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There are more options today than in the past when it comes to choosing a school. In addition to researching your neighborhood public school, you should also review the charter schools, private academies (religious and secular), homeschooling, and online learning programs that are available in your area. Create a list of all your choices and include the pros and cons for each option. You’ll want to look at the curriculum, the school’s philosophy, the teachers, and any other services provided, in addition to costs and transportation needs. Take a look at each school’s academic performance and ratings as well. The school’s general environment, safety, and crime stats might also be a consideration for you.

Consider Your Child’s Needs

Your child’s individual needs should be at the forefront in your decision-making process. While the school’s credentials, reputation, and quality of teachers are all important, if the school doesn’t offer what your child needs it probably won’t be your best option. You’ll need to determine your child’s unique requirements such as:

  • What type of learning environment does he prefer (structured or more relaxed, a group setting or a one-to-one situation)?

  • Does he learn quickly or need more individual attention?

  • Does he struggle to keep up or is he too advanced for the curriculum?

  • What are his learning preferences? Does he learn best with physical activities or prefer to listen to lectures or read? Do other kids promote or distract his learning?

Once you have a list of your child’s individual needs, you can apply those needs to the school options you have listed.

Consider What’s Worked

Depending on your child’s age, you may be guided by past experiences. Has your child’s previous school fit his needs? Think about whether he seemed to enjoy customized presentation or dreaded attending each day. Did the classes stimulate, challenge, or bore him? Were your child’s grades good or not up to his potential? Was he making progress throughout the year? How was the social environment—did he make friends or was he bullied or excluded from social circles? How were his relationships with his teachers? All these areas should be considered when deciding whether you should keep your child enrolled in his current school or look elsewhere.

Consider Other School Options

Make sure to research all school choices available to your child, including local public and private options as well as online learning programs. Many families with children who have specific learning needs that are not addressed by traditional schools have succeeded with this option, including:

  • Students who struggle with several subjects

  • Gifted and advanced learners

  • Children who learn at a different pace or need more individual attention

  • Students interested in preparing for a specific college or career

  • Families who choose to homeschool their children and want access to accredited, award-winning curriculum

  • Children of parents in the military or those with overseas commitments

  • Athletes, musicians, and artists training for competitions or professions

  • Children who are homebound due to illness or other conditions

  • Children who are being bullied or have other problems at a traditional school

  • Children who want more focus on education with less distractions

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