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The Parent Perspective: What I learned from my son’s online learning experience

The Parent Perspective: What I learned from my son’s online learning experience

Many parents may be weighing whether or not they should move their students to a private, virtual school this fall. With so much uncertainty about how the school year will look, that’s clearly a valid decision.

As the father of a recent Apex Learning Virtual School (ALVS) graduate, Steve Savad wanted to share his story and a few thoughts you might consider before you make the switch to a fully virtual school.

My son’s high school career was by no means typical. Although he grew up in New York City, he attended multiple boarding schools, a wilderness camp in Maine, a unique equestrian school in Utah, and he even participated in an archaeological dig at the University of Tel Aviv before he eventually transferred to ALVS for his senior year. He had a variety of ups and downs and some personal struggles as a high school student which made staying in one place a challenge.

But despite all of the moving around, he is a naturally gifted child and consistently maintained a B-average. Fortunately, when we made the move to ALVS, he did not have to make up many of his previous courses, but we did need to put together a patchwork of classes to ensure he had all the required credits he needed to graduate.

As you explore your options, I thought it might help hearing from another parent who has just gone through the process. Below I share a few considerations before you enroll your student either at ALVS or any other private online school.

1. Is your student capable of self-motivation, and if not, will you be able to help?

Taking online courses is nothing like when your student is sitting in a classroom and the teacher is reminding them what homework is due, what course content is required and when the next test will take place.

Online learning is a very different experience (as nearly every parent discovered this past spring!). If your student is not self-motivated, will you (or others around them) be able to support them through the process and help them manage their schedule, set goals and meet their deadlines?

If they fall behind, it can become stressful and overwhelming and they may or may not be able to finish a course. I was quite a distance away from my son as he was taking ALVS courses, so I had to find unique ways to motivate him from a distance, which was definitely more challenging.

2. Work closely with school counselors to meet your needs.

When my son transferred to ALVS, we were able to partner with the school counselor and work closely with him to make sure all of his courses were considered and would meet graduation requirements.

Not only that, my son had a chance to voice his opinion on the courses he would prefer. There is some flexibility in the requirements, and it’s nice to be able to provide your student with the option to choose what interests them.

3. Celebrate the milestones.

At an online school, it’s almost even more important to recognize the accomplishments of your student. Without the typical structure and foundation of a regular classroom or school, acknowledging your student’s hard work is important.

Nearly all of the students at ALVS go on to attend very prestigious colleges and universities. Celebrating their milestones, and especially their graduation, in the form of a framed diploma and recognition from teachers, can make a big difference in how students feel about their accomplishment.

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