Online School

Posted by Michelle Anderson on

Schooling is a question that comes up a lot for potential junior hockey parents, especially online schools.  It wasn’t an option for most of us growing up, so it can be a huge unknown for us. You may think you got a little taste of online school with this pandemic since many schools sent everyone home suddenly this spring, but there are some differences you should be aware of.

Students didn’t really get a taste of online school this spring because online school isn’t just taking the classroom home by having everyone join a Zoom meeting and having students submit assignments to a Google Drive or via email.    This spring was thrust upon schools out of left field, and teachers and students alike were left scrambling to figure out a complete overhaul of the way we teach our children with no time to prepare.  While some schools were already using some technology in the classroom, the experience was not representative of what online school is like for either teacher or student.

You should also be aware that for high school students especially, they won’t be spending 7 hours a day doing school work. In a traditional school, not all of those hours are spent teaching.  There is time allotted for passing between classes, pep rallies, assemblies, announcements, and fire drills. Once you take those things out of the school week and then also remove all other time that isn’t the teacher's teaching, you’re down to about 3-4 hours a day on average.  

Of course, this can vary from day to day or by class even for the same student.  My son got one semester of one class done in three weeks, but he had to spend a lot more time on another and didn’t complete that one until the deadline.  All of his other classes fell somewhere in the middle. The beauty of online school is that this usually works out better for the student because students are generally working towards mastery.  They have to complete one thing before they are allowed to move on to the next, and with the flexibility of online school, the student can take the time they need.  They aren’t scrambling to keep up with the average, nor are they held back by it. 

Not all online schools are the same, obviously, but as long as they are accredited, it’s not usually the curriculum that you have to worry about.  They may go about things in different ways, but I didn’t find the actual school work part of it to be much different for my son. There were days my son would come home from traditional school and only have a little bit of homework, some days there would be a lot, and sometimes there were big projects.  The big worry with online school comes in with how your student learns best, and managing the time required.  

I’ll talk about time management for online students and more about what online school is like in weeks to come, but to start, I wanted to get you started with some terms you can search for to find out more about what is offered in your state or to help you find more information to help you make a decision about whether this is right for your family.  Some states or school districts also call online school things like homeschool, virtual school, or distance learning.  They might be called charter schools as well.  If one of those terms and your state don’t get you the answers you are looking for, try another one of those terms.  You can also try asking your local school district or state department of education, but be aware that you might meet some resistance from asking your local school.  After all, they lose funding for your student if you leave so they aren’t always forthcoming with information, so if you take this route, ask about homeschooling options and if there are ways they support local homeschooling families.

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