Education options can overwhelm parents of soon-to-be kindergarteners. From the public school on the corner to private schools with various educational philosophies to charter schools with specialized curricula, a quick round-up of different schools for kindergarten will help parents make an informed decision about the upcoming school year.

Walk to school

Attending your neighborhood public school offers many benefits to families. Your tax dollars are already funding your child's education, and parents needn't worry about lotteries or open spots. Enrolling in your assigned district often means you're close enough to walk to school — or the district may have a bus option. The majority of students attending your child's school will live in the corresponding neighborhood, making after-school playdates and early-morning carpools easier to coordinate.

Pick a parochial

Parents interested in a school option combining academics with religious beliefs may choose a parochial school. The level of religious education will vary by denomination and the school's philosophy, but parents enroll their children with the understanding that both religion and faith will be a part of the school's curriculum. Parochial schools are tuition-based but many are willing to work with families for tuition assistance or offer lowered rates for families willing to volunteer in various capacities at the associated church.

Going alternative

If a traditional classroom setting doesn't seem like a good fit for your child, there are alternative educational philosophies worth investigating before your child begins kindergarten. Smaller class sizes, multi-aged classrooms and hands-on, investigative approaches have potential to help students thrive.

Montessori and Waldorf are two popular early childhood education approaches. Montessori involves practical exploration of the natural world, and Waldorf focuses on letting children learn through their creativity and imaginations. Many public districts are adding options for families, including arts-based elementary schools and year-round schedules. Check with your neighborhood enrollment offices to see if there are alternative options within your school district.

Choose a charter

State-chartered schools are often established by state universities or non-profit groups. Parents frustrated with issues in their public school districts or those looking for alternative philosophies may choose a charter school. Though operating through both public and private funding, charters are found under the umbrella of public schools and cannot charge tuition. Charter schools are accountable to state education standards and to their sponsor.

Keep them home

If investigating kindergarten options hasn't turned up an option that feels right for your family, perhaps homeschooling will fit. Christina Strickland, owner of Homeschooling in Detroit and a veteran homeschool parent, shares tips about deciding to homeschool and where to begin your family's homeschool journey.

Show your commitment

Whatever choice you make regarding your child's school for kindergarten, remember that staying involved in your child's early childhood education will help them recognize and understand your family's commitment to education.

More about kindergarten

Preparing your child for kindergarten
Sending your baby to school
Surviving kindergarten without preschool

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