Virtual School Students: Where Were They Before?
If you are considering making the switch to online school, you may wonder about your child’s future classmates. How did they become online school students? Have they been homeschooled all their lives? Have they ever attended bricks-and-mortar schools? How were they educated before virtual school? Just as there are many reasons for choosing online education, recent data reveals that virtual school students come from many different backgrounds.
Bricks and Mortar
Many virtual school students—57 percent—previously attended a traditional school. With increasing national news coverage of topics such as school safety, bullying, poor performance, and aging school infrastructure, some parents who are dissatisfied with their local school might seek an alternative.
Of course, most parents also express a desire to help their children succeed academically. Often, virtual schools can deliver a higher level of one-on-one attention than some traditional schools can provide.
Additionally, with the squeeze of economic pressures, many traditional schools are being forced to cut programs such as music or art, or they offer a smaller selection of courses. With online education, students can typically enroll in a growing variety of courses, which could include electives, Honors, Advanced Placement, or Career Technical Education courses.
The Comfort of Home
A significant amount of virtual school students were formerly homeschooled. While homeschool families value direct involvement in their children’s education, for some parents the time-consuming task of finding curriculum materials and preparing lesson plans becomes too much. Virtual school enables these families to enjoy the rewards of daily involvement in their children’s learning, while freeing them from the planning, teaching, and grading.
It’s also fairly common for homeschool families to turn to online education for a student’s high school years, when the course work becomes more rigorous. Some homeschool parents find it reassuring to have certified teachers working with their teens—particularly in subjects such as algebra and foreign language. Others seek a proven, challenging curriculum to enhance their college applications. In addition to hosting live graduation ceremonies and granting diplomas, some virtual schools also provide guidance counselors to assist students with college and career planning.
Other School Choices
When parents feel that their local school does not meet their children’s needs, it’s not unusual for them to turn to other bricks-and-mortar options. After all, many people are unfamiliar with online learning as an education method for kids in grades K–12. Among online school students, 7 percent previously attended private schools, and another 5 percent attended charter schools.
There are also students now who transfer from one online school to another. For some families, this is because of a household move. In other situations, it may indicate that the previous school wasn’t a good fit for the student’s needs.
When selecting an education option, it’s important to do your research in order to select a high-quality virtual school. Look for accreditation by a national or regional educational organization, as well as awards or other recognition for excellence. Another good way to learn about a school is to attend in-person events and talk to other parents. You’ll know that your time has been well spent when you find a virtual school that’s a good fit and you begin to enjoy the many benefits of educating your child at home!
If you are considering making the switch to virtual school and have questions, post them in the comments!