Is an Online School the Right Choice for Your Child?
About four years ago, I made a decision that changed my son's outlook on school, and one I am certain will make a difference in how successful he is in life. I enrolled him in a virtual high school. It was not a hasty decision. There was a lot of research done before making the change.
If you are considering this type of education for your kids, let me offer you some advice on how to determine whether virtual school is right for your child.
My son attends a K-12 program through Nevada Virtual Academy. Most states have virtual schools available through the public school system. Check the website www.k12.com to see if your state offers the K-12 online program.
Is the K-12 program accredited?
Yes. K-12 is accredited by AdvancED, the world's largest education community, including 27,000 schools and 15 million students throughout the United States and in 65 countries throughout the world.
Which grades are offered?
The K-12 program is available to children from Kindergarten through 12th grade in most states.
The K-8 program is a mentored program, which requires a parent, or other designated adult, to act as the “class monitor” to ensure that the student is following the curriculum.
The 9-12 program allows the student to work without direct supervision.
All students interact with state-licensed teachers and communicate regularly through e-mail, telephone, and online meetings.
Which subjects are offered by K-12?
Core courses offered are Language Arts/English, Math, History, Science, Art and Music. Additional courses in the subjects of world language, health and PE, as well as AP courses, and electives, are available to high school students.
What does it cost to attend the Nevada Virtual Academy?
The K-12 program, when offered through local public school charter programs, is free. Your child receives a laptop computer and printer as a part of their instructional materials at no charge. (This equipment is on loan only, and must be returned if the child is withdrawn from the program.) The school even reimburses a portion of your internet usage.
Are textbooks and other materials supplied?
Yes. All textbooks, lab supplies and instructional materials are sent directly to the student, at no charge. (These supplies must be returned at the end of the year, and return postage is provided.)
How is attendance monitored?
Students are required to communicate with each of their teachers a minimum of one time per week to be in compliance with the school’s attendance policy.
Time spent in their online classes is tracked. If a child is having trouble with a certain subject, and the teacher sees that he isn't spending enough time in the study area for that subject, you will be notified. Parents also have access to the time reports for each of their child’s subjects, so you will know which subjects are being neglected.
What about social interaction?
The schools schedule outings, field trips, and other social events throughout the year. Outings may include trips to museums, skating rinks, zoos, dances, meet and greets, etc. There is always something going on. There are also online discussions and forums available, which are secure and strictly monitored, that allow students to interact via the internet.
How do students and parents communicate with the school?
Although there is no school building with classrooms, there is a school office where administrative personnel are available whenever needed. Most teachers work from their homes, but they also have weekly office hours. So, communication is never a problem.
However, most communication is done through a secure school email account that can only be accessed by the student, school faculty, and you. Any email sent to your child, or by your child, is automatically copied to you. You have access to all communication.
Can my child set their own schedule?
The K-8 program is more structured, with approximately 5 hours of class participation each day. The 9-12 program is much more flexible, allowing your child to set a class schedule that works for them. This is especially beneficial when working a part-time job, or when traveling.
Students are expected to devote a certain number of hours per day to their studies, and there are deadlines for assignments and tests that must be met. Keep in mind that the program must work within the parameters specified by state law, and students are expected to achieve a year's worth of academic growth by the end of the school year – just like regular school.
How much time do students spend on the computer?
Younger students only spend 20 to 30 percent of their time on the computer. Much of their work is done offline; reading, doing math problems, drawing, and doing science experiments. As the students get older, they take on more computer work. Most of the high school work is done on the computer.
If you choose to enroll your child in a virtual school, my advice would be to set up a comfortable work space for your child. Don't allow them to do their work while lying in bed or on the floor. Give them a proper desk to work on, with all of the supplies they will need to complete their tasks.
I work at home and have my own office, so I sat my son up with a desk in the same room with me. Although I am doing my own thing while he is working, my work doesn't distract him, and I am there to answer questions when he needs help.
I would also suggest that you:
· Turn the television off and eliminate anything else that might be a distraction.
· Take breaks, including a lunch period and recess time for younger students.
· Create some playtime activities that allow your kids to exercise during their breaks.
· Create a class schedule and stick to it. Kids need routine in their lives. As they get older the schedule can be more flexible, but school should start at the same time every day.
· Make sure your kids are dressed for class - no working in their pajamas.
As parents wanting to provide the best possible education for our children, we can’t all afford the tuition that private schools charge, so virtual learning is a cost-free alternative.
If you have young children, and have the time to devote to operating a home-school environment, then you may want to consider this program. If your children are older, and can work unsupervised, then this program may be a good alternative for you.
There are other virtual school programs available. K-12 is he one we chose, and we have never been disappointed. I offer this advice based on results experienced first-hand. My son's grades improved within the first few months of virtual learning. He is more engaged now than he ever was when going to a bricks and mortar school. He went from just getting by with standard courses, to excelling in Honors and AP courses. He is a member of the Debate Club and Stock Market Club and was just selected for the National Honor Society.
I am completely involved in my son's education now. I can view his grades and schedule of assignments on a daily basis. Most of his test results are immediate. Once submitted, I am able to view the graded test, and seeing which questions were answered incorrectly allows him to review the areas that need improvement.
If all of the advantages I've listed here aren't enough to encourage you to give virtual school a try, just think about the money you will save on school clothes, shoes, backpacks, lunches . . . the list goes on!
Online Education for Grades K-12
- K12 | Online Public School, Online High School, Online Private School, Homeschooling, and Online Cou
K12's curriculum is available as public, private, and home school curriculum programs, and strives to develop each child's full potential with individualized learning.