Virtual vs Traditional Homeschooling
Initially, homeschooling was defined as children who were taught full-time by their parents at home with a custom-made curriculum that was pulled together from different publishers. State regulations were very strict with some states not accepting this method as a legal or recognized form of education. Today, the guidelines have loosened up as more and more families engage in this and the definition has broadened with the engagement of technology, online programs, and co-ops where parents get together and take on various teaching roles. When first deciding on whether to homeschool your child or not, it is important to consider the nuances and benefits of the different methods so you can choose the path that best works for your student. There are similarities across the options and ways to engage that provide flexibility for parents and children in the process.
Control Over Your Child’s Education
If your goal is to have full control over your child’s education and be the full-time instructor then you are going to follow the traditional homeschool path. This involves taking the time to review the curriculum from a variety of publishers, putting together a daily schedule that encompasses all core subjects, and following county guidelines for documentation and testing when applicable. Parents are fully responsible for maintaining records about their student’s progress, teaching all concepts, and getting them ready for graduation and into college. Benefits include rich communication and family interaction, teaching faith-based views and family beliefs, and having the one-on-one instruction that some children require to be successful in education. Online resources can help with tutoring and additional practice of concepts which can help students see information from a different point of view. The potential risks include higher costs depending on the curriculum expenses, more to keep up with between teaching and records, and students may still have to get their GED instead of a high school diploma.
On the other side, virtual or online education has attempted to bring the best of homeschooling and standard education together for the benefit of all students. When you join a Christian online school, parents can choose to be part-time teachers or have the program’s certified instructors take on that responsibility full-time. Parents are then able to act as support and encouragement for their students while maintaining a close relationship with their education because they can monitor and see what is going on every day.
One of the biggest benefits of choosing this option is that the curriculum is already set by the school so parents can review it and ask questions, but they don’t have the task of trying to put this together for each grade and student. The online school has already vetted to find the best combination of textbooks and e-texts for each subject and grade to ensure that students can complete their assignments and move into the next year with confidence and understanding. One of the differences with this approach from the traditional homeschool is that professional teachers handle the majority of instruction and require students to adhere to a mainly traditional school year timeframe. The similarity between approaches is that there is still flexibility for students to move through lessons as they are comfortable and learn at their own pace. This is where students have the biggest advantage over being in a public-school environment because they don’t have to keep up with a large group but can determine their own learning style and be successful.
Another similarity that both methods have is that parents can supplement formal education classes with additional activities. This is an important aspect as kids need to be able to socialize to develop certain skills and it allows them to find where their interests lie whether in music, sports, drama, art, etc. These are typically utilized within the community and should be incorporated with the school schedule regardless of whether it’s the traditional homeschool or online option. When you join a Christian online school program there may also be opportunities to engage in online clubs and activities with other homeschool students. This is a great way to network and make friends all over the country, exchange thoughts and ideas about various subject matters and use it as a support and encouragement system.
The Hybrid Option
Another option that parents can consider is a hybrid where students take some classes online and attend school for the rest of the necessary courses. There are some situations where this may be beneficial but it’s important to ensure that online classes are accepted by the school of record which requires coordination between administrations. No matter which option you choose, take time to discuss with the kids and ask lots of questions so you can make an informed decision. Online homeschools have many benefits and allow greater flexibility for families while still allowing parents to be directly involved in their child’s education. Make sure the online school is accredited, has a full range of courses and electives, supports print and online options, and can take the student from K-12th grade with a solid platform to enter the workforce or the college of their choice.