Ready for Back To School 2020?  Do you need to consider alternative school options rather than the traditional Brick and Mortar Model?

It’s scary to think about having to handle a few more months of Coronavirus, let alone the anticipated 2nd wave in the fall and winter. Due to this possibility, however, you must soon decide if you are comfortable sending your kiddo(s) back to regular, in-person schooling, or if it might be time to consider alternative schooling versus the Traditional Brick-and-Mortar model. Or for those schools that have already implemented remote learning or a hybrid of in-school with remote learning, you may want to complement with some alternative school options.

Most alternative education falls within 3 categories. The first is online schooling which is based on the state curriculum and is essentially a public/private school taught virtually. Second is homeschooling, a flexible approach, where the parent or tutor is responsible for the curriculum and achieving the necessary state guidelines or milestones per grade.  Third is unschooling, a version of relaxed homeschooling (accepted by all 50 states) where learning is guided by the child’s interests and goals.

Personal experience aside, where my daughter has enjoyed advanced online schooling for the last 5 years, and achieved an Associate Degree from a reputable college at the age of 16, while my younger son is learning with a mixed opportunity of both in-person and virtual instruction, alternative education can be a great option for your family, at least during this pandemic. However, this non traditional approach may not be for everyone, but it's worth exploring given the uncertain length of this crisis and the necessity of remote learning.

Here are options you might want to consider should you have doubts about your child’s current education or are curious to try something new:

Online Schools 

These K-12 online schools below are all accredited institutions with licensed teachers. Most offer a full online curriculum with flexible, self-paced learning either from pre-recorded, online lessons or live, virtual classes, or both. Most also offer live, virtual homerooms, assemblies, and clubs where students can interact together in real-time. Some even offer in-person field trip opportunities. 

Alpha-Omega Academy
Grades 3-12
Tuition – Christian Private School

Apex Learning
Grades 9-12
Tuition – Private School – self-guided with available tutors

Calvert Academy
Grades k-12
Tuition – Private School

Fusion Academy
Grades 6-12
Tuition – one-on-one instruction (virtual/in-person) full curriculum or credit recovery
Locations: Englewood, Cherry Hill, Princeton, Morristown, Montclair

Global Village School
Grades k-12
Tuition – Private School with Holistic Approach

Heritage Online School
Grades 3-12
Tuition – Christian Private School – parent/tutor led

Grades k-12
FREE for certain programs and states
Tuition – Private School for other states including NJ & NY

Keystone Academy
Grades k-12
Tuition – Private School

International Virtual Learning Academy  
Grades k-12
Tuition – Private school

OBridge Academy
Grades 6-12
Tuition – Private School, Full or partial curriculum

Pearson Online Academy
Grades k-12
Tuition – Private School


Should you choose to homeschool and create your own curriculum for your child, this does not mean you are all alone. Below are schools and apps/websites offering guidance and materials, lesson plans and instruction to aid in your child’s educational success. Included also is a website with a few links to simple rules and requirements for homeschooling in New Jersey.

Be sure to read about New Jersey Homeschool Requirements and how to switch from public/private school to homeschooling, record-keeping advice, graduation requirements, re-enrolling in public school if need-be, as well as many other helpful resources for the homeschooling family in NJ.

Apex Learning
Grades 6-12
Provides digital materials to support your middle and high school student’s education. One can purchase the lessons and materials or a full course for credit. Core and elective courses are available.

Calvert Academy
Grades k-12
Although this Academy offers a full accredited program, they also provide the homeschooling family support and materials a parent/tutor might want to incorporate within their own curriculum.

Liberty Online Christian Academy
Grades k-12
Tuition here will give you access to materials you might want and need for your chosen curriculum. They offer a-la-carte lessons and lesson plans or 8 full associate tracks which allow the graduate student to achieve their Associates Degree from Liberty University.

Adapted Math
Fun math lessons and games for elementary school students

Khan Academy
Free, quality video instruction and games for all grades in math, science, arts & humanities, language arts, computing, life skills as well as test prep.

Interactive website with lessons and games for all grades and core subject.

Unschooling Approach

Unschooling is an informal and flexible learning style advocating for your child’s interests and passions. This does not mean it is less valuable than the traditional schooling we are used to. Rather, it is a wonderful method to foster a child’s main interest as it relates to every other skill necessary to succeed in the world. Unschooling is not yet mainstream and therefore a parent/tutor is usually left to their own devises according to their child’s needs, however, in NJ, there are a few in-person and virtual options which support this type of education.

Cottage School
Grades PS-8
Tuition – in-person Mendham, NJ
Play-based elementary and middle school fostering the love of learning as it pertains to the child’s interests and passions for discovery.

Jersey Shore Free School
Grades K-12
Tuition – in-person Little Silver, NJ
Democratic school, modeled after the Sudbury school system, where the child chooses exactly what they want to do throughout the day, whether it is to read, learn a new math skill online, go out for a nature hike, teach themselves how to play an instrument, or play video games. This school fosters the child’s desires.

New School of Monmouth County
Grades K-8
Tuition – in-person Holmdel, NJ
Hands-on, project-based, structured-learning, geared toward exploration and teamwork.

Princeton Learning Cooperative
Grades 8-12
Tuition with scholarships available (in-person Princeton, NJ, and virtual).
Students can choose from a full schedule of class options taught by current and retired educators and professors. One-on-one and small group classes are available throughout the day, in person and online. Each student is also assigned a mentor to best assist them educationally as well as personally.

Raritan Learning Cooperative
Grades 8-12
Tuition with scholarships available (in-person Flemington, NJ, and virtual).
Students can choose from a full schedule of class options taught by current and retired educators and professors. One-on-one and small group classes are available throughout the day, in person and online. Each student is also assigned a mentor to best assist them educationally as well as personally.

South Jersey Sudbury School
Grades k-12
Tuition – in-person Medford, NJ.
A Sudbury Model based school empowering kids to learn at their own pace, through their own passions and curiosities while fostering freedom, responsibility, and community values. The students create their own curriculum according to their goals and aspirations.

The above are but a few alternative options when it comes to education. There are so many wonderful opportunities for kids to learn and grow. Every child and their learning styles are different, however, it truly is possible for kids to love school and love learning; you just have to find the right option for them. 

Enjoy this exciting journey toward finding your child’s best educational match. Be certain to contact each admissions counselor first to ensure all your questions are answered. We look forward to hearing about your research and adventures. Feel free to contact us with any questions or relevant stories and experiences. 

Please also visit our online school directory for more ideas to support your child's learning. 

(Please note, the intention of this article is to list out of the box ideas. Any ideas listed here should be fully researched by each family to determine if it's right for your child. We are in no way recommending any one option).