As education continues to evolve, many parents are turning to online schools as an alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar schools. While online schools provide the convenience and flexibility that many families need, choosing the right online school for your child can be a daunting task. With so many options available, it's important to consider several factors to ensure that you are choosing the best online school for your child's needs. In this blog post, we'll explore some things that parents should look for when selecting an online school. Here are some things to look for:
It is important to choose an online school that is accredited to ensure that your child receives a high-quality education that meets state and national standards. In California, the accreditation organization is Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Think of accreditation as that bold A in the window of your favorite restaurant. The restaurant has to meet and maintain certain quality standards in order to keep the A in the window. Schools, and accreditation, are the same.
Look for an online school that offers a curriculum that meets your child's learning needs and fits your family's values. Consider the type of courses offered, the teaching methods used, and the level of flexibility. Online curriculum is getting better and better. In many cases, with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). At Method, our students use SmartFox. We built in in house - customized for our own Method students. It's mobile-friendly, fast, clear, and offers lots of touchpoints to connect with teachers and other students.
Teacher qualifications and support
Make sure that the online school has highly qualified teachers who are trained to teach in an online environment. Also, check what kind of teacher support is available to students and how frequently they will have access to it. Much like accreditation, teachers are required to regularly refresh and update their schools. Perhaps most importantly, however, is ensuring the schools that land on your "short list" employ teachers who are experts at online learning and non-classroom based education. It's a completely different style of teaching - and learning - and your student will do best with teachers who fully get the ins and outs of online education. During the pandemic this became very clear, as teachers and students were required to teach and learn remotely. Traditional teachers, and their students, struggled. However, experienced non-classroom based charter school students thrived, mainly because the systems were already in place to allow for success.
Technology and resources
Ensure that the online school has the necessary technology and resources to support online learning. Consider factors such as the availability of technical support and access to learning resources. Good schools will have laptops available for all online students. Help can also come in the way of free or reduced internet connectivity. Make sure to ask the enrollment specialist about technology requirements and allowances before enrolling your student.
Check whether the online school offers opportunities for your child to interact with peers and teachers. Social interaction is important for a child's emotional and social development. Regular and relevant offline experiences compliment online learning, providing a rounded out, comprehensive learning experience. Field trips, events, student government, volunteering, athletics, clubs...make sure your student will have access to a full array of these critical extracurricular options before enrolling. The best online schools will offer lots and lots of these types of offline options for their students.
By considering these factors, parents can find an online school that provides their child with a high-quality education that meets their individual needs. Before enrolling, ask questions! Good online schools will want to make sure they're the right option for your child before completing the enrollment process.