Are you contemplating online school for your kids, but not sure if it’s a good decision for your family? Maybe you’ve been asking yourself, “Is online school good for my kids?”
I can’t promise to alleviate your concerns, but I can definitely help you with some general facts about online school and how it’s worked for my family the three times we’ve used them during our 15 years of homeschooling. I can also help by giving you some pros and cons, and some issues to consider when making your decision. In this post, I am going to start with some of the pros and cons of online school, then get into details about why we chose to enroll our daughter in virtual school this academic year. Next, I’ll share with you the reasons we chose online school for my middle schooler during the 2021/22 academic school year.
So, let’s begin with online school pros and cons. You can also watch the video below if you’re more a visual person like me!
Is online school good? The pros.
There are equally a good amount of pros and cons for online school, in my opinion. I think that if you really want to see certain aspects play out in your home life, you will find more benefits for virtual schooling. I also think that if you are looking for a specific type of connection with your kids, then you might find an equal amount of cons to online school. You’ll see as I begin to explain further, that online school has both benefits and drawbacks, depending on your family goals.
Independence and accountability
If you’ve been desiring for your older children to begin taking some responsibility for their school work, you may want to consider an online school for them. My daughter (now 8th grade), wakes herself up a half-hour before she knows her Zoom classes will begin, makes decisions for or against breakfast (time management), logs on to her classes and takes her lessons from teachers (other than me-mom), and determines what work she needs to complete and when.
I really love the independence she is showing in her academic life! Not only is my daughter proving to be more independent in her work, but she must show accountability by answering to her teachers. Whatever they have assigned to her is what she must complete in the formats that her teachers desire them to be submitted.
I realize even more so as my daughter is getting older how important it is to have a second set of eyes hold her accountable, and be objective in grading. Some parents may pass their kids with flying colors when they’ve made an effort to “try”, while other homeschool parents may be stricter graders.
I like the idea that there are other “qualified” teachers giving my child – as one of many students in the virtual school- a grade that she can either accept or have an opportunity to improve upon.
Maximize your time
Let’s be honest, homeschooling takes a lot of time. It takes time to gather resources, find learning materials, order supplies and curriculum, plan out our objectives and homeschooling plan for the year. For some of us, this is one of the highlights of our homeschooling: planning. And for others of us, homeschool planning is not our cup of tea. If you are a busy homeschool mompreneur or working mom, or if you have other family and life obligations that keep you from being able to plan out your homeschool effectively, an online could be truly helpful to your family for a season.
Here are a few cons of online school
No school situation is perfect, not even with homeschooling or online school. There will always be pros and cons. So, here are a few things I’ve noticed that are not so perfect about online school.
Less one-on-one time with your kids
This doesn’t mean that we don’t ever time with our daughter (since she is home with us all day, after all), but it means that you do have to think twice if you plan to have engaging lessons with your student where you can sit down one-on-one with them and really teach according to your preferences.
My daughter is in middle school, and if I understand correctly younger students have more personal time with you, the parent (or “learning coach”), but as students get older -in high school and middle school- online school becomes more of an independent learning space. This means your student will be less likely to share every aspect of their learning with you (especially if you have quiet kids who value independence- like my kid), so you will have to make a true effort to create one-on-one learning experiences with your student.
The way we do that in our family is to spend time with our daughter outside of “school” time. We use our time together to teach about our faith and other subjects that are important to us such as our family history and heritage studies. We also try to connect with our daughter by doing things she enjoys, like watching some of her favorite shows together. There are definitely ways to spend more one-on-one time with your kids outside of school time. This is important to keep in mind when asking yourself “Is online school good?”
Not as creative
If you are a parent who likes to get in the trenches with your kids and do fun and creative projects together, online school might not be the right choice for you. The classes your child will be taking are already chosen and, of course, so is the curriculum. Creativity is not a hallmark of online school, whereas having a streamlined schooling system for your kid is. If you want to add flavor and fun to your child’s online school, then you really will need to go above and beyond to make it happen, being sure to check in on your child’s upcoming assignments and see how you can insert your spin on their lesson plans.
It can oftentimes feel with online school as though you are barely keeping up in some cases. This is because online schools are on a time schedule that may very well be different from the pace you and your student may need to work at. It can sometimes feel that you are doing all you can just to keep up.
Our second experience with online school was back when my first daughter attended Connections Academy for 9th grade in 2015. She liked the school initially but by the end of the semester felt that she was drowning in her assignments. Part of this was due to her own personality, mental processing, and learning style (she needed more time to think and explore her thoughts as she was learning). Online learning was not the best mode of education for her, so we needed to pull her out and let her breathe a bit so that she didn’t ultimately ended up “hating” school.
However, my younger daughter has been enrolled in Connections Academy since 2021 and has had a completely different experience. Because of her unique personality and learning style, she enjoys the flexibility that online school gives her. She feels more in charge of her education and tends to stay on top of her assignments.
So much of what your child experiences as a student depends on their personality, but for students who just need that extra time, it can certainly feel as though “keeping up” isn’t always going so well.
As a teacher-parent (or learning coach) you will be ultimately expected to keep up with a few small administrative tasks. One of those is checking attendance daily for your student. Another is making sure your student is keeping in contact with his/her teachers on a regular basis. However, you won’t be expected to grade anything, so that could feel like a relief to you.
If you’re interested in hearing some reasons we choose online school for our daughter this year, take a look at the video below:
Reasons we chose online school for our daughter this year:
- Opportunities for advancement
In summary, when asking the question, “Is online school good?” just consider the tips above that I’ve given you. Look at the pros and cons, and think about what your preferences are and decide from there. I hope I’ve been able to help you make a decision about online school this year!