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Last Upated: August 10, 2021
Each spring, parents face one of the biggest decisions they can make for their child’s future: What school environment will their child will spend about 1,000 hours in next year?
Making that decision with confidence starts with knowing what options you have; you may have more school choices than you realize! Understanding these options can help you find a school where your child grows and learns to the best of their ability. Delaware families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, homeschooling, and learning pods.
Looking for special education options? You can learn what special education services are available in Delaware at the Ultimate Guide to Special Education.
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Most children in Delaware (and in America) attend traditional public schools. Traditional public schools are free to attend, open to all students, operated by school districts, and funded by federal, state, and local government. Each year, Delaware spends an average of $16,315 per public school pupil. You can search your school’s spending and that of nearby schools at Project Nickel.
Delaware has unrestricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that you can send your child to any public school in Delaware, regardless of where you live or where the school is located.Parents are responsible for transportation of students participating in open enrollment.
You can take advantage of this valuable option by visiting multiple public schools near you and discovering which is the best fit for your family. Traditional public schools aren’t all the same: They may differ in learning methods and one may just “feel different” than another to you.
Find out more about public schools in your state: Delaware’s Department of Education.
Families interested in submitting choice applications for participating public school districts and charter schools in Delaware can do so online at SchoolChoiceDE.
Families have another public school choice in charter schools; these are tuition-free public schools that have extra freedom to innovate with earning methods. Sometimes charter schools are compared to sailboats; they not built to serve as many as people as luxury liners are, but it is easier to adjust the sails and change directions with the wind. The innovations charter schools offer can complement traditional public school’s stability. Delaware passed charter school legislation in 1995. Today, Delaware has more than twenty active charter schools, you can find a list of them here.
Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves, whether that be providing a language immersion program or offering a rigorous, literacy-based curriculum. If there are more families seeking admittance to a charter school than there are seats, a lottery system is usually used to determine admittance.
To learn more, you can also check out The Delaware Charter Schools Network.
Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as engineering or the performing arts. At a magnet school, all the subjects are taught through the lenses of that specific track.
Delaware has a few magnet schools scattered throughout the state; this could be a great option if there is one near you and your child learns best by focusing in on a subject they are passionate about. Cab Calloway School of the Arts in the Red Clay Consolidated School District, for instance, allows students to major in dance, digital media, vocal music, theatre arts, and more. Conrad Schools of Science, also in the Red Clay Consolidated School District, offers a life science magnet. In the Indian River School district, Southern Delaware School of the Arts seeks to facilitate student learning through the arts.
You can also choose private school! Private schools come in all shapes and forms, from schools that help pass on a family’s faith tradition to schools designed for children with special needs. You probably know that private schools are nonpublic schools that charge tuition. But did you know that, since 2018, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts?
There are about 130 private schools across the state of Delaware. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $10,490 for elementary schools and $11,707 for high schools. Unfortunately, in Delaware there are no state-run scholarship options for private schools, but private scholarships may be available.
Whether your child wants to accelerate learning or needs a quieter, anxiety-free environment in which to focus, you may be interested in trying virtual school. Most states have free online school programs, but Delaware does not at this time. Paid options are available, such as George Washington University Online High School, The Keystone School, and K12 International Academy. These private online schools are available to families in Delaware, but they are not specific to the state.
Delaware parents can also choose homeschooling, the process of parents educating students at home. Homeschooling is permitted in all 50 states.
In Delaware, the state requires notice of your intent to homeschool before establishing yourself as a homeschool and annually before October 5th. You should also notify your public school of your intent to withdraw. In the case that you decide to switch back to public school in the middle of the school year, you should be aware that the classes your students have been working in may not be accepted by the school. It is up to the school to decide what grade to place your child in.
You can find a great how-to about Delaware homeschooling at Homeschool Legal Defense Association’s state page. You can also check out the Department of Education’s homeschooling page or Tri-State Homeschool, Inc.
Micro-schools, pods, pandemic pods, and learning pods all refer to the same concept: students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Pods themselves can take a variety of legal forms, but in general they can be separated into two categories: self-directed pod (homeschool, homeschool collaborative, or micro-school) and learning support pod. It’s important to understand what kind of pod you are signing up for and the requirements that go along with it. Learn more about learning pods.
If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Delaware. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA here.
If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. You can read more about what Delaware classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.
If your child is going to be enrolled in remote learning through your local public school and supervised by an adult in your learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling in a full-time private online school for a fee.
National School Choice Week 2022 will take place January 23 – 29, 2022. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Check out ideas, inspiration, and more information!
Delaware celebrated National School Choice Week 2021 with 99 virtual events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in Delaware.
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