Alternative schools vs. traditional public schools
For some children, traditional public school just doesn't cut it. From behavioral problems to learning disabilities, to simply wanting a better education, certain issues keep some students from thriving in a traditional school environment. Luckily, there are a number of alternatives to conventional public school.
Here's a look at some of the more common schooling alternatives:
- Boarding school – This is a tuition-charging school where students not only study but also live on campus grounds. It generally encourages a stronger focus on education. Some boarding schools feature additional training, as well; for example, military boarding schools combine an educational curriculum with military discipline and exercises.
- Military school – This is an educational institution that also prepares students for service in the military. It focuses on discipline and obedience, and many offer programs for troubled teens.
- Private school – This is a tuition-charging school that is not run by the state. Private schools focus on smaller class sizes for a higher quality of learning.
- Language school – A language school focuses on helping students achieve competence in a foreign tongue. Usually, this is done through language immersion – conducting all classes and school activities in the language being studied.
- Christian school – This is a school that runs on Christian principles and makes religion a part of the curriculum.
- Montessori school – This type of school focuses on the Montessori method of learning, which places an emphasis on self-directed activity.
The benefits and disadvantages of alternative schooling
There are many benefits to providing children with alternative schooling. Alternative schools can offer:
- A focus on students who are at risk, such as those who are behind in credits, display behavioral problems, are pregnant or parenting, have learning disabilities, are homeless or exhibit other learning obstacles.
- A reduction in drop-out rates and truancy.
- A redirection of misguided students into a more effective learning environment.
- A curriculum that focuses on hands-on learning by connecting the students with the community.
- Lower enrollments, allowing for smaller student-to-staff ratios.
- A staff trained to teach, mentor, counsel and tutor students.
- A student voice in school operations.
- Clear and fair rules that are consistently enforced.
- High standards for personal responsibility, performance, behavior and attendance.
There are, however, also some disadvantages to choosing alternatives schools over the traditional public school system. These include:
- A tuition, which can be quite expensive.
- A lack of stable funding, which means they sometimes can't live up to their standards.
- A lack of diversity in the student population, which can adversely affect socialization.
- A curriculum that doesn't always conform to educational regulations, leaving students inadequately prepared for certain programs down the road.
- A high level of competition, which may be difficult, or even damaging, for some students.
Alternative schools have come a long way from the cliched home for wayward youth. Today, a variety of options cater to those seeking nontraditional education for a number of reasons. As often as not, alternative schooling is sought to provide a broader educational experience as opposed to a stricter code of conduct. Only you and your child can decide whether an alternative school is appropriate and, if so, which option best meets your child's needs.