Deciding where your child should attend school should be a pretty easy task. Most parents just choose the school they went to as a kid, or if they moved away from home in adulthood, they’d just send their kid to the local public school. But if you parent a child with learning differences or behavioral challenges, then just sending them off to school isn’t so easy.

There are several options for education these days, and of course, none of them are perfect. However, I think the most crucial part is choosing a school where your child feels safe and is learning. So, with that in mind, let’s walk through the most common options.

Non-traditional Education Methods.

Homeschool used to be considered the awkward cousin of education options. Still, after a year in lockdown, homeschool has been normalized. Many parents are choosing to continue some form of homeschooling to protect their children from COVID and the Delta variant. Families can do homeschool in many different ways, but the most common is that I’ve heard of is using a curriculum that has everything planned out. You can also choose to join a homeschooling pod, a group of parents who alternate teaching different subjects.

A similar alternative is independent learning through the public school system. The child is signed up for school at a public school and goes into the school building once a week to review their work. The rest of the time, they are completing packets at home. Children who are a good fit for independent learning may have social anxiety, get bored quickly in lectures, or need to move at their own pace.

Of course, not everyone has the time or patience to continue homeschooling; some of us need to get to work. In which case, Unschooling may be a better fit. With Unschooling, children attend a school building, but they are free to learn what interests them. This can feel very controversial because the teachers are only there to support the child’s interests, not dictate what is learned. In addition, there is no curriculum or plan other than the one the child decides.

Hybrid Education Choices.

Charter Schools, I feel, provide a bridge between alternative and traditional methods of teaching. A charter school is created with the idea that smaller classrooms and more individualized education are essential to cultivating learning in children. As a result, some charter schools may focus on supporting specific needs while others do not.

Montessori schools are also in the middle. Like Unschooling, the child “designs” their curriculum, but the teachers offer a more hands-on approach and have goals for the child to meet. Class options are more diverse than a public school, including woodworking, hiking, etc., and less classroom lecture-style learning.

Traditional Schooling Methods.

Private Schools tend to be geared towards learning through a belief system, usually Catholic or other religion. The school teaches firmly from that belief system, and students often wear uniforms and have a more regimented curriculum than other education systems we’re touched on. Private schools can be similar to charter schools because they have small classrooms and may focus on supporting students with specific learning differences. However, they tend to be expensive and hold students to a higher level of learning.

Public Schools are accessible to the public and often can provide academic supports that other education systems cannot, such as in-class aides, special education, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and counseling. Many parents who have children who need additional support with learning will choose a public school because other school systems don’t have these resources. Financially, it can be more economical to send a child who requires these different therapies and support to a public school.

However, it can be challenging to get these services because of the public school system’s constraints. There are very few funds to be used to test and support these students. Often the aid goes to children with the highest need or who are most disruptive in the classroom.

If you seek accommodations for your child in the classroom, regardless of which education system you choose, they will need to participate in a psychoeducational assessment and receive a diagnosis. Working with an assessment center like CDK can help you to fast track your child receiving services.

If you are looking for an assessment to determine what therapeutic and academic services would best benefit your child, please reach out to us at CDK.


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