By: Janese Claar on May 25th, 2021
Is Online School the Best Choice for You and Your Student?
When you think of schooling, you most likely think of the traditional school model, brick and mortar. So why would you consider online learning in a virtual environment? There are many reasons to explain why parents are moving away from brick and mortar and looking into online schools. Some of the reasons have to do with factors in our environment and society. Parents, you are aware that bullying in school can carry over into the community in which you are raising your child. There is also an increase in emotional, behavioral, and psychological conditions that are impeding students’ social, emotional, and academic development. Other reasons may be related to the overall quality of education within the districts.
After over a year, the COVID-19 pandemic is still a big concern in schools. Teachers may be vaccinated, but all of the students are not, so there is a fear among parents that their child could be exposed. If the child is exposed to the virus, then the student has to quarantine for 14 days per the PA Department of Education and the CDC guidelines.
Students at PA Virtual receive an education from teachers who were trained to teach online. There are also clubs and socializing with peers online, where there is not a fear of transmission of the virus. The virtual setting does not have to rely on COVID-19 trends that will change its model, as the model has stayed consistent throughout the pandemic. Students know what to expect and the high standards have been maintained because this is the normal way they learn each day.
All schools have bullying policies, but some are more thorough than others. What these policies sometimes neglect is the fact that bullying often happens when no one is around to witness it. As parents, we hope that our child confides in us but by the time they get home a lot could have happened.
When students attend cyber school from home, we as parents can monitor what is happening throughout the day. During breaks, we can have an open conversation if our children have any concerns. When students are in a brick-and-mortar school, they may worry that if they tell the wrong person about the bullying, the consequences will be worse. When students are at home, it is a safe place and they can let their emotions out. If they don’t want to tell the parent about a bullying concern, there are still teachers and administration that they can communicate with. The student does not have the fear that the wrong person is going to overhear and the bullying will get worse. This is a huge perk of online schools.
Bullying doesn’t just end at school. The student might feel like everyone knows what is happening so they start to confine themselves away from others and not want to go out. They think that the bully controls what will happen to them when they go out. At PA Virtual, cyber school students can have a bad day but will not think that everyone in their community knows what is going on. They can talk to a parent, teacher, or administrator when they are feeling bad or scared. The student doesn’t have to wait until no one is looking or around to find a safe place. Our home is a safe place and we are building a climate that lets our children know they are safe and they are loved. There are so many tragic bullying stories and we want to keep our children safe.
Parents who have students who are shy or have social anxiety know that they often thrive in online learning. There is a buffer for these students. Shy students often sit quietly, anxiously waiting for class to start so that they do not have to engage in social interaction. While most students enjoy the free time, shy kids often dread it because they are not talking to their peers and they could be self-conscious about what is being said about them.
When parents decide to change learning environments, they see that their child is more relaxed. Parents notice how at ease their child is in between classes because they do not feel like they are all alone on a stage. I saw that with my child. When my daughter did not have to engage in meaningless social activities, she was willing to be involved in other activities. She was more social because the socialization was not implied but on her own terms. Another interesting thing was that her grades improved because she did not need to go to the front of the room to hand in her homework. Her homework was turned in because she knew no one was watching. Online learning alleviates the anxiety for these students and they can concentrate on school.
Students with autism often thrive in an online school. Parents find that their child works at their own pace in this model. Oftentimes the student becomes focused on a particular subject because it interests them. They are learning through a process that stimulates them and at times consumes them. In brick and mortar schools, the teacher often redirects these students, which frustrates the student because they are learning and engaged. With the online forum, the student is learning with the teacher but also has the freedom to delve deeper into the subject they are learning about. They do this without it being pointed out, which is a definite benefit.
Another bonus of online learning is that students can block out stimuli that can cause anxiety. In their home, they have their comfort and security, so students can refocus if they become agitated. During this process, no one is noticing because the student is able to smoothly do what they are used to in order to calm down. The online environment has been beneficial in these areas.
Not all school districts are equal. Some schools do not have the funding and influence to provide the same type of education as another school district has. These are the districts that parents used to shy away from that would contribute to the decline of the market value of houses. Fundamentally these districts are not a place where parents want their child because of the quality and atmosphere. With online schooling, parents get to choose the best curriculum and school for their child regardless of their zip code. Online schools provide a competitive academic curriculum along with clubs and extracurricular activities. There are several ways for the students to connect and make friends while the parents get to be a crucial part of the process.
There are many different reasons that parents choose an online school for their children. One of the biggest benefits is that you can be an important part of your child’s life and his or her educational journey. You get to spend extra time during the day with them that you would not have if they went to a brick-and-mortar school. With all the traveling to and from school, we as parents get a disconnect from our children because everything is so busy. With online school, we get a few extra minutes throughout the day that we wouldn’t get otherwise.
It is said that in society the biggest problem is that children do not have a strong connection to their families. With online school, there is more of a family connection. Children are seeing that they matter to their parents and that their education matters. Educating our children academically and socially within the family environment can have various positive effects. These are many of the common reasons that parents are choosing online schools. Do you think that online school would be a good fit for your family?
If you'd like to learn more about cyber charter schools in PA, check out our Ultimate Guide to Attending a Cyber Charter School in PA. This guide will help you weigh the pros and cons of cyber schooling and help you determine if a cyber school would benefit your family.
About the Author: Janese Claar is a kindergarten teacher at PA Virtual.