Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: How is virtual school going?

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

How is virtual school going?

 Hey there! I see you, parents of newly virtual schooling kids. I know a whole lot of you, maybe most of you, would have never chosen this option for your children's education if not for the pandemic. Maybe you are doing virtual school because that is all that is offered right now in your district, or maybe because your family has one or more high risk members you want to protect. Perhaps you are out of work, or working from home, and you just wanted to give this whole school-at-home thing a try. Or maybe you've been toying with the idea of homeschooling for a while, and this seemed like a good way to see if it might be a fit for you and your kids without committing to doing everything on your own.

Whatever the reason you've chosen virtual school, I hope you and your kids have a fantastic school year!




Our family has never done virtual school, although believe me, I was tempted by the idea of it when we first decided to homeschool. One of the main reasons I decided to do traditional homeschooling instead of virtual public school was that my older two kids were still quite young. I didn't think teaching first grade to my twins would be so tough, and at that time I really only expected to homeschool for a couple of years, until my youngest could start pre-K. 

Another factor was our slow and unreliable internet at that time. Rural areas and small towns really are so far behind when it comes to internet service, and that is a huge hurdle, I think, to providing a quality virtual school experience to students across the board. 

Anyway, we made the decision to homeschool instead, so I have never actually had the experience of virtual school. I have a good friend who is an experienced virtual school teacher, and know many families who have been happily virtual schooling for years, so I know it can work well. I've also known families who had poor experiences with different virtual school platforms, so I realize it doesn't always work well for every student.

If you have chosen virtual school for your kids, I really do hope that you have a great experience. If it is not what you had hoped, I do have a couple of suggestions, having worked with hundreds of homeschooling and virtual schooling families over the years. 

Communicate

It is extremely important that you communicate regularly with your virtual instructors, and that you communicate well. Be specific about issues you are having, and don't wait until the last minte to reach out. If you are not able to form a cooperative relationship with your child's instructor, and you feel that your child's education is at risk, please reach out to someone higher up the chain. You may be able to switch instructors, or even enroll in a different virtual school or switch to homeschooling if problems cannot be resolved.

Define your goals

It is important, when deciding which path to take, that you carefully define your goals. I am, obviously, very much in favor of homeschooling. But it is not the right path for every family. If your goal is to get back into the neighborhood school classroom as soon as possible, particularly if your child will be in high school in the coming year, homeschooling may actually throw them behind, because many high schools refuse to accept homeschool credits from students who are transferring.

If your goal is to preserve your child's eligibility to participate in their local school's extracurricular activities, you may want to carefully look at whether switching to a different virtual school would take away those opportunities. Be aware, though, that there are often homeschool sports, music and other extracurricular options available if you should decide to leave the virtual school, and in some states, homeschooled kids must still be allowed to participate in extracurriculars at their local public school. 

Your goal may be to simply provide the best education possible for your child, regardless of the format. In this case, homeschooling may be an awesome option for your family if you find that virtual school is too limited or too demanding of screen time, or just isn't a good fit for whatever reason.

Virtual school isn't homeschool

Be aware that in most cases, virtual public school is not considered homeschool, even though it is done in the same place and may use many of the same resources. This is true regardless of whether you are doing virtual school through your local school district or through an online public charter school. Both virtual public school and homeschool are valid educational alternatives, but families have very different rights and responsibilities depending on which they choose.

For those who are embarking on your first semester of virtual school, I wish you the best. I hope your children have skilled teachers who are able to adapt to the format easily, and that they are able to enjoy each and every one of their classes. 

If that is not the case, and you do find yourself considering homeschooling, either for the year or forever, please reach out to experienced homeschoolers online or in your community for support. And check out my book, The Unplanned Homeschooler: My Disorganized Path to Homeschooling Success, available free for a limited time on Amazon. You do not have to take on this venture alone.   

No comments:

Post a Comment