If you're like a lot of American parents, choosing the right school for your child can be more than a little overwhelming. When you were growing up you likely had only one public school option that every kid in your neighborhood went to. Fast forward to 2015, and the choices for your child are abundant, thanks to public charter schools that have emerged since the 1990s. Here are the essentials that you need to know about charter schools so you can make sure your child is enrolled in the learning environment that is best for him or her:
Charters are public
The curriculum in charter schools may resemble that of private schools, but the good news is that charter schools are public schools. They simply offer a different form of public education than traditional public schools. Because they are public, charter schools cannot discriminate on the grounds of race, gender, income, disability, etc. and are committed to providing the best education for all children, regardless of income or socio-economic level.
Innovation is key
Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of charter schools is their innovation. Charter schools in general have less red tape to deal with than traditional public schools and can therefore be more creative and innovative with their teaching methods and learning environment. This has led to some amazing results with charter schools, including Project Based Learning in charter schools such as Method Schools.
Parental involvement is expected
Of course parents are essential for any child's learning process and educational success. However, unlike public schools, charter schools rely on parent volunteers for success running the day-to-day operations. Parents can be in charge of anything from chaperoning field trips to running the lunch counter to teaching an extra-curricular activity and coaching the track team. Be prepared to get involved as a parent of a charter school student, and also be prepared to make a lot of parent and teacher friends along the way!
Small class sizes
One of the main complaints about public education currently is class size. Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools generally focus on smaller class sizes to make sure each student gets the personal attention s/he needs. Smaller class sizes are ideal for both the students' development and for the teachers who can focus on giving individual attention to each student rather than on managing a large classroom.
Because of the smaller class size, charter schools are able to offer customize each child's educational experience, at least somewhat. In the case of Method Schools, which specializes in Project Based Learning, a small class size means the project selected by the class can be geared towards something of interest and value for the students in the class. In addition, students generally have more options when it comes to elective and otherwise specialized courses in a charter school than they would in a traditional public school.
School without walls
Homeschooling has a lot of benefits and is a good fit for a lot of students. However, often parents need some additional resources and help when it comes to homeschooling. Online charter schools offer a valuable way for students to receive support from professional educators through online conferencing, chatting, and video lectures. In addition, online charter schools such as Method Schools offer students the chance to make face-to-face appointments when they are necessary and beneficial for the student's progress and success.
Charter schools offer many students opportunities they couldn't otherwise afford or achieve through traditional public schooling. They are an ideal option for parents who want to stay involved in their children's education by introducing them to an innovative and creative learning environment that allows students to grow and excel at their own pace and with other motivated and determined students.