Expats relocating to Denver with children will be pleased to find that education and learning are priorities throughout the state of Colorado. This is exemplified by the fact that metro Denver has one of the highest per capita education levels in the USA.
There is plenty of choice when it comes to schooling options in Denver. Both public and private schools offer several primary and secondary school options, including charter and magnet schools. There are also some international schools in Denver which follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme and various other foreign curricula.
Public schools in Denver
Public schools in Denver offer open enrolment, which means that students can apply for the school of their choice. In effect, expat parents who choose to send their child to a public school in Denver won’t be limited by geographic location and can instead select a school for their child based on individual student needs. As part of the application process, parents submit forms listing their top five school choices. Schools then admit students based on space availability.
Charter and magnet schools
Charter schools are institutions that receive funding from the local district and the state of Colorado. While these schools are approved by the local school district, they have a greater degree of freedom when it comes to teaching methods and curricula.
Magnet schools are public schools with specialised courses or curricula, in areas such as science or the arts. These schools attract a range of students from all over the Denver metro area.
Private and international schools in Denver
There are a large number of private schools in metro Denver which tend to offer a wider range of facilities than are usually found at public schools. Many of these schools offer education based on a particular religion or alternative teaching philosophy. There are also those which teach a foreign curriculum, known as international schools.
International schools are often a good choice for expats. particularly those planning to only stay in Denver for a short period. Though fees are typically high, attending an international school allows expat children to meet other international students and assists them in being better equipped in making the transition to life in Denver.
The majority of international schools in the Denver metro area follow the International Baccalaureate curriculum and a number of these schools offer language immersion classes.
Homeschooling in Denver
The state of Colorado provides parents with some flexibility in how they choose to homeschool their children. However, it's important to understand the requirements families need to follow before choosing an option.
The basic laws for homeschooling in Denver is that all students aged 6 to sixteen need to attend school 172 days a year. Reading, writing, speaking, math, history, literature, science, civics, and US constitution are all compulsory classes. Aside from these musts, parents will have three options when it comes to homeschooling.
The first option is to enrol the child in an independent school. Though the child is enrolled at the school, they can still be taught at home. The school must keep records of the child's education. Under this option, parents won't have to send notices to the school district, keep attendance or worry about testing and evaluation.
Secondly, there's the traditional home-based program. For this option, parents are required to file a homeschool letter of intent to their state school district at least two weeks before homeschooling begins. They then have to file this letter annually until their child finishes school. Students also need to be tested regularly by taking a standardised test or being evaluated by a certified teacher or licensed psychologist to show their academic progress. Parents will also have to keep strict records of attendance and testing or evaluation results.
Finally, parents can choose to hire a Colorado state-certified teacher to teach their children at their home. With this option parents are exempt from requirements like recording attendance and testing.
Homeschooling in Denver may feel like a daunting task; however, there are many groups and organisations that can support parents in this journey like the Northern Colorado Homeschool Association.