Your Child's Education — What Are Your Options? By Melissa WrightParents who want what is best for their children can choose from many different school options, including public, charter, online, private, homeschool hybrid, and homeschool/homeschool groups. Which one is the best fit for your child? Here are some things for parents to consider when making this important decision. Public SchoolsSince they are funded by state and local taxes, public schools require no tuition to attend. They are conveniently located in the community where you live, so school friends will likely live nearby. Transportation is provided, and low-income students receive free or reduced fee meals. As for academics, all teachers must be certified, and each school is held to state standards, which are regulated to ensure compliance. However, public schools generally have larger student-to-teacher ratios than other education options, and due to state standards, teachers have less flexibility in curriculum. Students are also required to participate in standardized testing, which takes away from instruction time.Charter SchoolsCharter schools are another option in which parents do not have to pay tuition for their children to attend. Many require students to wear uniforms, which cuts down on the cost of school clothes, concern about what to wear, and following a dress code. Low-income students receive free or reduced costs for meals. Charter schools can also be more creative with their curriculum, offering specialized classes based on the charter. Unfortunately, charter schools “receive 64% less funding” than public schools, which affects teacher salaries and student supplies, (NewMiddleClassDad.com). They also must take the same standardized tests as public schools.Online SchoolsIn Cherokee County, parents may choose online charter schools or online public schools run by the county. Both options are funded by state taxes and require no additional tuition. Online classes allow for more flexibility, and students can work at their own pace from home. This flexibility is helpful to students who have medical issues, social anxiety, or busy schedules. But, if students are not motivated or able to work on their own, they can find themselves falling behind. Teachers are not present during instruction and typically are only available by email. Since class size is larger than in-person education, the student may have to wait a longer time to receive help. Online learning also makes hands-on learning and group learning more difficult, and younger students require significant parental oversight to monitor their progress. Private SchoolsParents interested in smaller class sizes and specialized instruction might choose a private school for their children. Some private schools are religious in nature, and some specialize in the specific academic needs of the student. Since they aren’t government funded, private schools have more flexibility with curriculum. However, private schools are expensive, with the average cost in Georgia being $11,451 per year (PrivateSchoolReview.com/tuition-stats/georgia). And private schools don’t have to meet state standards. Unlike public schools, they can hire teachers who are not certified. Low-income students also do not receive free or reduced meals, and parents must provide transportation to and from school.Homeschool HybridStudents attending homeschool hybrids have 2-3 days of class and homeschool on the remaining days. According to “How Hybrid Schools are Reshaping Education,” hybrids offer benefits of both a private school and homeschool (DefconNews.com). Classes tend to be smaller and have more curriculum flexibility. For homeschool students, hybrids provide the opportunity to receive instruction from teachers and socialization with fellow students.While homeschool hybrids can be expensive, they are more affordable than private schools. Since classes don’t meet every day, students must have someone to teach them or to provide oversight on homeschool days, and they also must be motivated to work independently.Homeschool/Homeschool GroupsHomeschool parents have control over the curriculum and what their student is learning, and kids can learn at their own pace. Teaching methods can also be more varied and may consist of more hands-on options and offsite learning experiences. Homeschool groups provide opportunities for students to socialize and participate in extracurricular activities. The drawback of homeschool is that parents cannot be experts in all subjects, so teaching gets more difficult in middle and high school. Parents may need to arrange for a tutor or share teaching responsibilities with other parents who have a better mastery of certain subjects, so children don’t fall behind academically.Parents should research these options to make the best choice for their child. Be sure to schedule school visits and ask questions about student/teacher ratios, safety protocols, qualifications of teachers, and the curriculum. Reading online reviews and talking with other parents about their experiences is also a great idea.