A Guide to Different Types of Alternative Education

“Alternative education” is a buzzword that’s been around in recent decades–but what really is it? The fact is, there are many types of alternative learning opportunities for children in today’s world–and each type is designed with different needs and expectations in mind. With so much information out there, researching these options can be daunting–but Options Schools are here to help! We’ve laid out a comprehensive guide to the types of alternative education and how they differ.

Alternative Education is designed to meet the needs of students who are not succeeding in the traditional setting. Students are provided with a variety of options that can lead to graduation and are supported by services essential to success.

While each program is unique, they share the following characteristics:

  • Maximum teacher/student ratio of 1:15
  • Caring faculty with continual staff development
  • School staff having high expectations for student achievement
  • Learning program specific to the student’s expectations and learning style
  • Flexible school schedule with community involvement and support
  • Total commitment to have each student be a success

Not sure which type of schooling is best for your child? Read on to learn more, and contact Options Schools in Noblesville & Westfield, IN, to discover the opportunities we can provide.

Comparing Types of Alternative Education

Charter School

Charter schools are publicly funded and held to the same legal requirements as public schools. The main difference is they function as schools of choice, which means parents have more say in where their children receive their education. Charter schools provide additional opportunities that students wouldn’t necessarily receive in public schools–these can include personalized attention, exploration of trades, college courses & advanced learning programs, and more.

Looking for more info? Read our blog post dispelling common misconceptions about charter schools!

Online Learning

Online learning has gained even more traction since the Covid-19 pandemic forced many schools to function remotely. Virtual learning is a wonderful opportunity for students who have difficulty finding success in a traditional classroom or have disabilities that may prevent them from doing so.

Through Options Indiana, we offer a completely-virtual learning opportunity. Our fully-online program was created to meet the needs of students who don’t thrive in a standard classroom setting. For us, online instruction is an added strength because we’ve been perfecting the program since it launched in 2016.

Private School

Private schools are schools typically centered around a single religion or area of study. They are funded solely by private investors and charge tuition to attend. They also have complete discretion over who is admitted. While they must follow state learning guidelines, they have more freedom over specific curriculums and extracurricular activities.

Montessori School

Montessori schools are based on the method developed by Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. This philosophy follows the principles that children are natural learners and should use their environment, intuition, and natural interests to align their education. It promotes a very hands-on, independent style of learning.

Montessori schools exist for levels of primary schooling but are most popular for children in preschool and elementary school. In the classroom, children are grouped with other age groups, where the older students act as mentors to the younger children. There is a learning curriculum in place, but students are encouraged to work at their own pace.


Homeschooling is a more flexible choice for parents looking for greater control over what their child learns, along with where and when. Children are allowed to learn at their own pace and fit school around family activities instead of vice versa. While the parent is the teacher, they do have to comply with state learning requirements, and students have to complete state testing each year.

Discover the Opportunities with Options Schools

Options Schools are proud to offer a diverse selection of alternative learning opportunities. From our brick-and-mortar charter schools in Noblesville and Westfield, IN, to our completely virtual program and partnerships with local colleges, our students are given the environments they need to thrive. Contact Options Schools today to get started!