What are the Alternatives to Public School in 2024 (Hint: They’re Growing)

Updated on:
Published on:
 minute read

In 2024, more and more parents are looking into options beyond public school. 

From private schools to microschools, the world of educational choice is expanding. 

This blog is here to help you understand why parents are making the switch and to explore the variety of options available near you.

What are common reasons parents seek alternatives to public schooling? 

Have you ever wondered why some parents choose alternatives to public schooling for their kids?

 Let's explore some of the reasons together: 

Dissatisfaction with curriculum: Many parents feel the public school curriculum doesn't always meet their child's learning needs and may not align with their values. They seek a more tailored educational experience that can better address their child's strengths and interests

Concerns over environment:  Issues like bullying, large class sizes, and lack of individual attention can drive parents to seek other options. A supportive and safe learning environment is crucial for a child's education and well-being.

Desire for personalized education: Some children require a different approach or learning environment that traditional public schools may not provide.

Need flexibility in their child’s education: Online classes, homeschooling, microschooling, and other options allow students to learn at their own pace and according to their own schedules, providing a more personalized education.

Quality of education: Alternative educational settings may offer higher quality education or better prepare children for future challenges. Parents often seek environments where their children can thrive academically.

Health and safety concerns: Ongoing concerns about physical safety, mental health, and well-being within the traditional public school system have prompted many parents to explore other options. The impact of COVID-19 and increasing concern around gun crime in the U.S. has further highlighted these issues.

What alternatives are out there?


Microschools are tight-knit groups of about 10 kids learning together under the direction of a microschool “guide.” They vary in learning approach and format but are typically personalized and focused on fostering a sense of self-efficacy. Prenda is one of the largest microschool networks in the country and can help you bring a microschool into your community. 

If you want more information about how to find a microschool or, better yet—how to start your own microschool, check out our Microschooling 101 video

Private schools

Private schools operate independently of the public education system. They don’t accept public funds and aren’t bound by the regulations that come with public funding. Families usually need to apply and be accepted. These schools have full control over their curriculum and teaching methods. Private school students aren’t required to take state standardized tests, and while they don’t have to provide special education services, many choose to do so. In some states, private schools must be “accredited,” meaning a trusted third-party evaluator has reviewed and approved their learning approach and management procedures.

Boarding school

Boarding schools are a form of private school that provides education as well as living accommodations for their students. They are typically known for rigorous academic and extracurricular programs. 

Boarding schools generally have a strong focus on character development and self-discipline, offering a more immersive educational experience. Students live on-site, which integrates life skills and independence into the educational program.

Parochial schools

Parochial schools are a form of private school that is affiliated with a religious organization and integrates religious education into the daily curriculum. They focus on the moral and spiritual development of students along with academic learning.

Parochial schools incorporate faith into their core curriculum, which public schools are prohibited from doing. They often have a community-oriented atmosphere with shared values among students and staff.

Charter school

Charter schools are part of the public education system, funded by taxpayer dollars, and held to the same standards and regulations as public schools, including special education services. However, they aren’t restricted to specific areas within a district. Anyone can apply, and the school must accept all applicants unless it’s at capacity. Charter schools operate independently from the school district, with more flexibility in how they run. They often choose a specific focus, like performing arts, STEM, or leadership, giving the school a unique culture. Be sure to check what services and supports are available, as charter schools might receive less funding for transportation, meals, and special education.


Homeschool is just what it sounds like—educating your children at home. Parents or tutors teach the children instead of sending them to a traditional public or private school. Homeschooling is usually funded by the parents. 


Unschooling is a form of homeschooling that is child-led and interest-based, with no fixed curriculum. It emphasizes learning through life experiences, personal interests, and familial interaction.

Unschooling does not follow a traditional curriculum or grading system, focusing instead on the child’s interests and real-world experiences. It rejects the formal structure of classrooms and standardized education, which is a hallmark of the public school system.

Homeschool co-ops

Homeschool co-ops combine resources among multiple homeschooling families to offer group learning experiences. Parents share teaching responsibilities, providing social interaction and access to specialized subjects.

There are also different learning approaches and philosophies to consider: 


The Montessori educational approach emphasizes self-directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaborative play. It focuses on fostering natural development with age-appropriate learning tasks.

Distance learning

Distance learning or online school offers flexibility in scheduling and pace, unlike the fixed hours of public schools. It reduces the need for physical presence, which contrasts with the compulsory attendance requirements of traditional schools. Public schools, private schools, charter schools, etc, may offer distance learning.


The Waldorf approach focuses on holistic education that integrates academics, arts, and practical skills. It emphasizes creativity and imaginative learning with a curriculum that unfolds in developmental stages.

Waldorf schools delay the use of electronic media and encourage learning through artistic expression and hands-on activities, unlike the technology-driven focus in many public schools. They follow a distinct educational philosophy that prioritizes developmental readiness over age-based criteria.

How difficult is it to make the switch out of public school? 

Making the switch from public school to an alternative education program can seem daunting, but it's not as complicated as it might seem. 

Each state has its own rules and regulations, so be sure to check out the specific requirements for your state. Some states have straightforward procedures, while others might require more paperwork or steps to withdraw your child from public school officially. 

Typically, the first step is to inform your local school district of your intention to withdraw your child. This might involve writing a formal letter or filling out specific forms provided by the district. Once the withdrawal is complete, you can begin the exciting process of enrolling your child in an alternative education program, whether it's another type of school or a homeschooling program. Each option will have its unique requirements for enrollment, so be sure to do your research.

It's important to remember that transitioning from public school to an alternative can involve an adjustment period for your child, both academically and socially. The difficulty of this transition can vary based on your child's adaptability and the alternative you choose. So remember to be patient and supportive during this time of change!

How to know if it’s the right time to seek an alternative 

It might be the right time to seek an alternative if:

  • Your child consistently seems unhappy or disconnected from their current school environment.
  • Your child's educational needs are not being met, which may show in declining grades, a lack of interest in schoolwork, or feedback from teachers.
  • Efforts to address your concerns with the school have not resulted in improvements.
  • The school environment is negatively impacting your child’s mental health or social development, showing signs of stress, anxiety about school, or being affected by bullying.
  • A potentially better educational option that better fits your child’s interests, abilities, or your family’s values is available nearby.

When microschooling might be the right alternative to your child’s public school 

How do you know if microschooling is the best education option for your child? 

Well, microschooling may be the right option for you if you want:

  • a small, personalized learning environment;
  • greater flexibility in curriculum choice;
  • the opportunity for your kids to learn at their own pace;
  • your kids to love learning again!

And Prenda microschools have even more benefits, such as access to 24/7 math tutoring, a dedicated academic coach, and typically about 20 hours of class time per week. 

So, if you’re a parent looking to find a microschool for your child near you, go here.  

If you can’t find a microschool near you, become a guide yourself! We make it so easy! Go here for an amazing course that will walk you through everything you need to know. 

Prenda’s microschool management system and learning approach are intentionally designed to help you run a microschool whether you have education experience or not.

Starting a microschool truly is an amazing experience. 

And don’t just take it from us.

Take it from Heather: 

"I went to a Prenda info session and loved everything I heard but was unsure about leaving my job and pulling my kids from public school. I was nervous that I didn't have what it took to teach, and leaving the only system I knew seemed scary and crazy. We made the jump, and I started a microschool with my own two children and four additional learners. My students love coming to school every day so much that going home is the most challenging transition... I find that my life has slowed down to a pace where I can be present and enjoy every moment. Thank you to Prenda for offering this life-changing experience." 

—Heather, Prenda guide

If you are curious about starting your own microschool, take our FREE 30-minute course: The Beginner's Guide to Microschooling.‍ Or, if you’re ready to jump right in, Create a Prenda World account today and start designing your future microschool. 

Whether you become a guide, find a microschool near you, or just jumpstart your journey towards more joy and peace at home (by checking out our awesome content designed to help you help kids unlock their motivation, hold on to their love of learning, and live powerful, purposeful lives), we’re excited to have you join us on our mission of empowering learners. 

Don't forget to share this post!