When my family came to Idaho 15 years ago, we had three little kids. We moved to a lovely rural town with a small public school. Each grade had only one class, with an average size of 22 students. Six of my seven children were able to start their education in that small school. I felt like it was good fit for my family because my kids were getting a good education and they enjoyed their teachers.
As my family grew and my kids advanced to middle school, I began to wonder if the small public school was still the right decision for my family. I loved the elementary school and it’s teachers, but the middle school and high school did not provide the kind of education I wanted for my older children. We debated moving, but instead decided to enroll our three oldest children in a rigorous online middle school and high school program. Our four youngest continued going to the public school.
Idaho does not regulate homeschool education, so I was able to choose the program and classes that I wanted. Online school seemed like a great solution for our family. We set our own daily schedule and I regularly monitored my children’s grades and progress. I was very involved and constantly helped them understand their assignments and work on projects. It was demanding and exhausting, but I felt like I was giving my kids the kind of education they needed.
The first year of online school was more challenging then we were expecting. The second year we made several adjustments. But by the third year, we decided that online school was not what we wanted either. It didn’t work for us. We moved our family and my kids were able to transfer to a different public school to continue their education.
When I read the article about Idaho’s virtual schools failing, I was not surprised. From my experience, it takes a unique student and a lot of support, for a student to be successful in online, or virtual school.
Online school can be difficult for many reasons:
- The students do not get to know or personally interact with their teachers (and vice versa).
- They do not have opportunities to learn in group settings with other students.
- Subjects like math and science are more difficult to understand in a virtual classroom.
- Students have to spend the majority of their school day in front of a computer.
- Hands-on elective courses are not available online.
- They do not get to interact with other students in social settings.
- Unless the student is extremely motivated and organized, they may fall behind.
- Online learning can make a student feel isolated and depressed.
What do you think about virtual schools and online schools? Can a student get a good education at a virtual school?