6 Steps to Choosing a K12 Online School
Children spend most of their early lives learning. In fact, most kids spend anywhere from 800 to 1,000 hours* on formal education per year! It’s no surprise that parents want their children to learn from a solid curriculum in the best possible environment.
There are many instances when the best possible option is online learning. But after a quick Google search, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with options—about 75 million options, depending on your search criteria. How can you narrow down your search to ensure you’re finding and choosing the right K–12 online school for your family?
The following steps may help:
Step 1: Understand what your child needs.
As a parent, you know what’s best for your child. This knowledge is crucial to choosing the right school online, because the final decision should align with your child’s needs. Answer these questions:
- Would your child benefit from a nationally recognized academic curriculum?
- Are you leaning more toward public or private online learning?
- Would your child benefit from a personalized learning pace that provides time to speed up for concepts that are easily understood and that permits a student to slow down for more challenging concepts?
- Would your child thrive in an environment with fewer distractions and individual attention?
- Would your child benefit from working independently and as a part of a team?
- Is your child motivated enough to chart his or her own path to the future?
If your answer is yes to the above questions, online learning may be a great fit.
Step 2: Take it a step further and decide what your family needs.
Online learning affects your child, but it also affects your entire family, especially depending on your child’s age. Parents of children who are attending school online have communicated to us the unique roles and responsibilities that have helped their children thrive, and those responsibilities may affect the entire family dynamic. When choosing a K–12 online school, think about whether you can:
- Dedicate time to keeping your child motivated throughout the day
- Provide ongoing support and encouragement
- Help monitor your child’s comprehension and progress
- Organize and structure your child’s learning day
- Maintain regular contact with your child’s teachers
- Encourage your child to get involved through field trips, clubs, and community activities.
Every family chooses to support their children’s learning a little bit differently. The activities suggested above are best practices Connections Academy has discovered from years of experience and communicating with parents.
Step 3: Gather information.
Next is collecting as much information as possible about potential K–12 online schools and documenting your notes. One helpful way to do this is to create a pros and cons list for each of the K–12 online schools on your list. Take note of the school’s:
- Success stories
- Approach to socialization and community
- Family support
- Enrollment and eligibility criteria
After compiling the above information for a select group of schools, you can begin narrowing down your options. Your notes should act as a guide in informing you which schools have what your child (and your family) would benefit from most.
Step 4: Ask other parents.
Who else understands what it’s like to choose an online school? Other parents. They are great resources for making such an important decision for your family. While you can certainly turn to people you already know, another option is to reach out to a parent with a child already attending online school. Connections Academy makes this easy.
We have a group of parent volunteers who communicate directly with those interested in learning more about online learning. Simply choose a parent to contact based on location, student age, or interest under a parent’s “Ask Me About” section. From there, click “Contact This Parent” and fill out the form. The parent will contact you within approximately one week.
Step 5: Dig deeper.
When you find yourself leaning toward a particular K–12 online school, it’s time to get your remaining questions answered. One great way to do so is to find an event, like an online or in-person information session. You may also be able to request more information so you can research the school more in depth. Lastly, you should be able to search by zip code for available options in your area so you can get to know a particular location better.
Step 6: Choose a school.
At this point, the right school for your child should be apparent. You’ve decided what your child needs, gathered information, narrowed down your options, talked to other parents, and found answers to your questions, and now it’s decision time. Congratulations, the hardest part of the process is finished. Next is determining what you need for your child to enroll. Connections Academy has a helpful enrollment checklist, eligibility requirements, and enrollment FAQs for various locations to help you with this step.
If you took the steps above and your end result is Connections Academy, you’ve made a fantastic decision. Soon you will see how rewarding virtual learning can be for your child. When you’re ready, begin the enrollment process. Enrollment for the 2016–2017 school year is open! Start now.
Did you take the steps above and enroll your child at Connections Academy in the past? We would love to hear about your decision-making process. Please share your story in the comments.
* According to centerforpubliceducation.org