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VLN Partners Answers: Is Cyber School Right for My Child?

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Many parents are choosing to enroll their children in cyber schools, but VLN Partners suggests that others are hesitant because they are not sure what they should expect. While the concept of online education is growing in popularity, it is still unfamiliar to many. There are suggestions that cyber schooling involves little social interaction, is too focused on technology, and there is little opportunity for students to receive the help they need. In truth, a reputable cyber school will address these concerns—and much more.

While online education differs from state to state, and from provider to provider, there are a few commonalities that trustworthy systems share. VLN Partners provides insight on some of the most frequently asked questions that parents have, and strives to answer their most common concerns.

How do children learn online?

A reputable cyber school offers many different ways for students to participate in classroom discussions, projects, and other key areas of education. Many programs allow children and teachers to communicate through video conferencing and messaging, to ensure that students get the help they need to progress.

During their studying, students are often required to turn in homework, complete presentations, write papers, and take tests, just as if they were in a "regular" school. The only difference is that students can work at a pace that suits their individual needs.

What is the cost involved for parents?

In many cases, parents can choose to enroll children in cyber schools at no extra cost. In addition, some programs provide students with the devices they need to maximize their education at home. For example, VLN Partners offers its complimentary Cyber School in a Box to participating students, which includes a laptop, a modem, necessary software, and a webcam.

Will cyber students lose credits?

Each district and each cyber school varies greatly. Before enrolling a child, find out if the online school's classes will prevent students from getting the credits they need. VLN Partners, for example, tackles this issue head-on. It works hand-in-hand with districts to create lessons that mirror a school's curriculum, including its scope and speed of progression.

VLN Partners explains that children not only learn the same material, but they study it at the same time as their peers. This helps to ensure that students do not lose credits. It also helps make transitioning between brick-and-mortar and cyber schools much easier.

When do students study and take classes?

Many parents find the answer to this question too good to be true. Students often work on their—or their parents'—schedules. Children can choose to do their work first thing in the morning, or even break it up throughout the day. This allows parents or guardians more time to pick up hours at work, if they so choose, or tend to responsibilities throughout the day. As long as a child completes his or her work in the proper amount of time, they can study with a bit more freedom than their brick-and-mortar peers.

Can students start cyber school in the middle of the year?

Many cyber schools have rolling admissions. However, they may already be full at the time a student wants to change their schooling approach. Even in these cases, some program providers understand that those who want to change in the middle of the year are usually under extenuating circumstances. Perhaps a family is moving, or a child is in a dangerous situation at school. A good cyber service will take these into consideration and try to accommodate a child's situation.

Can cyber students participate in extracurricular activities?

In many cases, children can still join a school sports team, play in a band, or participate in clubs. VLN Partners explains that this depends on the individual district, though. Many are cooperative with cyber students, especially when the online school works alongside the district to ensure a cohesive learning experience.

Can children enroll for only one or two years?

Just like transferring between districts, most children can move between brick-and-mortar settings and online education. However, VLN Partners warns that this is not always easy if a program does not follow a traditional school's curriculum. If a student is expected to study online for only a short period, it is best to look for a provider that follows a district's curriculum. That prevents the need for a "catch-up" or remedial period immediately following the transfer.

VLN Partners Shares Tips for Parents to Help Cyber Students

Because there is no physical classroom for cyber students, their education relies on a solid foundation of time management and accountability. To encourage educational growth, students and parents need to create a structured environment and schedule to help them manage their work and time more effectively.

Set realistic goals. One of the biggest benefits of cyber schooling is that children can work at their own pace. However, to make the most of this advantage, parents should work with teachers to set realistic goals that take a child's learning abilities into account.

Measure progress. Once goals are set, keep track of a student's achievements and monitor how well the benchmarks are being met.

Communicate clearly. Keep an open dialogue with students. If a child is having difficulty, make sure to reach out to the teacher and let them know the situation.

Keep a regular schedule. While cyber students can study at various times, it is important to set and maintain a regular schedule. This will help to keep children on pace with the brick-and-mortar classroom.

While many students enjoy the freedom of cyber learning, advanced children, struggling students, or those with difficult schedules or situations in school can all benefit from online schooling, as well. VLN Partners urges parents to look at the unique advantages of learning remotely, and to see if their child can benefit from enrolling in a district's cyber school.

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