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Why Virtual School (And Not Homeschool)?

So much curriculum for so many different learning styles!
So much curriculum for so many different learning styles!
Emily L. Goodman

For many parents, the choice to remove their children from a brick and mortar educational system is an easy one. They know that something isn’t working there, for whatever reason: a child with behavioral problems, with health problems, or who is being bullied. Deciding which system to use, however, can be a challenge. Should they traditionally homeschool, including the purchase of curriculum and materials? Virtual school? Some combination thereof, as they work toward improving a child’s educational performance? It’s not an easy decision, nor is it one that is undertaken lightly. So why decide to virtual school?

It’s free. This is one of the leading reasons why parents are first attracted to schools like the Tennessee Virtual Academy. They receive their materials and teacher assistance free of charge, just like they would if their children were enrolled in a brick and mortar school. For parents hovering on the poverty line, this can be an invaluable tool.

There’s teacher support. Sure, there are plenty of free resources out there. Many of them are available on the internet; and it’s relatively easy to find videos that deal with almost any subject that you want to teach your child. Of course, you have to preview them first to make sure that they’re appropriate and actually teach the content. And then there’s the very real possibility that the video won’t be what your child needs. In the long run, you may well end up sitting down and explaining the concept yourself, regardless of how many different ways you try to get your child to learn it.

And what if you don’t understand the concept?

Now, there’s a very real possibility that this will happen while your child is being virtual schooled, as well. There will be times when the teacher isn’t available, or when there are other things that take up class times, so that your student doesn’t necessarily get the one-on-one time necessary to fully grasp a new concept. It happens. However, this is also true of a standard, brick and mortar classroom.

The availability of trained, licensed, professional teachers is one of the greatest draws to the virtual education system when compared to homeschooling. They know multiple different methods to explain this stuff to your kid, and a good teacher will sit down and explain it to the best of his or her ability for just as long as possible.

You have access to plenty of supplies and plenty of support. There’s a built-in community of support available to K12 students and parents, from an active Facebook group to a parent directory that gives you access to local parents who attend the school. Homeschooling can feel like a very lonely road, but with K12, you’re not doing it alone.

Your kids are still getting a public education. Now, wait. There are a lot of people who think that the “public education system” is what’s failing their child to begin with, and that’s why they’re so up in arms about removing them from a brick and mortar school. However, that public system is the one that sets the standards for the entire state. It’s what colleges look at. It sets the standards for what your students will need to know if they ever go back to school.

How long do you intend to homeschool? All the way through high school? Great! Is your child going to college? Sooner or later, they’re going to need either a GED or a diploma. Intend to have your children attend a brick and mortar high school? Then you’re going to want them to be on an academic level with their peers—and not just in the subjects that you’re most comfortable with.

The state of Tennessee has multiple standards that are intended to be taught to each student each year. They can be found at http://www.tn.gov/education/; but for an inexperienced parent, the idea of constructing a curriculum that meets each and every one of those standards over the course of the year can feel utterly overwhelming. Remember, once your child passes elementary school, there are different teachers who are responsible for each of those content areas, making it easier for them to break them down. Doing it all on your own is a challenge that many parents aren’t prepared to face on their own.

By using the Tennessee Virtual Academy, parents are assured that their child will be getting an education that meets all of these standards. They won’t be attempting to navigate the maze of standards on their own (and some of them can be quite vague, particularly in the later grades). They will have the support of experienced curriculum designers behind them.

The K12 curriculum uses multiple different educational methods. There are videos; online games; and offline material. Some of it is straight reading; some of it is read to them; some of it, they get off the computer and experience for themselves. It includes written, auditory, and kinesthetic instruction to appeal to a variety of different learning styles. Many free curriculums simply can’t do that. Online curriculums certainly have visual instruction available, and a few even have auditory, but that can’t provide the variety of materials that are available for Tennessee Virtual Academy students.

K12 has a well-organized system that is easy to navigate. Even as early as kindergarten and first grade, parents report that their children are able to navigate the online learning system by themselves. Expectations are clearly laid out. Any advance prep required for the learning coach is listed ahead of time. There is never any confusion about what is needed next, nor is there need for the parent to back up and try to figure out “where they’re going from here.” Everything is already designed for them, the entire year’s curriculum laid out in a manner that is easy to follow and simple to understand. The books follow a straight line with the online system, and the different materials are neatly labeled and easy to work with.