As important as it is that parents take charge of their children’s education and make the decisions that are best for their families, it is also important that students past the earliest elementary grades be a part of the decision-making process. Children who are unhappy with their school choice are less likely to be engaged in the learning process; less likely to make good grades; and less likely to be motivated to keep up, a key component of the virtual education process. There are multiple advantages of virtual schooling from the students’ perspective—many of which they will easily see on their own.
It’s not as important that they jump up in the morning and be ready to go. Students can choose for themselves—within the realm of parental guidance—which chunk of their day they want to spend on schoolwork. This is particularly advantageous for older students who have trouble dragging themselves out of bed in the morning—or, on the flip side, for students who are at their best first thing in the morning and become less focused as the day goes on. Along with that….
Students can choose what subject to do when. How many of us have had the experience of our longest, hardest, and most boring class of the day falling immediately after lunch? Most high school students have been there at least once over the course of their academic career—and it can be difficult to pay attention, harder to focus on a difficult assignment, and even harder get through the coursework. By choosing when these classes are “scheduled” throughout the day, it’s possible for an older student to devote the time and attention needed for their more difficult courses to those courses as necessary.
When they’re done for the day, they’re done. Once they’ve completed their schoolwork and done the necessary hours, they can simply be done, with no need to sit around waiting on others to finish. Since “hours” are typically determined by the time the lesson is designed to take, rather than the time actually spent on the lesson, this often works out in the student’s favor.
No bullies. Either of the peer or teacher variety. This alone is a hefty draw for many students, particularly those who have been placed in the situation of feeling that school is not a safe place for a long time.
All of their disabilities or problems are accounted for. If they learn a little bit slower than most, they have the ability to take things at their own pace. If they need accommodations, their parents can secure those for them with ease—no arguing with a classroom teacher over how giving more time for a test isn’t appropriate, or that there is no one to help them with reading or other issues. Self-paced learning also means that advanced students have the ability to get ahead without having to worry about what their peers will say about it.
Grades are mastery-based. At first, this may sound intimidating—you have to “get” the concept in order to move on. On the other hand…you have to “get” the concept in order to move on. No more grades that are based on the fact that you missed something back at the beginning of the semester and have been lost ever since. No more worrying that one failed test is going to destroy your grade—because you have the ability to study, then go back and retake it.
They can learn at home. This is a powerful incentive for many students. All of their materials are with them, within reach. They don’t have to worry about getting up and getting dressed every morning, or whether or not their outfit will both be “appropriate” and meet with peer approval. No makeup. No changing for PE in a locker room full of other students. No worry about what their peers will think if they don’t know the answer to a question; and no stigma for learning quickly, either. This alone is one of the reasons that many students prefer to make the switch.