Alternatives to traditional public school

Group Of Teenage StudentsMany people feel they have no choices when it comes to choosing a school for their children. They may feel they are stuck in a failing school because their home is zoned for a sub-par school district. Perhaps they feel that tutoring after school is the only way to help a student who is not thriving academically. Maybe their children are performing well academically, but can’t cope with the social pressures of public school. Fortunately, most families do have access to alternatives to traditional public schools, although these options are not always widely publicized.

Here are a few alternatives to traditional public school:

Private School

This is likely the most widely known alternative to public education. Private schools are a good alternative for many students because they often offer specialized programs for those on the college track, those with learning disabilities, or those who crave a smaller class size than a traditional school can accommodate. Private schools are able to offer different learning styles and they are not mandated by the state so they are free to embrace different approaches to curriculum, such as the conversational approach, Montessori, or Waldorf.

Transfer Schools

If you are unhappy with the school your home is zoned for, transferring to a different school or school district might be a possibility for you. This option is only a good choice for those who like the public school system as a whole, but are having difficulty with their particular school, despite efforts to mediate issues with the teachers and school administrators.

To request a transfer, you will need to evaluate the surrounding school districts in your area and determine if they are accepting transfers. Finding a school that is accepting transfers is often the hardest part of the process, as not all schools will accept transfers and those that do may have limited openings. Once you’ve found a school that can accept transfer students, you will need to contact your existing school district for approval to transfer out and submit the required paperwork to initiate the transfer.


Just as the name implies, homeschooling allows you to take the reins on your child’s education and teach them at home. Homeschooling allows you to have the most control over your children’s educational experience, however it also requires the most time and commitment on your part. Under the homeschooling model, the parents are responsible for creating lesson plans, providing the classroom materials, pacing your child’s education and evaluating when your child is ready for advancement. There are many online resources to assist you in your homeschooling journey, such as online forums and local homeschooling groups.

Virtual Public School

This is relatively new option to public school alternatives. Virtual school is basically a hybrid of public school and homeschooling, in that the public school system provides the curriculum and class materials, however parents work together with a virtual teacher to ensure the work is done. The public school district is ultimately responsible for the student’s achievements, the virtual teacher makes up the lesson plans and determines if your child advances to the next grade level, but all work is done at home and submitted online. Students enrolled in virtual public schools are still required to pass standardized tests.

Virtual public school may be a good fit for parents who want to stay home with their children, but don’t feel comfortable creating lesson plans.

Not sure if public school is right for your child? Explore some of the reasons that you may consider alternative school options here.