Education today can be effective through several different methods, some of which are completely outside of the box from the once traditional norm of simply attending your town’s public “brick-and-mortar” school. While the concept of homeschooling students has been around for centuries, advanced technology and cutting edge connectivity have created many new learning opportunities for families looking to educate their children at home. It’s important to note, however, that not all education is equal.
The recent rise in online public schools have attempted to blend the best of both worlds - a strong curriculum taught by teachers from a traditional brick-and-mortar background along with the flexibility and security of homeschooling. Families now have a choice when opting out of in-person education between basic homeschooling methods where the responsibility lies with the parent, and a more structured online school where certified teachers still lead the teaching. So, which method is best for your family? Here’s an inside look at the major education and social differences between homeschooling through a parent and enrolling in a cyber public school program led by teachers:
Education and Teaching Resources: Children that are traditionally homeschooled are, for the most part, solely in the hands of their parents or guardians. This means that parents themselves are responsible for researching typical curriculums that meet their children’s age requirements and mapping out their own plan of attack as to how to actually apply those lessons. Furthermore, parents have to also hold themselves accountable for ensuring that they are meeting both state and nationwide standards when it comes to how and what they are teaching, especially because they still have to comply with state testing!
An online public school like Agora Cyber Charter School, on the other hand, is the complete opposite and most like brick-and-mortar schools. While these students are learning at home, they might as well be in a building as they have access to state-certified general education instructors, certified special education teachers, subject matter experts, school counselors/advisors, and paraprofessionals. Parents and students can also take advantage of on-on-one web-based tutoring, virtual classrooms, guidance and several other resources that can ensure they remain “on track.”
While traditional homeschool parents take on the full responsibility of every aspect of their child’s education, students of online public schools basically use their parents as educational learning coaches whom that have extra help along the way. Furthermore, online public schools offer a complete Kindergarten through 12th grade program that features a full array of courses including foreign language, high school electives, and even AP courses, all of which meet or exceed national and state standards.
Socialization: Typically speaking, parents who opt for educating their student at home are going to forfeit some of the “normal” interaction that their child would experience at a standard in-person school system. And, it is once again on the shoulders of parents to fill those societal gaps in their child’s development. Since online public schools incorporate virtual classroom software, it is much easier for those students to identify and communicate with their peers. Let’s face it, the majority of communication these days is done through text, email, or social media anyways (especially with the younger generation), so students of an online public school are much more comfortable creating their own socialization activities.
Online public schools work diligently to help parents and students connect with their peers outside of the virtual environment by hosting community based and regional events. For example, at Agora, we hold monthly regional Focus Fridays that combine learning with physical activity, a statewide celebration of winter and regional proms for high school seniors. This is not to say that parents who choose the more traditional form of homeschooling will be doing their child a social disservice, they just may have to work a little harder in ensuring that their son or daughter has the opportunities they need to grow as a person.
A decision regarding the education of your child is never an easy one to make, but as you can see both traditional homeschooling and online public schools each offer their own unique benefits. Now you have the information you need to decide which method is best for your student’s situation and educational needs.