When I began my homeschooling journey 21 years ago with my firstborn, I wasn’t thinking about high school. With a five-year-old, my concerns were developing phonemic awareness, building number recognition, and instilling a love of learning. At that time, to my knowledge, our options when we reached high school would be to continue homeschooling with me as the primary resource or enroll in a traditional school. However, today the array of educational choices can be overwhelming! One exciting opportunity that modern technology has provided is online classes.
The online option comes in many formats, each bringing its own advantages and responsibilities. There are complete diploma-granting virtual schools that replace the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom. Others may serve as supplemental instruction, similar to your friendly local homeschool co-op, but minus the geographical limitations. There are live (synchronous) as well as asynchronous varieties. When choosing an online class, the best match is going to depend on your and your student’s needs and the desired level of responsibility.
All three of my children participated in online classes in some form during their homeschooling experience. In some instances, it was because of a desire to have instruction and evaluation from someone else besides “mom” but in a limited and defined manner. Other times it was to complete a course that I was unable to teach (in the case of Chinese) or unwilling to teach (thanks to my own negative high school chemistry experience). In these situations, we turned to selected offerings from the charter virtual school in our state and, in the case of chemistry, a virtual co-op that used the same science program we were already using.
While the need to stay on pace with the class was at times difficult, it was also motivating for my children and an excellent transition to post-secondary studies. In some instances the volume of what we would consider “busy work” was staggering and at times encroached upon our other studies. Instructors varied as to their rigidity in grading. Having been otherwise responsible for their education, it was an adjustment to surrender a portion of that responsibility to another. In the end, however, I feel the experience of insights from another instructor, interacting with other students from different places in a controlled environment, and the accountability due to pacing made online classes a valuable choice in my children’s education.