Do You Know the Difference Between an Online School and Doing School from Home?

3 min to read
middle school boy plays guitar in front of laptop and sheet music

Are you doing school online right now during the coronavirus outbreak? Chances are that many families who have had to jump into distance learning are making it work balancing jobs, school, and family responsibilities. 

But what is online school, and how is it different from doing online courses from home? There are so many options for virtual lessons and supplemental courses—it’s hard to choose the right online learning for your child. With over 20 years of providing full-time online school to K–12 students, we put together a list of important features to look for when choosing remote learning for your child.


Online school offers a complete curriculum

An online school should offer a complete curriculum that includes all required core subjects: language arts, math, science, and social studies. You aren’t an education expert, so you shouldn’t have to shoulder the major lift in finding the right combination of courses and materials (and making sure you don’t forget anything) that works best for your child. That’s why an online school puts together a comprehensive curriculum, packaged with all the requirements leading to promotion from grade to grade and, eventually, high school graduation.


A digital-first learning experience

Online school offers a digital-first experience. “Classrooms” are virtual meeting spaces where teachers and students interact in a safe space for distance learning and socializing. Students complete their lessons online, and you have an easy way to check grades and communicate with school staff—all from a centralized platform. This minimizes your time managing multiple logins so you can streamline getting connected and learning for your student.


Music, art, and PE

While music, art, and PE may feel like extras, students benefit from balancing purely academic workloads with the arts and physical education. Studies have shown that students benefit from better engagement, compassion for others, and more when these courses are included.


Support from online school counselors

School counselors not only support a student’s emotional needs, they help students pick classes, plan for college, and more. Online school counselors help students set and reach their life goals. At a time of heightened anxiety, access to a full range of school professionals may be extra helpful and needed.


Social activities from home

Socializing looks different right now in the age of social distancing. But online schools have been doing this for a long time. In fact, parents have more sway over how socializing in online school takes place. What does this look like? Through virtual clubs and groups, online K–12 students and parents can choose the activities they’d like to participate in. They can also choose whether those interactions are strictly online or whether they meet in real life (when we’re not social distancing). And because online school allows students to have more scheduling flexibility, parents have time to schedule music lessons, volunteering, religious practice, or other activities.


Teachers who are trained to teach online

Another important difference between online school and doing lessons online is that online school has teachers who have been trained to teach in an online platform. Online school teachers have honed specific methods and techniques that work for online learning. More importantly, you aren’t expected to be the teacher. It’s hard enough being the parent! But many parents are so engaged and interested in their children’s learning that they become their child’s Learning Coach. The Learning Coach is the person who provides mentoring, accountability, and contact with teachers as needed.

Online school is a complete school experience—-just done from your home! With the set curriculum, trained teachers, and other outlets for creative and social expression, we know it’s the right setting where so many students can thrive.

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