Deciding whether to choose a charter school for your children can be overwhelming. You want to make sure you choose a school with resources and invite your child to thrive socially and academically. California has the most charter schools out of every state. It had 1,336 campuses as of 2020. With so many schools to choose from, you probably have many questions. What exactly is a charter school? What unique services and resources do California charter schools offer, and is there a tuition fee? Read on to learn more about charter schools and how they can help your child excel academically and professionally.
What Is A Charter School?
Like public schools, charter schools are tuition-free and publicly funded. Instead, they are funded by the community, non-profit programs, or other organizations and groups. They do not operate under a public school district and are held to rigorous standards and a curriculum determined by a state or local government. This means that charter schools tend to be more challenging than public schools. Your children will be expected to meet state or local government standards. However, most charter schools also have a “parent choice” mindset. Parents tend to be more involved in their children’s education than public schools.
What Are the Benefits?
Although the charter school’s local government expects students to perform well academically, students are also offered more flexibility in terms of scheduling as a reward. Many charter schools offer homeschool options. Parents at California charter schools can choose to homeschool their children full-time, are given a curriculum to follow, and are not expected to generate their own learning material. Some charter schools also offer a hybrid model of learning in which students can learn in a classroom for two to five days.
Additional benefits include field trips, workshops, internships, mentoring programs, and options for career preparation and dual enrollment courses.
Homeschooling enables parents to be more actively involved in their child’s education. This flexibility is excellent for student-athletes, budding actors, or any children who want a schedule that allows them to travel and spend time with their families.
Some California charter schools with homeschool or hybrid options offer additional financial benefits and lack a tuition fee. They offer funds for Chromebooks, online learning modules and textbooks, school events and field trips, and even workshops for parents. If you worry about missing vital moments in your child’s development by sending them away to school every day, homeschooling with a charter school gives you the option to learn and grow alongside them.
Events and Extracurriculars
Many charter schools offer just as many school events and celebrations as public schools, so you won’t have to worry about your child missing critical middle school and high school milestones. Charter schools offer science fairs, spelling bees, talent shows, prom, and more. Additionally, some California charter schools offer field trips that are decidedly more exciting than field trips in other parts of the country—like Disneyland, for example.
Many charter schools offer internship opportunities in these fields if your child is interested in a career path that requires technical skills such as engineering, robots, or anything STEM-related. Your child’s opportunity to participate in an internship even before college allows them to stand out in a pool of qualified college and job applicants. Internships provide real-world experience and exposure that most students don’t receive before their freshman year.
Qualified Staff and Teachers
While some states only require 50% of charter school teachers to be certified or hire teachers who are still actively working towards a certificate, all teachers in California charter schools are required to hold a teaching credential or equivalent document issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
While public schools had to quickly adjust to remote learning during the pandemic and implement some homeschooling methods, charter schools have staff and teachers trained in distance learning. Charter schools also offer individualized learning and a variety of other programs that let teachers work one-on-one with their students.
Your Child’s Education is Your Choice—And Theirs
Public schools are typically established by the district that you reside in. If your house is in a particular school district and you choose to send your child to public school, they must attend that school—regardless of the school’s resources or the quality of its curriculum. Fortunately, charter schools offer an affordable alternative. Charter schools provide a more rigorous curriculum, greater flexibility, and exciting opportunities for field trips and career preparation at no extra cost to you. If you’re looking for a carefully-selected, high-quality curriculum and more flexibility in your child’s schedule, then a charter school might be perfect for you and your family.