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Virtual Education and it's Potential for Your Children

Updated on April 5, 2011

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.


Ice Skating Class
Ice Skating Class

 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
  • 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.


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    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      Interesting option. Although I am a firm believer in doing what is right for your children/family, I would be concerned about what your child may be missing from other students. I understand socially that there are many opportunities for those who choose to homeschool their child or use an option such as this. However there is a lot to be said about the variety of perspectives that other children bring to the classroom. Children learn from each other and without that group interaction your child may be missing out on rich, substantive conversations with her peers. Good luck with your schooling choices. I'm sure that your girls will be very successful.

    • Joy M profile image

      Joy M 6 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      Thank you for your comment, Cardelean. I too thought a lot about varying perspectives and social opportunities. In the end, I decided that in actuality the group work in classrooms is limited otherwise students are expected to sit quietly so that all the students can hear and learn. So outside activities often provide much more social opportunities.

      However, the differing perspectives was still a concern. This potential problem actually turned out to be a big plus for the virtual academy because they provide you with the names of other virtual learners in your area so that you might take turns teaching each others children and thereby provide that alternate voice and group interaction in a classroom enviornment.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      I'm glad that it works for you. I really don't know anything about virtual classrooms since your hub was the first that I had heard of it. I know that all teachers are not the same but my students have a lot of voice in my classroom and through a lot of work in the beginning, they challenge and question each other (respectfully) and share their thinking often. We work in groups for most of the day with small groups led by me part of them time while they work together and lead each other at other times. Thanks for your response back.

    • Joy M profile image

      Joy M 6 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      You sound like a great teacher. If I could guarantee my girls had a teacher like you I wouldn't worry about sending them off to school.

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