For many parents, the choice between homeschooling and virtual schooling is an easy one. Some parents prefer to design their own curriculum, set their own schedules, and decide for themselves what their children are going to do day-to-day. For others, the idea of designing curriculum and coming up with lesson plans every single day feels daunting, and the Tennessee Virtual Academy’s ready-made curriculum and pre-set lesson plans seem like a gift. Some, however, fall squarely in the middle, unsure of whether they want to traditionally homeschool or seek out a public school option that allows their children to learn at home—and they may not be sure of the advantages that each one offers.
Sure, the website has plenty of reasons why K12 is the best option available for any student; but the website is designed to draw students into the school. And certainly, there are plenty of glowing testimonies concerning the effectiveness of a virtual education for a variety of different students. Still, some parents may be skeptical, especially given the current push toward limiting virtual schooling opportunities in the state of Tennessee. The question arises, then: what are the real advantages of virtual schooling?
You can set your own schedule. With a very few exceptions—mandatory state testing and monthly conferences, the latter of which are designed for parental convenience—it doesn’t matter if your family prefers to work early in the morning or late at night after most of the world is sound asleep. Schoolwork can be done when it’s convenient for you and your child, rather than being crammed into a pre-determined schedule that may nor may not work for a given child.
The curriculum is already designed for you…but you have options. There’s no need to lesson plan every day, or to seek out worksheets and activities for every subject. There are teachers on hand to answer any questions that your student might have, particularly those that you don’t know the answer to yourself (and there are always questions that you either can’t quite remember the answer to, or that you can’t explain as adequately as you need to). On the other hand, you have the ability supplement the curriculum any time you want to, adding educational videos, websites, and games at your discretion or taking a day off for a field trip. You have the ability to take charge of your child’s education, but without the need to examine every lesson in minute detail before they complete it.
There is still plenty of potential for interaction with other students—but with complete adult supervision. In short: no bullying. Kids can chat with one another, share with one another, and learn together without the fear that one child will be cruel to another. If things do start to get out of hand—which is very rare—there is always an adult on hand to put a stop to it. As an added advantage, that “other child” is always on the other side of a computer screen—your child can get away from them just by walking away from the computer.
Your child can be as independent as you want them to be. Do you have to supervise? Of course. However, most lessons can be completed independently, with the materials provided by TNVA. Between the internet lessons, the books and workbooks, and teacher support, students can learn with a minimal amount of assistance from you. That means that you have the freedom to get them started on a lesson, then attend to other things that need your attention—and once they are familiar with the system, they will become even more independent, able to follow their daily plans and individual lessons with minimal prompting.