Many School Options Available to Louisianans

Cheri M. Gioe, Claesgens, Mark A.  |  7/20/2007 11:23:38 PM

2007 Back-to-School News (Distributed 07/13/07)

As a parent or guardian, no one knows your child as you do. You know your child’s personality, strengths, weaknesses and interests. The school you choose should reflect your family’s values and meet your child’s needs.

Therefore, says LSU AgCenter child care expert Cheri Gioe, it is up to you to choose your child’s school with confidence that he/she will be taught effectively and treated fairly. Making your child’s school selection carefully is an important way to help your child succeed.

In Louisiana, parents have many options in choosing an elementary school for their child. These alternatives include:

– Public schools. These neighborhood schools are assigned according to system developed by the school district. Attending a neighborhood public school can make it easy for your child to get to school, to work with classmates on group projects and to visit friends.

– Charter schools. These are public schools of choice that operate with freedom from many of the local and state regulations that apply to traditional public schools. Charter schools allow parents, community leaders, educational entrepreneurs and others educational options. They are often sponsored by designated local, state or other organizations that monitor their quality and integrity while holding them accountable for academic results and fiscal practices.

– Magnet schools. These are designed to attract students from diverse social, economic, ethnic and racial backgrounds by focusing on specific subjects, such as science, technology or the arts. Some magnet schools require students to take an exam or demonstrate knowledge or skill in a specialty to qualify for the school while others are open to students who express an interest in that area.

– Religious private schools. The majority of nonpublic schools are religious. Many are affiliated with a denomination, local church or religious faith such as Roman Catholic, Protestant, conservative Christian, Greek Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or other. These schools not only teach academics but religious foundation based upon the denomination sponsoring the school.

– Private schools. Many nonpublic schools do not have a religious identity or affiliation. These schools often are steeped in tradition or have an elite reputation. Some schools are based on a particular educational philosophy or approach to learning: Montessori or Waldorf schools; schools with a special educational focus, such as schools for the deaf or blind; or schools that have been established for families and children who may be dissatisfied with various aspects of conventional schools.

– Home schools. Home schooling is an option for a growing number of parents. Some parents prepare their own materials and design their own programs of study, while others use materials produced by companies specializing in home school materials.

When reviewing the options available to you, it is important to write down the most important things you have in mind concerning your child’s education. Gioe recommends four steps.

1. Consider your child and your family – keep in mind your child’s need, learning styles, family schedule and school location.

2. Gather information about different schools. Be sure to obtain information regarding the school’s curriculum, philosophy, behavior management policies, extra curricular activities, parental involvement, academic performance, facilities, admission policies and fees.

3. Visit and observe schools that you are interested in. If possible, tour the schools during regular school hours and visit a few classes. Use this time to get a feel for the culture of the school and make sure to meet the principal and some of the teachers. You may even want to ask the school for the names of some of the families attending and contact them with questions.

4. Make applications to the schools you like. Consider applying to more than one school, in case your child is not admitted to your first choice. Be sure to complete all required paperwork and remember to follow up.

For information on related family topics, click on the Family and Home link at the LSU AgCenter Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com
Contact: Cheri Gioe at (225) 578-6701 or cgioe@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Mark Claesgens (225) 578-2939, or mclaesgens@agcenter.lsu.edu

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