What parents should know before considering online homeschools.
Advantages, what to look for, what age, pitfalls, plus other great information.
Some key advantages of online homeschools:
- School work can be done from anywhere there is a computer with internet access.
- Much of the student’s work is automatically corrected and scored by the system. This gives immediate answer re-enforcement that is rarely offered in traditional education methods. The structure prevents the student learning wrong answers due to improper scoring or missed corrections. This also saves the parent or student an enormous amount of time. Some work, especially in Language courses, must still be subjectively scored by a parent or teacher. Both the online homeschools
Southeast Academy and Western Christian Academy provide subjective scoring by a teacher when using their Teacher On Call program.
- Online homeschools often provide automatic grading, record keeping, and lesson planning with the click of a mouse, freeing parents more. The automatic scoring allows for easy record keeping in online grades. Grades programs that can be viewed online that show parents and students the immediate grade point average in each subject has been proven to increase student performance by up to 8%.
- 3-D animation, video clips, and other fascinating multimedia are used in many online homeschool programs. Multimedia content offers engaging and educational advantages that traditional methods cannot provide.
- Online curriculum systems also allow for teachers to help at a distance. Teachers are able to see exactly what the student sees, while using a chat feature or telephone to communicate with the student.
Even though there is a tuition cost for most online homeschools, families enjoy several benefits in addition to included curriculum. Accreditation, record keeping, course counseling, teacher or tutoring options, access to achievement testing, academic diagnostic tools, ensure national academic standards are included in curriculum, umbrella strength, and other benefits are normally included. Homeschooling itself also offsets costs by saving transportation costs to and from a campus-based school. Money is saved from more expensive and sometimes not as healthy school lunches. Most families save substantially on clothing costs. Beside other financial savings, Mom or Dad save a lot of time due to transportation. If that saved time is applied to supervising the student’s work, very little additional time is needed for the parent to homeschool.
An online homeschool program also provides extra strength for student accountability. Someone besides Mom or Dad expects quality work to be done on time. Homeschooling has received a bad reputation from time to time, mainly because the student does not complete enough quality work. An online homeschool or school can greatly help with student motivation.
An online homeschool program can offer ongoing teacher support. Some parents may need this because of academics. Some may need this because the parent has difficulty assisting the student due to personalities or other reasons.
Wait until 3rd grade to use computer-based or online curriculum.
Children’s hands are normally not developed enough to learn proper keyboarding until 3rd grade. Computer usage when too young will create bad habits that will be hard to break later. Younger grade level students should focus on paper-based work, so they can develop penmanship. Computer usage alone can also distract younger students from their studies. It is also more difficult to have the student working ergonomically when smaller. Some parents will wait until middle school before considering online homeschools.
Keyboard training: A good rule of thumb is waiting until your child can successfully use a keyboard training program a minimum of three times per week for a couple months. If the student can type without hunting and pecking (looking at the keyboard) for full alphabet drills, the student will not be distracted with typing challenges to learn from the curriculum. The keyboard training will also develop experience with the mouse. Many good keyboarding programs cost less than $20.
Another reason we mentioned Southeast Academy and Western Christian Academy above is they offer an online program for 3rd grade and above, but also have a paper-based booklet program or a combination online and booklet program. Students can start out with paper-based, then transition to a completely online program when they are ready without having to transfer to a different school or program.
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