at a Religious Private School

Private (non-public) schools support your family’s beliefs about how your child should be educated. Tutition is required.

Although religious private schools are affiliated with specific religious denominations or local churches, not all religious private schools require that students practice that religion.

6. Consider a Secular Private School

Secular private schools are designed to match the values, academic goals and budget of your family. These schools are not affiliated with a particular religion and often focus on a certain aspect of schooling. For instance, “college prep” private schools help your child get ready for college, and some private schools (such as Montessori and Waldorf schools) follow a particular educational philosophy.

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7. Create Your Own Curriculum Through Homeschooling

The rules around homeschooling are set by your state’s department of education. If you want to teach your child at home, you don’t need to go at it alone! You can order materials from companies and organizations that specialize in homeschooling. You can also join local homeschooling groups and utilize local public resources.

8. Choose an Alternative School for Specialized Attention

If your child doesn’t “fit in” academically and socially at other schools or if he has special needs, consider enrolling him in an alternative school. These schools work with the public school system and offer smaller educational settings. This means that your child will have access to individualized support, counseling and life skills training.

9. Receive Real-World Training at a Vocational School

If your teenager thrives in an environment where he receives training in careers that interest him, a vocational high school might be right for him. This type of school connects education to work-based learning. At the end of this program, your child will earn a high school diploma and a solid foundation for college and/or a career.

10. Get Back on Track with a GED Program

General Education Diploma (GED) programs are for older students who want to earn the equivalent of a high school diploma in a non-high school setting. These programs are often part of an adult education setting with smaller classes, individualized instruction and a shorter school day.