People relocating to Denver with children will be pleased to find that education is highly valued in the state of Colorado, evidenced by the fact that Denver has one of the highest per capita education levels in the US.
There is plenty of choice when it comes to schooling options in Denver. There are several primary and secondary school options at both private and public institutions, including charter and magnet schools. There are also some international schools in Denver that follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme and various other foreign curricula.
Public schools in Denver
Public schools in Denver are free to attend and open to all students, including foreigners. New arrivals will also be pleased to know that Denver is home to some of the best public schools in the state of Colorado.
On top of this, public schools in Denver offer open enrolment, which means that students can apply to the school of their choice. In effect, 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 their 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 uphold the state curriculum, they have a greater degree of freedom when it comes to teaching methods. Charter schools tend to be more innovative and flexible than traditional public schools.
Magnet schools are public schools with specialised courses or curricula in areas such as science or the arts. They're associated with high achievement and cultural diversity. These schools attract a range of students from all over the Denver metro area.
Both Charter and Magnet schools are viable options for parents looking for an affordable but elevated standard of education for their children. Admission can be competitive, and waiting lists can be long – lottery systems are often used to confirm enrolment.
See Education and Schools in the USA for more on the national education system.
Private and international schools in Denver
There are many private schools in metro Denver which tend to offer a broader range of facilities than is 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 who are only planning to 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 to make the transition to life in Denver.
The majority of international schools in the Denver metro area follow the International Baccalaureate curriculum, and several 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, but it's essential to understand the requirements families must follow before selecting an option.
The basic law for homeschooling in Denver is that all students aged between six and 17 must attend school 172 days a year. Reading, writing, speaking, maths, history, literature, science, civics and US Constitution are all compulsory classes. Aside from these mandates, parents will have three options when it comes to homeschooling.
The first option is to enrol the child in an independent school which serves as an 'umbrella' for homeschoolers. 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 programme. For this option, parents must 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 such as recording attendance and testing.
Homeschooling in Denver may feel like a daunting task, but there are many groups and organisations that can support parents in this journey.
- Organisations such as the Northern Colorado Homeschool Association and Denver Area Unschoolers are some of the most popular homeschooling groups in Denver.
Special-needs education in Denver
Denver's education system is equipped to provide for students with learning and developmental disabilities. There are multiple federal laws in place to ensure that children with disabilities have fair access to quality education at no cost.
Both public and private schools in the city have special programmes in place to support students with learning difficulties and disabilities. In cases where a person's disability is too severe for them to benefit from mainstream education, there are special education facilities that can offer students an individualised special-needs programme tailored to meet their specific requirements.
Tutors in Denver
Whether a child has fallen behind in maths class, needs help with adjusting to English language instruction, or requires additional support to help prepare them for their college entrance exams, there are plenty of private tutors in Denver. There are also many schools in the city that offer tutoring or academic assistance to their students, either for free or at a discounted rate.
It's wise to start the search for a tutor by asking the child's school or other parents in the area for a recommendation. Alternatively, one could utilise the services of established tutoring companies. These companies offer an array of packages, from subject-specific intensive programmes to one-on-one home tuition and small group sessions. Wash Park Tutors and Varsity Tutors are two such companies.
Are you an expat living in Denver?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Denver. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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