What Virtual School Students Think You Should Know
According to the latest research, more than 2.7 million students across the United States are digital learners, and many K–12 students receive a full-time online education.
Students everywhere are embracing virtual school, but online education is not just a passing trend. You may be neighbors with an online learner, or perhaps you attend the same music lessons or play soccer together. You know some friends who attend online public school or perhaps an online private school, but you’re not sure what that means.
So what is virtual school all about? Read on to learn five things your online school friends want you to know.
#1. They study very hard.
While your online school friends may learn from the comfort of their own homes—occasionally while wearing pajamas—their virtual school curriculum is rigorous and challenging, and correlates to state or national standards. They complete lessons using high-quality texts, learning materials, and resources. Gifted, honors, and Advanced Placement®* courses are available for students seeking extra challenge.
Expert highly educated teachers use multimedia presentations and interactive tools to bring learning to life in the online classroom. They grade assignments and portfolios to ensure students are learning. They are also available to provide assistance as needed.
In short, virtual schools, teachers, and students take learning very seriously.
#2. They learn at the pace that works for them.
Online learners have a more flexible schedule, which means they plan their school day around their personal needs and preferences. A night owl might start school a bit later in the day, while a morning person can start early. Some kids begin with a favorite class, while others save the “best” for last. They can also advance quickly through lessons that are easily understood and take more time on subjects with a higher degree of challenge.
This flexibility also enables students to schedule learning in a way that fits their lifestyle. For example, if your friend needs to travel or has a doctor’s appointment to attend, he or she can do so. Some students are heavily involved in dance, music, or sports. Virtual school helps them create a schedule that works with their passions and talents.
With online schooling, your friends have individual learning plans that match their needs, abilities, interests, and learning styles. However, much like in a traditional classroom, your friends don’t spend their whole day “plugged in”—they learn by reading books, collaborating with classmates, working on hands-on projects, and attending field trips, too!
#3. They receive positive feedback and support.
Your online school friends are just like you—they need positive feedback and thoughtful answers to questions they might have about math, science, or writing. In fact, online school teachers are highly skilled when it comes to motivating students and providing support. They’re available for emails, calls, and online conversations. Some students even tell us they have closer relationships with their virtual school teachers than with the traditional school teachers they met in person!
What’s more, in virtual school, parents or trusted guardians have the opportunity to be Learning Coaches. While every family does it a little bit differently, many Learning Coaches choose to offer guidance and day-to-day assistance by helping keep students organized and on track. They may also check grades and communicate with teachers to customize a virtual school program that’s just right for their student.
#4. They’re involved in the community.
Your virtual school friends may be asked how they keep in touch with friends and other students outside the traditional classroom environment. Like most kids and teens, online learners text, call their friends, chat online, and meet up with peers for fun.
There are also many opportunities for socialization in virtual school! Students can meet in person through field trips, use “chat” to collaborate during classes, and find classmates who share their interests through online clubs and activities. Some online schools may offer directories or private Facebook groups to help school families connect.
Similar to traditional school learners, online school students make friends locally through sports, music, art, religious activities, and hobbies. They spend time in soup kitchens, animal shelters, and other community organizations where they have the opportunity to meet others and actively improve their neighborhoods. A customized schedule allows students and families to grow and learn together at home and in the community.
#5. They’re motivated to make a difference.
Some online learners aspire to attend college, while others dream of learning a skilled trade, entering the workforce, or joining the military. Virtual school provides a safe, secure environment for a student to work not just on studies but also on his or her personal growth, motivation, and long-term goals.
Online learners set their own pace according to their interests and abilities. They meet challenges they’ve helped set for themselves, including study skills and coursework, goal setting, and how to try new things—all important building blocks for any career path.
Each virtual learner’s experience is a little different—after all, we all learn in our own ways. With both personalization and flexibility, online school has become an attractive way for many students to learn while creating a lifestyle—and future—they love!
Do you have more questions about getting an online education? Feel free ask in the comments below!
*Advanced Placement and AP are registered trademarks of the College Board. Used with permission.