Whether it’s the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic or the discovery that their students thrived in an online learning environment this past year, millions of families have enrolled in virtual schools for 2021/2022.
For those who’ve already taken advantage of remote learning, it’s been a seamless transition from summer into fall. But if you’re new to the virtual world, the switch from an in-person classroom to an online environment has come with its own learning curve, from selecting a school to picking courses.
With almost 800 virtual or blended schools, including school district-based virtual programs and private virtual academies, to choose from, finding the best fit means a happier student now and a more prepared student come time for college. To ensure both, it’s critical to evaluate your current online school on these four considerations:
1. The school is accredited, and the teachers are certified. When an online school is fully accredited, you can ensure your student’s course credits will transfer if they change schools and that they’ll fulfill college admission requirements upon graduation. In addition, a high-quality school will offer College Board-approved Advanced Placement® courses, and for student athletes, provide NCAA-approved classes so they’re eligible to compete on a college level.
Just as important as an accredited school are the teachers who staff it. At Apex Learning Virtual School (ALVS), our certified teachers have on average 21 years of teaching experience, including seven years of online education, and provide individualized, expert support to each and every student.
2. The school adapts to your child’s learning style – not the other way around. A traditional classroom often relies on a one-size-fits-all approach to learning. However, this can mean children who need a challenge are stifled, students with learning problems are left struggling, and those with busy schedules outside school are overwhelmed.
Your virtual school should meet your student where they are with high-quality, personalized and engaging curriculum that provides a rich learning experience. For instance, virtual learning removes the sensory overload and distractions that impact a neurodivergent student’s focus, gears education to their evolving interest in a particular subject, and provides ongoing support in the moment.
Whether your student prefers an accelerated pace, needs additional time to grasp certain concepts, is ready for college-level courses, or prefers independent, hands-on learning, their virtual school should help them thrive.
3. You and your student have a team by your side. For parents who homeschool, virtual schools help fill in academically where a parent might not feel up to par– let’s face it, not everyone is both an English major and a trigonometry whizz. For those who work outside the home, you want a school that can answer your child’s questions and provide support so you don’t receive panicked phone calls all day.
At ALVS, independent learners have real-time access to teachers and tutors six days a week through text or video chats, and any questions in our message center are returned within one day. In addition, our academic advisors can help you and your student determine the best courses to take to meet graduation and college admission guidelines.
4. Your child’s stress – and yours – melts away. That relief your child is feeling is a sure sign online learning was the right decision. After years of being constrained by a traditional school day – from the seven hours spent in the classroom to the evenings spent dedicated to homework – the freedom of learning at the own pace erases a student’s exhaustion and their parents’ frustration.
In addition, researchers have found online learning can actually be healthier for students by strengthening the family bonds that boost cognitive development, increase a child’s self-reliance and help them become more independent. Many parents also reported that virtual learning helped decrease their children’s behavioral issues, eased stressors like bullying and anxiety that affected their learning, and improved their grade point average.
When it comes to your child’s virtual school, you want to feel confident you made the best choice. By asking administrators and teachers the right questions and letting your student’s learning style guide your decision, you won’t have to second guess yourself. To learn how ALVS is empowering students with opportunities they won’t find anywhere else and providing them with support at every step in their journey toward graduation, listen to a few of our testimonials.