What Are The Cons Of Online Public School?

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It is always a good idea to look at the pros and cons before making a decision about anything, and making a major decision about your child's school is certainly a major decision you want to think through before enrolling in a public online school.  

Public online schools have increased dramatically over the last several years.  While some families have reaped the benefits that are available from online schooling, it definitely does have certain drawbacks.


The Parent MUST Be Involved

The only person who will physically be present with your child when they are working on their school work is you, the parent.  You will be the one to make sure they do their work, have access to the needed equipment, troubleshoot any technical problems at home, and more.  This, of course, is all in addition to the regular involved parent duties of making sure homework is done, monitoring grades and facilitating conversation with teachers.  

Online schooling can look very tempting to parents who find themselves and their children in temporarily chaotic situations that require flexibility for their child to succeed in school.  Taking time to travel while knowing you can still stick to a schedule to complete school work on the road is an example of temporary chaos where online schooling could work.  Finding yourself in an unstable living situation because of natural disaster or economic hardship is probably not a good fit for online schooling.

 If you will not be able to monitor your child's work each day and provide help as needed, look for other solutions to continue your child's education.

Your Child Will Lose Some Or All Of The Opportunity to Meet Friends At School

Some school districts do allow online students to participate in extracurricular activities at their neighborhood public school.

 Still, your child will not be spending the day in a classroom with other children the same age, riding the same school bus or walking home together, and going through the same lesson with the same teacher as everyone else in the same room.

Your child may spend time virtually chatting with other students enrolled in their online school.  While these relationships  will help develop good online socializing skills, your child will probably not be meeting people that they can have over for playdates and sleepovers.  

Some parents may enjoy the extra control over their children's socialization that occurs from not attending the neighborhood school, but this often places more responsibility on the parent to make sure that their child gets to connect with other children.

It Is Harder To Find Good, Applicable Research For Online Public Schools

Researching how effective a school is for helping students learn can be tricky.  A simple view of the school's test scores may not provide a complete picture.

 Public schools of choice, such as online schools, are often places families turn to when their children haven't been successful at the neighborhood school.  There is often a complicated variety of reasons that have led to the child being unsuccessful, and merely putting the child in a different school will not make the problems automatically vanish.  A student with missing skills or special learning needs will need time to catch up once they find a program that is a good fit.  This can bring down the standardized test score averages for online schools, even when they are being effective for their students.

To make matters even more complicated is the relative newness of online courses for k-12 education.  Techniques and pedagogy are still in the early stages - although programs are quick to incorporate new methods and technology when appropriate.  Seeing sample lessons, speaking with other parent's of the online school's students, and finding out how the curriculum and materials align with the current state standards can help give you an idea of the school's actual quality.

Not All Online Courses Are NCAA Approved

Just because your state or local district is offering a course does not mean it will meet the requirements of future NCAA athletes.  If your middle or high school student hopes to get a college athletic scholarship, make sure that the classes they take are approved to make NCAA requirements.  Student-athletes are often extremely busy and may benefit from the flexibility of an online course.  Check and make sure that any non-traditional courses your child takes will still lead to eligibility.

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