What You Need to Know About Sending Your Kids to Cyber School

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Do you shudder to think of your little one returning to the classroom amid the pandemic? Kids are unpredictable creatures, and they sometimes engage in risky behavior without recognizing the potential consequences. Could cyber school give you peace of mind? 

Online learning has progressed significantly, and the pandemic highlights the multiple benefits of this mode of education. As a parent, however, you need to evaluate several factors to make learning engaging and rewarding. Here are eight questions to ask about your child’s cyber school to ensure your young learner receives a quality educational experience. 

1. Is the School Accredited?  

Before the pandemic, public schools offered few online learning options. Since then, many districts have incorporated or expanded such programs. However, the virtual environment requires a different teaching skill set, and you may wish to opt for an accredited online charter school that has embraced this learning process for years. 

Why does accreditation matter? You don’t want your graduating senior facing colleges rejecting their applications because of its lack. Plus, accreditation ensures that your institution meets or exceeds quality standards approved by experts in the field. 

2. How Do They Prepare Your Child for a Career? 

The working world continues to grow more specialized, which means that students face increased pressure to choose an academic track early. Many experts recommend beginning a career pathway in ninth or tenth grade, but not all cyber schools offer such personalized instruction. Try to select an institution that provides this flexibility. 

3. What Schedule Flexibility Do They Offer? 

Cyber schools vary widely in the schedule flexibility they offer. Some operate similarly to traditional public schools — teachers keep 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. office hours. Others empower your child to learn any time of the day or night. 

Which option works best? It depends on your family’s unique circumstances. Younger children often do better with the structure a traditional school day provides. However, if your kids are in high school, they might thrive in a more flexible environment that enables them to work a part-time job to save for college. Both models encourage your student to improve their time-management skills through the independent nature of virtual instruction. 

4. What Are the Preferred Communication Methods?  

When your child has a question in a traditional classroom, they raise their hand for help. Where do they turn when they learn from home? While you want to encourage independence, learners do need guidance. Schools that prioritize communication between students, parents and teachers should move to the top of your options list. 

If possible, talk to your child’s potential instructors before enrolling and ask them how they support their students. Technology enables anyone to get a free virtual phone number, and many teachers use VoIP and text to communicate. Some might post their office hours in their syllabuses, and still others might only correspond via class discussion boards and live class sessions. Make sure you feel comfortable with your ability to ask for help when needed. 

5. What Are the Types of Assessments Used? 

If the cyber school you select is advertised as public, your child will need to take the same standardized tests they did in the traditional classroom. However, relatively few institutions have onsite locations with space enough for all, and your child may need to report to a specified location for proctoring these exams. If you live in a rural area, this arrangement may mean traveling a substantial distance.

Ask about the arrangements for taking state-mandated exams, as well as the notification method for changes. The education department suspended these testing requirements this spring, and they may do so in the coming year. 

6. What Are the Average Class Sizes? 

If you think class sizes don’t matter in virtual learning, think again. One of the advantages of online education is rapid, individualized feedback on your child’s assignments. Teachers need to give more detailed advice for your child to get the most out of learning via this medium. However, like anyone else, their time is limited, and overflowing to-do inboxes reduces how much they can spend responding to and interacting with individuals. 

7. Is It Fully Virtual or Blended Environment? 

Many cyber schools offer a 100% virtual experience. However, some partner with public schools to incorporate a hybrid model where children attend traditional classes for a portion of the day, and then study individual interests independently. 

Expect these options to expand as public schools seek ways to educate all learners while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Many are going to alternate days or weeks, and enabling students to study independently for part of the day can limit the number of individuals on campus. 

8. Do They Offer Extracurricular and Academic Enhancement Activities? 

Your child can earn academic scholarships at any accredited institution, but if they hope to defray college costs through sports or music, they need the opportunity to participate. Ask what extracurricular activities your potential school offers before enrollment. Some smaller schools that lack the numbers for teams or bands partner with public districts to enable students to participate. 

Ask These Questions Before Sending Your Kids to Cyber School 

When it comes to your child’s education, you need to make the best decision. Asking the eight questions above can tell you what you need to know about switching your child to a cyber school. 

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