There is an argument I’ve often heard in the homeschool community that online school isn’t really homeschooling. Well, I beg to differ. While many online programs are public school online, in the end, they are still homeschooling, here’s why.
When we first decided to homeschool my oldest there was one huge factor that led me to my decision, the fact that there was a cyber charter school in our town that would help me get started. You see I never had any intention of homeschooling, had no idea where to start, and seriously doubted my abilities.
The cyber school offered not only an online curriculum but also a boxed set that helped me feel confident with what I was doing, the support from IT staff and teachers gave me what I needed to start our homeschool journey!
Fast forward several years and we’ve used online programs on and off with each of my boys. In certain grades they have been very helpful, in certain stages of my sons’ education online school has helped us tremendously. Currently, we’re using an online school for my middle son’s high school education and it is working beautifully. Check out this article about some of the great benefits of virtual schooling for high school!
I hate it when I hear homeschoolers disparage online schooling as not “real homeschooling” because in my humble opinion as a 13-year homeschool veteran it most certainly is.
First, because well, you’re at home– So let’s start with a very basic truth. If your child is using an online program they are doing it at home… eh em… first step in homeschooling. And here’s the deal, there are a ton of reasons people choose to homeschool and a lot of them stem from having their child at home instead of in a school building. If you’re dealing with bullying, learning issues, anxiety… any number of reasons that you want to have your child at home, online schooling accomplishes that.
Second, you are very involved with your children’s education– I think that many people are under the impression that online programs are a hands-off kind of endeavour, that is so far from the truth. Depending on the program you are using you may be doing homework with your child or even 90% of the teaching. My son’s program is entirely self-paced. There are teachers who create the lessons and assignments who are available to help if needed but he navigates most of it on his own. At 16 he is able to do most of it independently but if he was younger I would be doing a ton of teaching alongside him. Even when we’ve used programs that involve live online classes I was there, making sure they understood everything, helping with assignments, being involved in their learning.
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Third, many homeschoolers use programs that are online– There are so so so many programs that are online, whole curriculums, math programs, reading games… the list goes on and on. Almost every homeschooler I know has at one time or another used online lessons of some kind. In this day and age, you’d be crazy not to! So to say that just because the majority of a program is online that it isn’t really homeschooling doesn’t make a lot of sense!
Yes, most online schools are technically public schools- I think this is where a lot of people get stuck. Most programs that are totally online are considered online public school. So your homeschool purists get caught up in that fact. While yes they require attendance, testing, paperwork, and other public school things it’s not a big deal. If you are looking to teach from particular religious or worldview likely they can’t accommodate you, but if you are looking for basic educational resources they have you covered.
I think the biggest issue with people poo-pooing the idea of online school as “real homeschooling” is that it discourages people who are using those programs from seeking support and encouragement from the homeschool community. When we are educating our kids at home, no matter what kind of program we use, help, support, and other moms to talk to is key in our success and I hate for anyone to feel left out of that. No matter what curriculum you choose to use as a homeschooler you need support! We need to extend a hand to each other instead of discriminating against those who choose a different approach!
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Online schooling is a great option for anyone first starting on their homeschool journey, or who has kids in high school and wants to make sure everything is covered. It is a great option for families with kids of many ages, or a new baby. It is a free option for people who might have financial limitations to homeschooling…. The list goes on and on.
So yes, online school is definitely homeschooling. It may not look the same as other people’s but every homeschool is different, everyone’s approach is different and at the end of the day if it works for your family it’s a good thing!