Online Schooling

Today, more than 60 million kids are in home school or online programs in the U.S. and the numbers continue to grow by 20 percent every year. Homeschooling generally begins at age 6, when children are expected to start getting a formal education.

As technologies continue to develop, online schooling is becoming more popular. Now, parents don't need to be completely in charge of their children's education, but they can rely on a tutor or teacher and assist them in the process.

Learn more about online schooling below.

Is homeschooling legal?

It depends on the country. Here in the U.S., as well as in several European countries including the U.K. and most of the Commonwealth countries, homeschooling is legal.

Today, several universities are accepting applicants with this type of educational background.

Despite being illegal or highly regulated in some regions, this schooling method has very real benefits both for children and their families. In fact, in the U.S., standardized test results show that a majority of homeschoolers score above the national average. 

Whether it's due to religious beliefs, educational philosophies or dissatisfaction with the country's education system, parents are choosing to provide a different kind of education to their kids.  

Benefits of Online Schooling

Unlike the U.S. public education system that s saturated, the number of students per teacher is high and it's difficult to make sure every child gets the attention and help they need to learn, traditional homeschooling and online schooling provide children with the tools they need to flourish, as well as the necessary attention and assistance.

Some of the benefits of online schooling are:
  • Personal attention in any subject kids may be struggling with
  • Power over what the child is learning and closer contact between teacher and parent
  • More efficient teaching, targeting the child's difficulties and nurturing his o her natural talents
  • Teaching methods can be adjusted to what works best for the child
  • Flexible schedules

Online Public Schools

Elementary online schools are a great tool for children transitioning into homeschooling, as well as for parents who wish to have a better understanding and control over what their child learns and is exposed to. They are also a great supplementary resource to help children strengthen their reading, math and writing lessons.

When parents are in the entertainment business or in the military, moving constantly or having schedules that are just too flexible can often have a negative impact on the child's upbringing and schooling. This type of schooling may just be the perfect way to establish a routine for the children while also providing the parents with more flexibility.

Online public schools are also great for children who suffer severe illnesses and cannot attend a school or for children with disabilities, that cannot move around easily and have trouble attending in-person classes. Children living in rural areas may also benefit from this type of schooling, instead of having to travel several miles to get an education.

There are four different types of online schooling:
  1. Blended learning: combines in-person classes with as few online supplementary lessons. While the teacher is typically in a physical classroom, students may attend in person or online. You can find blended schools all over the country.
  2. Hybrid courses: these are mostly online classes with a few in-person lessons. It's conducted mostly online and instructors may change.
  3. Supplemental learning: they help strengthen a child's skills in specific learning areas by providing additional online and in-person support lessons.
  4. Online courses: a full-online option, where classes are taught remotely. These are generally called virtual academies
In the public education system, you can also find other types of schooling such as:
  • Destination career academies: schools dedicated to providing career-ready and college-ready education.
  • District-run programs: full-time public schools that offer students at home options with the standard curriculum.
  • Insight schools: institutions specialized in helping students struggling to learn and overcome obstacles during their schooling years. They offer more support in the form of counselors and more experienced teachers.

Public or private online school?

The main differences between private and public schools are much the same as traditional private vs public education. Private schools often charge tuition costs, have access to more and better resources, academic benchmarks are different and so is the prestige they provide.

Yet today most of the country's online students choose public schools (50.1 million), yet in both cases schools have state-certified teachers who provide individualized learning plans and a high-quality curriculum, and one-on-one support by the staff. Both types also have extracurricular activities. 

Public Charter Schools

You can also come across public charter schools, which are mostly state-funded but have an independent administration and provide different teaching methods and approaches with flexible schedules.

The main problem with these schools is accreditation since many of them don't always need to be accredited to operate. If you opt for these types of schools, make sure you do your research before signing your child into a program.

How to Find the Best Online Schools in Your State

Before even starting to look for the best online school for your child, it's important to first understand the differences between one another and have clear what it is you are looking for and what you expect your child to learn. 

Once you have figured that out, you can start researching. There are several ways to find the best online schools in your district, city or state. A good place to start is the U.S. Department of Education website, in the state contact page. There you can check the map and find all the schools in your area.

If you are thinking of sending your children to public school, you can take advantage of the K-12 School Finder to screen your area first and find the nearest schools to start reviewing and researching or asking for referrals among neighbors, family and friends.

For starters, you can check the rankings. Niche publishes a yearly Best Schools ranking which is based on official statistics by the U.S. Department of Education as well as reviews from students and parents.

In terms of accreditation, you should check with either AdvancED or with the regional accreditation agencies in the country to check whether the schools you are interested in have the proper credentials and certifications.

Regional accreditation agencies: