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Chicago is home to the third largest schooling district in the USA. The standard of education and schools in Chicago is variable, ranging from excellent to dismal. Nevertheless, there is a wide range of options for parents to choose from when it comes to educating their children in the Windy City; there are public, private and international schools in Chicago, and the choice of school will depend on many factors, including budget, proximity to a particular school or neighbourhood, and the specific educational needs of the child.

Public schools in Chicago

Public schools are largely attended based on school zones, decided by address. Parents should visit the schools and talk to the school board to explore their options before their children attend. The better public schools tend to be in the more affluent areas of the city, and choosing the right neighbourhood in relation to good schools is a crucial aspect of a move to Chicago.

Parents also have the option of sending their child to a charter or magnet school in Chicago. These schools have more flexibility in terms of their academic programmes and curricula. They also have their own admission requirements which may differ from mainstream public schools. In most cases, they are also not subject to the same attendance boundaries, so enrolment is open to children from all over the city.

Private and international schools in Chicago

Many expats send their children to private schools in Chicago which, although expensive, often offer better education than public schools. There are many private schools to choose from, and parents are not restricted to their neighbourhood when it comes to choosing a private school in Chicago.

Private schools are sometimes religiously affiliated, particularly Catholic, while others are Montessori, Waldorf or schools with a specific focus such as the arts or science, or children with special needs. Unlike public schools, which are free, private schools charge fees, which can be extremely high. Financial aid or scholarships are sometimes provided to students who can’t afford tuition, although this certainly should not be expected.

International schools are another option for expat parents in Chicago. These schools generally follow an overseas curriculum such as the British, French or German education systems. Fees at these schools can be exorbitant, but they do offer a good option for those who will be living in Chicago for the short-term and want their children to continue their home curriculum.

Some top-rated private and international schools are extremely competitive and it can be difficult to secure a spot for enrolment, so applications should be made as early as possible.

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