If there are charter schools in your area that your child can attend, here are a few things that you need to understand about how charter schools work and operate as a parent. Understanding these things will help you better evaluate your local charter schools and determine if any of them are right for your child.
#1 Charter Schools Are Public Schools
The first thing that you need to understand are that charter schools are public schools. You do not have to pay additional money to send your child to a charter school like you do with a private school. Charter schools accept open enrollment for all students in the school district that they are located in.
It is important to keep in mind thought that since many charter schools have a high level of interest in them, they hold lotteries every year to determine who gets into the school. It is often easier to get into the school during its first years. For example, if the charter school starts in kindergarten, try to get your child in during kindergarten or if the school starts in middle school, try to get them in for 6th grade. After the "starting year" they may accept a limited number of new students, but only to replace those who have left.
If you are interested in a charter school for your child, call and see when you can put your name in for the lottery for a potential spot for your child.
#2 Charter Schools Can Innovate More Easily
Second, one of the advantages of charter schools is that they can innovate more easily because they are not overseen by a traditional school board. Instead, they are run by a small organization of people who are dedicated to that particular charter school's success. Oftentimes in charter schools, the principle and teachers have more freedom to make changes to their curriculum to adjust to the needs of their students. This may mean that your student has access to a more individual education experience depending on how the charter school you are interested in uses this freedom.
#3 Charter Schools Are Unique From One Another
Third, it is important to realize that most charter school, unless they are part of a charter network that all follows the same guiding educational philosophy, are unique from one another. That means that the charter school in your friend's hometown may not be the same as the one in the town that you live in. That is why it is important to ask and find out about the educational philosophy, teacher training and curriculum that the charter schools in your area use. You want to make sure that you agree with the educational philosophy. For example, some charter schools are all about arts-based educations, whereas others are about focusing on science and others are based more on memorization over hands-on based learning.
Charter schools offer great educational opportunities for students; just make sure that you research and find the right type of charter school for your child. You may also need to work with a tutor, like Shandon Tutors, to help transition your child into a new school environment.