Updated June 08, 2015.
Is your child upset or unhappy every day before they go to school? Are they not doing as well academically as you believe they are capable of? Do you feel that your child’s current school isn’t as responsive or supportive to you or your child’s needs? If so, perhaps it is time to change gears and think about other options for your child’s education. While it may seem like a daunting task, the end result may be better grades, a happier child and less stress for you, the parent or caregiver.
There are several options that are available to you as a parent or caregiver for the education of a child. There are public schools, private schools, magnet schools and charter schools. Homeschooling is another option that is becoming more popular with parents frustrated with an education system that is “one size fits all.”
Public Schools. Public schools are often the first choice for their child’s education because they are nearby and the cost is affordable. Each state offers different programs to students who have a demonstrated learning disability. Applications for services are usually done through the county’s Health and Human Services department.
Private Schools. Private schools have additional costs associated with enrollment, however there are scholarships that are available based on financial need and other criteria. A private school may be a good fit for a learning disabled child if their curriculum meets the needs of the child. Since a private school doesn’t have to follow federal mandates, such as No Child Left Behind and the testing process, the teachers may use, for example, a curriculum that allows for self-paced learning, thematic units or project-based learning.
Magnet Schools. Magnet schools are often program specific, in which case they are teaching students a specialized skill set, such as math, the arts, or agriculture. Some magnet schools may combine more than one program, and there can be several schools within a school. Students who have a learning disability may also be gifted academically, and a magnet school that focuses on a subject that is their strength could be a good choice. Entrance may be based on academics, a lottery system or a combination of the two. Some magnet schools are run by the state, which draws students from multiple districts, whereas others are run by a locality, drawing students from a single school district.
Charter Schools. Charter schools are part of the public school system, however, they are not subject to all of the same rules and regulations as public schools are; they are, however, subject to state mandated testing. Each state determines how the charter schools are approved, either at the state or local level by the Board of Education. A charter school may focus on a specific program, or be formed to serve a specific student population, such as the disabled learner. Acceptance may be based on academics or a lottery, or a combination of the two.
Home School. Home school is yet another option for a student with a learning disability. As the popularity of home school increases, the options for these students are also increasing. Parents may design their own curriculum, purchase one from a publisher, such as Abeka, or sign up for a computer-based online school. Depending upon the needs of the student, parents can choose the structure and the timeline for accomplishing academic goals; the timeline need not be the same as those in a traditional school setting.
Choosing a School
Whenever possible, a family should decide together the type of school that would be best for a child with a learning disability. Depending upon their age, children can voice their concerns and desires about the type of learning environment they would like to be a part of. There are many things that should be considered, such as choosing the right teacher and curriculum, transportation to and from the chosen school, and financing the education. Every child can thrive in their educational environment if the time is taken to choose the best school option for them based on their unique needs.