Pros and Cons of Online Schooling for Your Child
All children need an education and many states have laws requiring children to be in school until a certain age. Public school is not the only option though, there are also private school options and the homeschool option. But if these don't meet your needs, another option many people don't even know is there is online schooling. For many people this is the best of both worlds. Your child is still enrolled in the public school, but they do it at home on the internet. How can you decide if this is the right choice for you?
There are many pros to using an online school and I have seen it benefit many people. To be honest - homeschooling is expensive. Many people can't afford it, or don't want to spend the money on it when the public school system provides an education for free or almost free. With the online schools (each state should have one) your child will still be a public school student and everything you need is provided for you (aside from basic school supplies). Because the school work is done on the computer, your child will also be provided with a computer.
Aside from having all the materials paid for, if your child needs special services such as speech therapy for instance the school district is still required to provide those services. Where I live, if I homeschooled my child and was not enrolled in the public online school, the district is not required to provide the therapy he needs. If your child needs extra services like this and you want to homeschool the online school option will give you the best of both worlds.
There are some drawbacks to the online school as well. With the online school you are essentially homeschooling your child, which is not what some people want. If both parents work and the child is not old enough to stay home alone, then the online school probably won't work. There are usually teachers online to help you if you need it, but as the parent you need to make sure your child does his/her work. Children are required to put in a set amount of time each day to meet the minimum state requirements. What I have found with my kids is that they could finish the required work for the day much faster than how long the state thinks it should take. But yet they are still required to be schooling for, sometimes, several more hours. This can end up being a sticky situation.
When you use the online school for your state you do not get to choose your curriculum or course work. In fact you don't even get to pick which subjects to teach your child. You have to do exactly what the state says. For many this is fine. Some states will let you substitute curriculum if it works better for your child (a different math program for instance) but then you have to pick up the cost yourself and you have to get it approved by the teacher assigned to you.
Many times people turn to online public schools when they have a problem getting their child to attend the regular public school. This doesn't always work well. In some cases though, the online public school can be a real blessing. If your child is sick a lot and misses school frequently, they might do better being able to do school online at home. If your child has trouble in a noisy classroom with lots of other kids, the quiet of home might work well for them.
In the end, you need to decide what is right for your child. I think online public schools are a great option in many cases and have seen them work wonderfully for many families. Good luck with your decision.
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