Online school can be a wonderful, even life-changing experience for many students. But it’s not the right choice for everyone, and sometimes parents who haven’t had much exposure to a virtual learning environment are uncertain how to determine whether or not their child or teen might be a good fit for an online school option.
In the interest of starting that discussion, let’s take a look at six indicators that suggest a student has the potential to do well in an online school environment:
One: A traditional school schedule doesn’t seem to be working anymore for your child.
In a traditional school setting, students attend class at the same time every day, begin and end their assignments at prescribed times, and arrive and leave school based on the prodding of a bell schedule or the arrival of the bus or carpool. While some students need or prefer that type of pre-determined structure and predictability to stay on track, others may find that they thrive in a more flexible environment where they exercise greater control over their day-to-day schedule.
In some cases, students enjoy self-scheduling because they want to go above and beyond mandatory curriculum to learn more or to take extra coursework in subjects of interest. Other students may prefer flexible learning environments because they like to work at a fast pace. A flexible school option also works well for students who want extra time to pursue their interests in the arts, athletics, or other endeavors that may lead to college scholarships or future careers.
Whatever your student’s situation, if you’re noticing that he seems constrained by a traditional school schedule, or that he’s spending so much time managing a traditional school schedule and his extra-curricular activity that he’s not getting adequate rest or family time, it may be worth it to investigate an online schooling option.
Two: Your student loves a challenge.
Successful online students tend to enjoy trying new things and are unafraid of doing something “different”. They also enjoy mastering new skills, and while (like all students) they have subjects they like more than others, they generally fall into the category of “lovers of learning”.
Three: Your student is a self-starter.
If your child is the type of person who is internally motivated (“Just tell me when it’s due and I’ll make sure it gets done”) and enjoys working independently with minimal supervision, he or she may be an excellent fit for an online schooling environment.
Having said that, however, I’d like to offer an additional thought about online students as independent workers: While it’s true that a student who doesn’t like learning and working independently might struggle with an online school setting, it’s also true that online students don’t work in 100% isolation. At iUniversity Prep, for example, teachers often direct students to work in small groups in virtual conference rooms, on projects or in-class exercises. It’s also not uncommon for our students to participate in real-time activities such as community service events, social meet-ups, and so forth.
Four: Your student is a strong reader.
Not all successful online students are bookworms, but they do tend to be students who can process large amounts of written information or written directions, are reading on or above grade level, and have some degree of competency when it comes to note-taking.
Five: Your student is motivated by accomplishments.
Students who do well in online environments tend to be those who are motivated by checking accomplishments off the list, so to speak. “I’ve attended all of my lessons this week, I’ve finished my assignments due through next week, I’ve signed up for Service Club, now I’ve got the extra time I need to rehearse for my ballet competition next weekend.”
Six: Your student has friends and interests that aren’t tied to traditional school.
While there are plenty of opportunities to make friends in an online school environment, the social aspect of online school is different than that of traditional school, where a child’s friends might be physically located around the corner instead of across town or even several hours away. At our online school we find that students who are among the most satisfied with the experience are those who have friends from their previous school or their extra-curricular activity, or from their church, their place of work, or their volunteer activity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Kaye Rogers received her Ph.D. in Educational Administration with a minor in Statistics from the University of North Texas. She earned her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Tarleton State University. A life-long Texan, she has taught math and science in public schools and also in Spain. She has worked in public education for over 18 years, where she is committed to innovation and choice for families. She has opened three choice schools and is currently the Director of Virtual Learning at Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, where she oversees their state-wide virtual school and blended schools program.
Learn more about iUniversity Prep and see if online learning is right for your child. Check us out at www.iuniversityprep.org or give us a call at 817-305-4895.
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