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With parents and kids sharing workspaces, dining tables turned into classrooms and pets now a part of Zoom meetings, school – of every kind – has looked quite different since March. With a new school year starting, parents are weighing their options – and there are more than you might think when it comes to your child’s education. The choices are plentiful and diverse, and there is a right fit for each family.

·               Traditional public school - The most popular choice comes with many perks like sports and clubs, as well as resources for special needs or accelerated programs. Teri Brinkman, executive director of strategic communications with Greenville County Schools, said the curriculum is not scripted and that the state generally updates the curriculum every seven years to stay current. She noted that public schools embrace diversity in their student body and with their teachers, adding that the men and women employed by the school system are their greatest asset. 

●              Virtual public school - There are a few options for this now, including individual districts with their own virtual programs. Students attend classes online and complete assignments at home. Teachers are certified and provide real feedback to their students like a traditional classroom. Joshua Kitchens is the executive director for Connections Academy in South Carolina, and he noted that students can work at a faster or slower pace as they need, with greater flexibility than a traditional public school. Families can easily enroll online

●              Private school - Families who want a little more control over what their children are being taught while sending them to a traditional classroom might choose a private school. Perhaps they choose it for a more religious education or a certain trait the school might promise. Christ Church Episcopal School’s director of communications, Jamie Bryant, said students are taught leadership skills, self-discovery and how to have a servant attitude. The curriculum is carefully thought out with high expectations for students.

●              Traditional homeschooling - Here, parents are the teachers and they can take a leading role in their child’s education. Families can pick a curriculum that works best for them. Katie Smith, who has been homeschooling her three children for several years, said homeschooling can give families the flexibility to turn anything into a learning experience. Children must still follow a 180-day education plan and include the basics of reading, writing, math, social studies and science. There are several homeschooling organizations across South Carolina to help families figure out what plans work best for them.

●              Hybrid school - If the idea of homeschooling appeals to you, but you know you’re not a teacher, a hybrid school might be appealing. Here, students attend class with other children two or three days a week, but then stay home to work independently (or with a parent) the other days. Blythe Beaumont with Clemson Classical Academy said this type of schooling is more of a work environment, giving students a chance to gain real experiences they couldn’t get in a traditional school setting. There are hybrid schools popping up all over the country and more are coming into the Upstate each year.

●              Charter schools - These are public schools tailored to meet a certain need in their student body. There are 17 Upstate charters schools in the South Carolina Public Charter School District. Lakes and Bridges in Easley designed to create an optimal learning environment for children with dyslexia. Teachers are trained to teach a certain model that helps these children thrive. Charter schools have a focus, and many families either feel it can meet a child’s need or a desire for their family dynamic. 

No matter what path your family decides to take, your child’s education is the most important decision you can make for them and will shape their future for the better. 

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