What’s the Difference Between Homeschooling and Virtual School?
We’re living in a time when it seems like technology can handle every task. Even schools are evaluating their classroom environments to include virtual school experiences. You may be asking yourself, what is virtual school? Let’s take a look!
While homeschooling and virtual school may appear similar, they’re very different. These two learning environments are identical in that learning takes place outside of formal classrooms, but that’s about it. Homeschooling has been around for decades. However, virtual schooling is relatively new, leading some to ask, “What is virtual school?”
What is Homeschooling?
Homeschooling involves a parent or guardian serving as the teacher and choosing the curriculum for the student. The policies for curriculum choice and reporting progress vary based on state laws.
Homeschooling families can tailor lessons to a student’s educational needs or areas of interest. Homeschooling also allows families to include faith-based studies in their child’s education.
Depending on state laws, homeschooled students may be exempt from some or all standardized state testing.
What is Virtual Schooling?
With virtual schools, the learning still takes place outside of the classroom but with different methods. Virtual schooling mixes online discussions, lectures, and independent studies.
The curriculum and lessons are prepared by a private or public school professional. Parents are in-home coaches helping keep students on track with their studies.
Students are still required to achieve state educational benchmarks and pass any mandated testing.
How Does Virtual School Work?
Virtual schooling can be different from one school to another or even one teacher to another. Students participate in online discussions in a virtual school environment, watch recorded or live lectures, and communicate electronically. Some virtual school environments require following a set schedule, but most are flexible.
A flexible virtual schooling schedule allows students to complete their work based on their learning preferences or extracurricular activities. A student who focuses better in the morning can work on weaker subjects in the morning when they’re mentally prepared. For many students, this freedom allows them to enjoy subjects they once loathed.
Virtual schooling reassures parents by providing a trained professional to monitor the student’s progress. Students report to an educator who records grades, communicates with parents or administrators, and assigns lessons. This style is almost identical to a formal school setting but virtual.
Who Should Consider Going to Virtual School?
Families who regularly travel and need the extra flexibility could benefit from virtual school. Students can complete their lessons remotely and often only require a stable internet connection. Who wouldn’t want to complete their school work and then hit the beach or a national park?
Families that enjoy the idea of homeschooling but still require some structure could also benefit from virtual schooling. Virtual schooling provides students with a professional teacher who can assist with learning new content and material. That can help ease the pressure on parents.
What Are the Benefits of Virtual School?
Virtual schooling is an excellent tool for preparing students for higher education. Many colleges and universities incorporate online learning in their coursework. Students will need self-discipline to thrive there, a skill that virtual schooling imparts to many students.
Many students who are heavily committed to extracurricular activities also benefit from virtual schooling. There’s a significant amount of downtime in formal classrooms due to there being one teacher for every 20 to 30 students. Instead of chatting with friends, virtual students can use this time to do more productive activities.
What Are the Challenges of Virtual School?
Virtual schooling isn’t for everyone. Many students thrive in a formal classroom environment. They might struggle with the flexibility that virtual schooling provides. The controlled environment of traditional schooling helps keep students away from distractions like video games.
Virtual schooling can also be a lot more work for families. Because of the freedom in scheduling, families must work as a team and keep priorities in check. If a family is traveling, they may have to go out of their way to get a stable internet connection.
There’s also less social interaction than you’d get from traditional schooling. Formal classroom environments provide a tremendous amount of face-to-face time with other students and teachers. Virtual schooling relies on communicating through screens and emails, which can stunt a student’s social skills.
There Are Options For Education
One of the great things about the times we’re living in is that families have options for educating their children. What works best for one family may not work best for another family. Discovering what works best for your family can be a challenging experience but also rewarding. Do you feel like you could now answer the question of what is virtual school? Does your family participate in homeschool or virtual school?