5 Reasons Why Homeschool Families Switch to Online School
Parents decide to educate their children at home for many reasons, but now more homeschool families than ever before have discovered that switching to virtual school yields significant benefits for children and parents alike. Here are some of the top reasons why former homeschoolers have made the easy transition to online school.
1. Proven Academics
Former homeschool families tell us it can be time-consuming—and expensive—to design or locate a program of study that provides a complete, high-quality education. With a public online school, the curriculum must meet state standards—and it is free. Many parents who have switched to virtual school say the strong curriculum was a major deciding factor.
Naomi Moore had been homeschooling since 1995 when she enrolled her daughter in Texas Connections Academy @ Houston (TCAH). “Previously, I used various curricula and always wondered if my children were getting the right thing at the right time,” she explained. “Now, since enrolling my daughter in TCAH, I feel as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I am confident that she is getting a thorough public school curriculum, and yet it is customized to meet her strengths and work on her weaknesses.”
As a longtime military family, Layne and Ilsa Araki chose to homeschool their children to minimize the disruptions that come with moving and changing schools frequently. When they landed in Louisiana, they learned about Louisiana Connections Academy. Ilsa says the outstanding curriculum helped them make the decision to switch. “We appreciated the strong curriculum and the structure that is built into it. Our children are being challenged and are achieving all the required learning objectives each and every week. In addition to textbooks, they can learn from online tools, animated tutorials, hands-on activities, and teacher interaction during LiveLesson® sessions.”
2. Planning for the Future
A family’s decision to switch to online learning can also be because the parents want to be sure that their students who are starting middle school or high school—are prepared for college or a career. In addition to offering a wide variety of core courses, many online schools also offer college preparatory options such as gifted and talented, Honors, and Advanced Placement courses. Some offer Career Technical Education courses, which give students the opportunity to explore career choices while gaining valuable workforce skills. A transcript that includes challenging coursework from an accredited online school can enhance a student’s chances of being accepted to college. Here’s what some of our forward-thinking families had to say about planning for their students’ futures:
Doug and Lynn MacDonald homeschooled their son Brad successfully through seventh grade, but when it was time to start preparing him for college, they turned to Arizona Connections Academy (ACA). “When we began thinking about a high school, we knew we wanted Brad to experience the challenges of different teaching styles and expectations to prepare him for college. As an ACA student, Brad has shown us that he’s a self-starter. He manages his own schedule, holds himself accountable, and really strives to be an ‘A’ student,” Lynn said.
Jane Kummer-Meyer, a Learning Coach for three sons at Wisconsin Connections Academy, also feels certain that her children are preparing for success. “With this program we can be confident that our children are receiving a high-quality education. My sons are gaining the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in the future as they enjoy the ability to work at their own pace,” she said.
3. Dedicated Educators
While many families excel at educating their children at home, some parents question their own teaching abilities—or wish they had a safety net! With a high-quality virtual school, certified teachers instruct and evaluate students and are available to answer questions and provide support to both parents and students. Families tell us that teachers transform the learning experience and play a critical role in the successful transition to online school.
The Dieneman family homeschooled daughter Emily for two years before enrolling her at Nevada Connections Academy. They felt she would benefit from regular student–teacher interactions now that she’s in middle school. Her mother explains, “The older Emily gets, the harder it is to explain things to her! Having access to teachers is a total plus for this family! LiveLesson® sessions are her favorite part of the school week.”
Jane Kummer-Meyer agrees that her sons’ qualified, licensed teachers are a key benefit. “The high level of communication between our children and their teachers is the very element that allows them to receive the individualized education they need to achieve success in school,” she said. “Our boys receive the additional help they need in areas where they experience difficulties, and they are able to move ahead where they excel. We have been with this program for the past five years, and during that time, we have watched our children thrive and excel academically. I cannot imagine schooling my children any other way.”
4. Reduced Stress
The responsibilities of a homeschooling parent can be demanding. When combined with an active lifestyle, the requirements can overwhelm some families. Online school frees parents from many of the time-consuming “administrative” details of homeschooling, while still enabling them to be involved in their children’s education on a daily basis.
Homeschooler Cherie Rudesill found that virtual school provided the relief she was seeking. “With five children, the amount of time and energy I needed to keep records, plan, and teach grew with each passing year. Since enrolling in Connections Academy, I feel as though a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. All of the planning is done for me. The curriculum is well written and engaging,” she reports.
The family’s students are also happy with the change. “My youngest daughter is thrilled when her papers are returned and covered with colorful stickers and positive, helpful comments. The children are very motivated to do well, and they love the encouraging feedback. Teachers are literally just a phone call away and are very happy to help whenever needed.”
For Michele Omvig, transitioning her two teenage sons from homeschool to Iowa Connections Academy gave her the time she needed for a new job. “When our financial situation changed and I returned to working part-time, I quickly realized I could not be in two places at once. Now, even if I have to be at work, I can log on and see what assignments the boys have. At a glance, we can look at their schoolwork for the week and decide which assignments they will need my help with, and which they can complete on their own,” she stated.
The Omvig family also appreciates that they aren’t limited to normal bricks-and-mortar school hours. “We can work on school on a weekend or an evening, whenever we have time. I also love that grades are updated nightly so I can track how my children are doing.”
5. Continued Flexibility
While gaining all of the benefits described here, former homeschool families that switch to virtual school can also continue enjoying all of the rewards of having a more flexible schedule.
For Cindy Harmon-Jones, flexibility means having the ability to “fit school around our lives, instead of the other way around.” She chose to homeschool her daughter Sylvia because she has type 1 diabetes, which can be very difficult for children to manage while attending a brick-and-mortar school. When Sylvia reached middle school, the Jones family wanted more structure and better documentation for her schooling, but they didn’t want to sacrifice their daughter’s health. Connections Academy was a natural fit.
“Being at home has helped Sylvia keep her condition under much better control than most kids who have type 1 diabetes can. Her endocrinologist is extremely impressed by Sylvia’s maturity and seriousness with regard to managing her condition. I strongly believe that schooling through Connections Academy has helped her to develop this sense of responsibility and independence that will benefit her health over the long term,” Cindy explains.
In addition to having the freedom to schedule doctor’s appointments and tend to health needs, Sylvia has the flexibility to do the things she loves. “Sylvia is busy participating in a children’s theater group, as well as voice, ballet, and piano lessons. We have time to do these activities without feeling that we’re rushing from one place to another all day. Perhaps even more important, schooling through Connections Academy allows us time to spend together as a family.”
Iowa Connections Academy high school student Grace Westercamp makes the most of her flexible schedule to participate in 4-H and rabbit breeding. “I currently serve as president of the Jolly Trio 4-H Club. I show hogs, and I was named the 2012 Van Buren County Fair Junior Miss. One of my other interests is raising rabbits, and I was able to attend the National American Rabbit Breeders Convention in 2010, 2011, and 2012. I love that I can work ahead on my assignments if I know I will be traveling for a rabbit show, 4-H workshop, or doctor’s appointment. I can also take extra time if I need to spend more time learning a concept,” Grace said.
With so many powerful perks and the ability to continue receiving the many lifestyle benefits of educating their children at home, it’s not surprising that homeschool families are embracing virtual schooling. And fortunately, if you’re making the switch, you’ll find that your previous involvement in your children’s education will help make the transition from homeschool to online school a smooth one.
What questions do you have about the differences between homeschooling and virtual school? Post your questions in the comments and we’ll answer them as quickly as possible!