Students learn in a variety of ways. While some thrive in a traditional classroom setting, others do quite well pulling up a chair to their home computer and collaborating with classmates via a webcam. Virtual schools can be the answer for families who need a more flexible schedule or for children who have been bullied by other students.
Parents need to understand the benefits of virtual schools in order to determine if it’s a good fit for their child. Katie Moore, a fourth-grade teacher with virtual school South Carolina Calvert Academy, moved to the virtual school setting three years ago and loves it.
She can focus completely on teaching without being distracted by disciplining students or bullying problems, Moore said. And she’s forged strong relationships with families and students.
The benefits to a virtual education are many, Moore said, including:
Students can complete their lessons at a time that suits their schedule. Students who have extra athletic practices or students who face health challenges and have a lot of doctor’s appointments may find a virtual school a good fit. Moore said she even has a student whose family lives on a boat and travels.
2. Free tuition.
Virtual schools are public schools. People often perceive them as private schools but they are part of the public school system and students attend for free. The school provides all the curriculum and classes are taught by certified teachers. Parents only need to provide a computer with internet access and a scanner.
Students can create the environment that best fits their learning style. If they like music while they work, they are free to listen to the radio or a playlist. If they prefer quiet, that’s their choice.
4. No bullying.
It’s simply not an issue in online schools, Moore said. The students come together as a class via their webcams but they can’t tell if someone is sick or in a wheelchair.
Serving kindergarten through eighth grade, South Carolina Calvert Academy currently has more than 200 students in their program using the Calvert Education curriculum. The school has live lessons with students three or four days a week. Parents and students receive all the books and a lesson manual so they can follow along with the assignments for each day.
South Carolina Calvert Academy organizes field trips open to all students as well as monthly socials in different areas of the state so students have the chance to interact with fellow classmates.
“We have a lot of activities. We do have field trips and have a strong community network,” Moore said. “Everything a brick and mortar school does a virtual school can do.”
The biggest consideration for parents is a student’s inner drive and ability to work independently.
“You have to be motivated to be in the school because it’s so self-directed,” Moore said. “A teacher is holding you accountable, but you do have to have that drive. It’s very important that families are really on board with the school.”