Wondering if a virtual education for homeschooling is right for you and your family? Educate yourself on what virtual schooling means and how it would shape the future of your family.
If you are still thinking about homeschooling or have just started, you have likely come across the concept of virtual education. Because virtual schooling is a relatively new choice for educating your child, there is a debate about whether or not a virtual school is actually considered homeschooling.
And, does it matter? Not surprisingly, like most things “homeschooling,” there is no perfect answer.
Virtual Education Homeschooling
You’ve got questions and we’ve got a few answers that may make all of this just a bit less confusing.
What is a virtual school?
The virtual school generally* means a publicly funded school offered at no charge* to the family. All curriculum, teachers, grading, record keeping, and support are provided to you. (For the sake of this article, the virtual school will refer to public virtual schools.)(**”At no charge” here means you do not pay out-of-pocket for your child to attend virtual school. You do pay though through your taxes.)
Whether you opt to enroll your child for one class or for a full scope of classes, by law, your child is considered to be part of the public school system.
How is the virtual education systems different than homeschooling?
The biggest difference between virtual school at home and homeschooling is freedom. One of the biggest draws of homeschooling is the freedom you have to choose the right resources for your child. And the freedom you have to incorporate (or not) your religion into your child’s education.
And, even, the freedom to simply decide it’s too nice outside to “do” school that morning.
In an online virtual school, you are tied to the class schedule. For many classes, your child has to be at the computer for live demonstrations or lectures at any given time so many times per week. You give up the flexibility to skip busy work if your child gets a concept quickly.
Why would I choose a virtual academy?
While virtual school is not for everyone, for many families it can be a perfect fit.
- If you are nervous about homeschooling and choosing the right curriculum, starting off with a semester or a year of virtual school might be just what you need to build up your confidence.
- If you have an older child who is resistant to your suggestions or teaching style, the virtual school takes you out of the position of teacher. Giving up some freedoms is sometimes worth finding peace in your house.
- If your child is far outpacing you in a one or two subjects, a virtual school that allows you to enroll your child in one or two classes is a way for your child to advance at no cost to you.
What should I consider before signing up for virtual school?
There are negatives to a virtual atmosphere that you should consider before signing on the dotted line.
- For homeschooling in general, the virtual option presents a danger in that it blurs the line between public school at home and actual homeschooling. If people come to think of homeschooling as a public school at home, the freedom to homeschool your children in the way you see fit is in jeopardy.
- Virtual online schools can be incredibly aggressive when courting homeschoolers. And why not, for every homeschooled child they enroll, thousands and thousands of tax dollars are brought into the school system. Your homeschooled child is a potential source of revenue.
In the end, it’s your decision whether the positives outweigh the negatives given your particular situation. The most important thing to take away from this is that there are so many ways to provide your child with a meaningful education – never say never.
Circumstances change without warning. Over the course of your child’s school years you may find yourself homeschooling, sending him to public school, dual enrolling your child and taking advantage of the virtual school’s services.