Most of us are familiar with the expectations surrounded by the term: school. We picture a brick and mortar building, children sorted by age, a fair amount of seat work, a thirty-minute recess, a thirty-minute lunch, and homework. However, the landscape of education is changing and all of the major research supports anything but “regular” school. If you are looking for something a little different here are some “off the beaten path” options.
Yep, I know – that’s not a school! But, in Texas, it is. Each and everyone is its own private school. The knee-jerk response to homeschooling is generally somewhere between, “I can’t teach my kids!” to “How will those poor children ever make friends?” Good news, Houston, you live not only in a homeschool-friendly state but in a homeschool-friendly city. The opportunities for homeschoolers in Houston are bountiful. In fact, the real problem may be opting out of activities.
Homeschooling is not one size fits all. You can buy a complete box and follow scripted curriculum; you can pick and choose your own math, science, and arts. Additionally, classes, co-ops, and enrichment services are becoming available all over the city.
To get started homeschooling in Texas you merely need to send a letter to your school stating that you are doing so. That’s it! Once you are a homeschooler join our closed facebook group to connect with other homeschoolers across the city or join our public group to dip your toes in the water.
2. Hybrid Programs:
So you like the idea of homeschooling but it seems daunting. This is where the hybrid program comes into play. Hybrid programs choose the curriculum and provide a combination of campus and home days. These are much cheaper than full private schools and a bit more expensive than buying a boxed curriculum.
- Bayou Village School (Near Northside), 3rd – 5th grade
- Legacy Preparatory Christian Academy (The Woodlands), Pre-K – 12th grade
- Logos Preparatory (Sugar Land), K – 12th grade
- PACES PAideaia Classical Education (Conroe),
- Paratus Classical Academy (Spring Valley), Pre-K – 10th grade
- Regina Caeli (Champions & Katy), Pre-K – 12th grade
- Trinity Classical School (Memorial & Heights), Pre-K – 11th grade
3. Acton Academy:
Have you heard of Elon Musk starting a school for his kids and some SpaceX employees’ children? This is that kind of school. Student-led is more than a philosophy at an Acton Academy. The students are called Heroes and the idea is that they are on their own journey and should be the hero of their story. The teachers are Guides. The guides are not there to teach the children but to facilitate their journey. The day starts with Socratic discussion. Then they use technology to spend time individually working on “core skills time” and every six weeks they focus on a project, concluding in an exhibition.
- Talent Unbound (Champions & Galleria)
Have you heard of Steve Jobs? He and loads of Silicon Valley tech execs send their kids to low-tech/ no-tech schools like Waldorf. Waldorf schools are inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s educational philosophies. They strive to bring students to education in a beautiful, gentle natural way that works in pace with child developmental stages. Their methods include activity in learning, spending time outdoors, art, music, language, and movement as integral parts of education. Houston is home to two full-time Waldorf schools and several Waldorf programs for younger children.
- Great Oak School (Tomball), Pre-K – 8th grade
- Bayou Village School (Near Northside), Pre-K – 8th grade
- Tinkergarten (Various), Pre-K
5. À La Carte Education
Imagine choosing the exact course load your kids are taking. That’s what these schools do. Some will utilize them for everything, but many might consider it as an accompaniment to homeschooling. So you cover the basics, they cover the electives or the courses you just don’t want to or feel qualified to teach. These arrangements are great for those needing a very flexible schedule.
- Fusion Academy (The Woodlands, Galleria, Sugar Land), Middle and High School
- Horizons Education Center (Champions), 3rd – 5th grades
- Home Ed Plus (Rice/ Medical Center), K-12
- Home Education Partnership (Pasadena), K-12
- Home Run Ministries (Kingwood), 4th-12th grades
- HIS Classes (Tomball & The Woodlands), 4th – 12th grades
- Houston Home School Education Program (Spring Branch), Pre-K – 8th grade
- Language Arts Academy (Spring/Klein), ages 6-15
- Extraordinary Education (Magnolia), 1st-12th
- PREP Classes (Cypress & Katy), 3rd – 12th grades
- Saint Constantine Trinity Hall (Southwest Houston), K-12
- Schola Classical Homeschool Classes (Sugar Land), K-12
- The Training Center (Conroe & Magnolia), Elementary – 12th grade
- Tomball Classes for Homeschoolers (Tomball), 1st – 12th grade
6. One on One Education
This differs from the pick and choose method above because the curriculum is set and students attend daily like a regular school. The school day is a bit shorter, but otherwise a traditional set up. However, there is only one student for every single teacher. Yep, 1:1.
- Fusion Academy* (The Woodlands, Galleria, Sugar Land), Middle and High School
- Tenney School (Westchase), 6-12
*Fusion is included in this option as well because they offer a complete curriculum as well as individual classes
Montessori schools have become increasingly popular, particularly as an option for Pre-K and early elementary. From the American Montessori Society: “Components necessary for a program to be considered authentically Montessori include multiage groupings that foster peer learning, uninterrupted blocks of work time, and guided choice of work activity. In addition, a full complement of specially designed Montessori learning materials are meticulously arranged and available for use in an aesthetically pleasing environment.”
Houston is home to one Montessori school that follows children all the way through high-school. (HISD does have a Montessori magnet school that goes through 8th grade, but you will need to apply and live in HISD’s attendance area).
- School of the Woods (Spring Branch) Pre-K – 12th grade
Sudbury schools leave the complete responsibility of a child’s education up to that child. The schools themselves are run by direct democracy. There is no prescribed curriculum or instruction. “Teachers” are brought in to teach what children are interested in learning. The school relies on the inherent belief that people are naturally curious and the most profound learning comes from that which the learner seeks out.
- Houston Sudbury School (Inwood/ Acres Homes), mixed K-12th
9. Boarding School
Maybe they aren’t Hogwarts but Houston has two schools that are full boarding schools. Typically, they serve international communities. These are regular schools, not those that are meant to serve students with extreme disabilities or behavior problems.
“People should be free to find or make for themselves the kinds of educational experience they want their children to have.”
― John Holt