Virtual Education and it's Potential for Your Children
Online Elementary Options
When it came time to decide my children's educational options I was faced with a dilemma. I did not want to send them to public school. While there are good teachers those few are underfunded and overwhelmed with students. Public school was too expensive to be a reasonable choice. So I thought homeschooling was my only option. It is true that I am a college graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in science, but we are taking about my children's future. What if my inexperience lead to them missing an opportunity? So when I friend told me about Washington Virtual Academy I was delighted.
Washington state now provides online public education as an alternative education option. What does this really look like? In the younger years the online school provides books and manipulatives (those same things you would see in a standard classroom). The parent is then responsible for facilitating their child's education. However, unlike in homeschooling, there is a teacher to oversee your child's progress and answer any questions you may have. Also, the virtual school provides you with standards or benchmarks that are age appropriate and broken into reasonable attainable steps. So there is no need to fear you are missing important information or worry about the best way to break down the information.
As the child progresses there will be online classroom components in which the teacher will "meet' with the class. The students get the opportunity to ask and respond to questions. And the children get to learn how to interact in a group setting - even if it is not a traditional environment.
For those of you worried about the students' social opportunities the school provides monthly field trips as well as the ability to contact other parents from your area who are enrolled in the virtual school. My girls also participate in ice skating and gymnastics as well as a variety of church activities.
Virtual schools will allow our children to work at their own pace. They will be able to move quickly through those subjects they excel at, while taking the extra time they need one those subjects they struggle with. Additionally, the virtual school has more subject options than are available at traditional schools.
As people become more aware of virtual options for their grade school children I believe we will see the number of children enrolled in these school dramatically increase.
A Few Statistics to Ponder
- Full-enrollment in Wisconsin virutal schools increased from 265 pupils in the 2002-03 school year to 2,951 pupils in the 2007-08 school year according to the state auditor
- The Lawrence Virtual School of Kansas enrollment increased from 800 pupils in the 2008-09 school year to 1,125 in the 2009-10 school year according to LJWorld.com.
- For the first year Oklahoma tracked the number of pupils enrolled in virtual school reporting 2,593 pupils in the 2010-11 school year according to Education Station.
- Greenfield opened Massachusetts' first virtual school in August enrolling 285 pupils according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.