By S.E. Slack
Unhappy with the education your child is receiving at the neighborhood school? Maybe it’s time to give an online school a try. While some call it homeschooling because the child attends school from home, online schooling differs in several key ways. And it could be just what your child needs.
Online public schools blend traditional classes with flexible, online learning. There is no tuition fee for most online schools. Thirty one states were offering multi-district, full-time online schools at the end of 2012. Some online schools are part of a small local school district, such as Appleton School District in northern Wisconsin. But a student further south in Mil-town, for instance, can attend even though they are more than 100 miles away from that district.
The Ohio Connections Academy is authorized by the Ohio Council of Community Schools and its high school graduates receive a diploma just like their more traditional counterparts.
Teachers and online tutors are available for support, and parents act as “learning coaches” at home to help the child when needed. One such school, Nexus Academy, uses two to three traditional online daily lectures and then students are expected to finish work independently. Others, such as Ohio Connections Academy, monitor activity and meet regularly with students, typically through virtual live lessons that allow the student to interact face-to-face with the teacher.
The method works particularly well for students who are self-motivated, such as Samuel Butcher of Dublin. As a fifth grader, Butcher was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. By the time he got to high school, traditional, brief classes were frustrating him. He switched to Ohio Connections Academy and recently scored a perfect 36 on the ACT college readiness assessment.
His mother, Jennifer, said that if he wants to do a week’s worth of physics in a single day, the school supports it. He manages himself, which means she doesn’t have to oversee his activities.
It’s a great way to give kids the flexibility they need to succeed, according to other parents. And with nearly 300,000 kids currently enrolled in an online school, it’s starting to look like more than a fad.