Will My Child Miss Out with Virtual School? Online vs In-Person School Pros and Cons for Parents

5 min to read
Social and Character Development in Online School

Your child’s education is important, and so are their social skills and character development. If you’re considering enrolling your child in a virtual school but are worried that they won’t have the same opportunities as in a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom, think again!

Children who attend online school can have very similar socialization opportunities as they would in traditional school, while receiving a well-rounded education that prepares them for life after graduation. So what are some of the suspected “cons” of online school? Let’s address them together.

Online vs. In-Person School Pros and Cons

To help parents make the best choice possible for their student, below are some of the primary pros and cons of online school compared to brick-and-mortar school. 

Online School Pros

There are many benefits of attending online school including greater flexibility, fewer distractions, access to proven curriculum, more adaptable learning opportunities, and more! Many students thrive when placed in an online learning environment. But don’t just take our word for it—you can hear from some of them directly!

Online School Cons

One of the greatest hesitations parents have about enrolling their child in online school is the perceived isolation of learning from home. But as you’ll see in the examples below, many of these “cons of online school” are in fact unique opportunities for growth, including:

Socialization Opportunities

One of the biggest online vs in-person school pros and cons that is often discussed is socialization. It’s still a common misconception that online school limits social interaction for kids, and many of our enrolled families prove the opposite

In reality, online students have access to student clubs, field trips, volunteer opportunities, and more. Some schools have designated community coordinators, who manage events for families, principals, and teachers to meet face-to-face. Virtual school technology creates collaborative learning environments and, through Connections Academy tools such as Pearson Online Classroom and LiveLesson® sessions enables real-time teacher-to-student and student-to-student interactions. And much like in a brick-and-mortar school setting, your child can typically choose from many student organizations to find activities that fit his or her interests and needs.

Students volunteering after attending online school.

Character Development

Through an online education, students can develop essential life skills that may be harder to attain in a traditional school setting, such as independence and time management. Online schooling encourages students to make schoolwork a priority on their own, and many schools have opportunities for self-paced learning.

Parents of online learners can work with their children to create a daily routine and keep track of their own schedule, which, along with a virtual learning environment, can help your child gain maturity and independence. No matter what your educational philosophy may be, you likely see personal and character development as important parts of your child’s education. And as a virtual school parent, you can instill these values throughout your child’s school day.


Online learners have the unique opportunity to create their own personalized learning experience. Many online schools offer programs that adapt to individualized instruction, so each student can learn at their own pace and in their distinctive learning style. For instance, some students may do well in a Gifted and Talented curriculum, while others may perform better with an age-appropriate curriculum structure. Some schools may also offer high school students the opportunity to take college courses while simultaneously earning high school credits.

Teacher Accessibility

Another advantage of online schooling that is often perceived as a “con” of virtual learning is accessibility to their teachers. Actually, online school students often have increased access to certified teachers for instruction, grading, and support. Teachers are available via email, real-time classroom sessions, and telephone conversations.

Online teachers are able to give each student individualized attention and meet students’ academic needs. They can tend to different learning preferences and incorporate the unique learning tools offered by online schooling into lesson plans to address diverse student needs. An online learning environment also allows for more technology-focused instruction, which prepares students for college and beyond.

A parent and her online student connect with a teacher.

Parent Involvement

The increased parental involvement often required with online school enrollment isn’t a con of online school, but rather a significant advantage for young students. The person who supports the student’s education at home is typically a parent or other trusted adult, also called the Learning Coach. With an active support role at home, the Learning Coach reinforces that education is a top priority and guides daily learning activities. While students in grades K–5 require significant parent engagement, they become more responsible in grades 6 and beyond. Though the roles of parents and teachers shift throughout a child’s virtual school education, parents are always a large source of student success and online learning integration.

Parent involvement can take many forms, such as helping your child plan each week, offering rewards and incentives for completing assignments, or pushing your child to try new clubs and activities. Depending on your child’s personality and learning style, you will learn how much supervision and support he or she needs by partnering with teachers. Sometimes, your child may just need you to be his or her cheerleader and offer encouragement through difficult situations.

Now that you know the pros and cons of online school (and just how many of those online school cons are actually pros!), you can make the best choice for your child for online schooling. It’s important to note that most online schools start open enrollment in March, so now is the time to do your research and find the school that is right for you and your family. 

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