Resources › For Educators Effective Learning Environment and School Choice Share Flipboard Email Print Media Photos/Vetta/Getty Images For Educators Teaching An Introduction to Teaching Tips & Strategies Policies & Discipline Community Involvement School Administration Technology in the Classroom Teaching Adult Learners Issues In Education Teaching Resources Becoming A Teacher Assessments & Tests Elementary Education Secondary Education Special Education Homeschooling By Derrick Meador Education Expert M.Ed., Educational Administration, Northeastern State University B.Ed., Elementary Education, Oklahoma State University Derrick Meador, M.Ed., is the superintendent for Jennings Public Schools in Oklahoma. He previously served as a school principal and middle school science teacher. our editorial process Derrick Meador Updated March 06, 2017 There are several alternatives available when it comes to the type of education that a child can receive. Parents today have more choices than ever. The primary factor that parents have to weigh is the overall setting that they want their child to be educated in. It is also important for parents to examine the individual needs and make up of the child and the financial state they are in when deciding which learning environment is the right fit. There are five essential options when it comes to education a child. Those include public schools, private schools, charter schools, homeschooling, & virtual/online schools. Each of these options provides a unique setting and learning environment. There are pros and cons of each these choices. However it is important that parents understand that no matter which option they provide for their child, they are the most important people when it comes to the quality of education their child receives. Success is not defined by the type of schooling you received as a young person. Each of the five options has developed a lot of people who were successful. The key factors in determining the quality of education a child receives is the value that their parents place on education and the time they spend working with them at home. You can put almost any child in any learning environment and if they have those two things, they are typically going to be successful. Likewise, children who do not have parents that value education or work with them at home have odds that are stacked against them. This is not to say that a child cannot overcome these odds. Intrinsic motivation plays a major factor too and a child that is motivated to learn will learn no matter how much their parents do or do not value education. The overall learning environment does play a role in the quality of education a child receives. It is important to note that the best learning environment for one child may not be the best learning environment for another. It is also important to remember that the importance of the learning environment decreases as parental involvement in education increases. Each potential learning environment can be effective. It is important to look at all the options and make the best decision for you and your child. Public Schools More parents choose public schools as their child’s option to education than all of the other options. There are two primary reasons for this. First public schooling is free and many people cannot afford to pay for their child’s education. The other reason is that it is convenient. Every community has a public school that is easily accessible and within reasonable driving distance. So what makes a public school effective? The truth is that it isn’t effective for everyone. More students will end up dropping out of public schools than they will any of the other options. This doesn’t mean that they don’t offer an effective learning environment. Most public schools provide students who want it with terrific learning opportunities and provide them with a quality education. The sad reality is that public schools receive more students than any other option who don’t value education and who do not want to be there. This can take away from the overall effectiveness of public education because those students typically become distractions who interfere with learning. The overall effectiveness of the learning environment in public schools is also affected by the individual state funding allotted to education. Class size is particularly affected by state funding. As class size increases, the overall effectiveness does decrease. Good teachers can overcome this challenge and there are many excellent teachers in public education. The educational standards and assessments developed by each individual state also impact a public school’s effectiveness. As it stands right now, public education amongst the states are not created equally. However the development and implementation of the Common Core State Standards will remedy this situation. Public schools provide students who want it with a quality education. The main problem with public education is that the ratio of students who want to learn and those who are only there because they are required are much closer than those in the other options. The United States is the only education system in the world that accepts every student. This will always be a limiting factor for public schools. Private Schools The biggest limiting factor concerning private schools is that they are expensive. Some provide scholarship opportunities, but the truth is that most Americans simply cannot afford to send their child to a private school. Private schools typically have a religious affiliation. This makes them ideal for parents who want their children to receive a balanced education between traditional academics and core religious values. Private schools also have the ability to control their enrollment. This not only limits class size which maximizes effectiveness, it also minimizes students who will be distractions because they don’t want to be there. Most parents who can afford to send their children to private schools value education which translates to their children valuing education. Private schools are not governed by the state laws or standards that public schools are. They can create their own standards and accountability standards which are usually tied to their overall goals and agenda. This can strengthen or weaken a school’s overall effectiveness depending on how rigorous those standards are. Charter Schools Charter schools are public schools that receive public funding, but are not governed by many of the state laws concerning education that other public schools are. Charter schools typically focus on specific subject area such as mathematics or science and provide rigorous content that exceed state expectations in those areas. Even though they are public schools they are not accessible to everyone. Most charter schools have limited enrollment which students must apply for and be accepted to attend. Many charter schools have a waiting list of students who want to attend. Charter schools are not for everyone. Students who have struggled academically in other settings will likely fall even further behind in a charter school as the content can be difficult and rigorous. Students who value education and want to earn scholarships and further their education would benefit from charter schools and the challenge that they present. Homeschooling Homeschooling is an option for those children who have a parent that does not work outside the home. This option allows a parent to be in total control of their child’s education. Parents can incorporate religious values into their child’s daily education and are usually better attuned to their child’s individual educational needs. The sad truth about homeschooling is that there are many parents who try to home school their child that are simply not qualified. In this case, it deeply impacts a child negatively and they fall behind their peers. This is not a good situation to put a child in as they will have to work extremely hard to ever catch up. While the intentions are likely good, the parent should realistically have an understanding of what their child needs to learn and how to teach them. For those parents who are qualified, homeschooling can be a positive experience. It can create an endearing bond between the child and the parent. Socialization can be a negative, but parents who want to can find plenty of opportunities through activities such as sports, church, dance, martial arts, etc. for their child to socialize with other children their age. Virtual/Online Schools The newest and hottest educational trend is virtual/online schools. This type of schooling allows students to receive public education and instruction from the comfort of home through the Internet. The availability of virtual/online schools has exploded over the past few years. This can be a terrific option for children who struggle in a traditional learning environment, need more one on one instruction, or have other issues such as pregnancy, medical issues, etc. Two major limiting factors can include the lack of socialization and then need for self motivation. Much like homeschooling, students need some socialization with peers and parents can easily provide these opportunities for children. Students also have to be motivated to stay on schedule with virtual/online schooling. This can be difficult if a parent is not there to keep you on task and to ensure that you complete your lessons on time.