This article was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated for clarity and accuracy.
More and more, virtual school is becoming a reality for students and parents. But if you don't know what online learning looks like, signing your child up to learn online can be a scary proposition.
We’re here to give you a taste of the virtual school day, provide peace of mind, and help you understand what your student will experience during their online learning journey. In this article, we nail down what virtual school looks like and what your child can expect when learning online.
What Is Virtual School?
Chances are, you’ve heard about or experienced some form of virtual school. After all, recent surveys found that 79 percent of elementary students now have some experience with online learning.
Virtual school is another name for online education or distance learning. It simply means your student is learning in a virtual environment, rather than in a physical, brick-and-mortar classroom. Virtual school is similar to homeschooling in that students can learn from the comfort of home. But unlike homeschooling, in a virtual school, teachers are doing the instruction while parents provide support.
How Does Virtual School Differ From Traditional School?
The school day for students in a virtual school can be drastically different from traditional learning environments. Because your student isn’t tied to a strict bell schedule, online learning gives you the flexibility to choose the routine that best fits your child’s learning preferences, productivity patterns, and schedule. Here are some differences you’ll notice if your child moves from traditional school to virtual school:
Less Hectic Routines
Gone are the days of waking up at 6:30 a.m., scarfing down breakfast, and racing to catch the bus. Instead, virtual school lets your student learn when they’re most productive. Because there isn’t a stiff bell schedule and a faraway classroom, students can spend less time preparing for the day and more time learning. It also helps them avoid dangerous sleep routines that can result from those early start times traditional schools are notorious for.
More Time for Extracurriculars
Because students can learn from anywhere, virtual school carves out more time for a student athlete’s games or a performing artist’s events. Rather than hurrying between physical schools and road trips, practice, or performances, students can learn where they choose. This flexibility lifts pressure off of active students and their parents.
More Personal Learning
In traditional schools, classrooms are often overcrowded, and learning trudges along at a pace that accommodates the majority of students. However, virtual school can include advanced learning tools, such as self-paced coursework, that lets students learn at their own speed. This also frees up teachers to deliver more personalized learning.
What Does Virtual School Look Like for Parents?
For both parents and students, virtual school can be a far cry from the typical routines of a traditional school. Here are some advantages many parents notice right away when they enroll their child in virtual school:
Say goodbye to rushing in the morning, prepping for long commutes, and speeding across town to transport children between school and extracurriculars. Virtual school gives parents more time to breathe. Because the day doesn’t revolve around a strict bell schedule, it’s easier to create a schedule that fits your routine.
A More Relaxed School Day
In the traditional school setting, children attend school all day, have to commute home, and often spend hours doing homework. Because learning is more focused in an online setting, students can work at their own pace. That makes for a less hectic, happier school day.
Deeper Relationships And Learning
Because students have the chance to learn within your home, you have more time to enjoy your kids and build bonds.
What Does Virtual School Look Like for Students?
Because it’s flexible, a typical day in virtual school can look completely different for different students. In many cases, students will craft their online learning schedule around practices, social events, sports, or other routines. As an example, here’s what a virtual school day might look like for a student:
- 9 a.m.: Meet with an instructor to go over math.
- 10 a.m.: Meet with their homeroom instructor to check in on progress, set goals, and discuss learning needs.
- 11 a.m.-2 p.m.: Complete assigned work, check their pacing guide to make sure they’re on track, and wrap up around 2 p.m.
- After 2 p.m.: The sky's the limit. They can dive into even deeper learning experiences or focus on those interests they love.
Beyond completing typical coursework, your student can also take advantage of all kinds of opportunities to sharpen their skills. That includes field trips to places like science centers, natural history museums, or space centers. Students who aren’t tied to the traditional school day schedule have more freedom to attend history reenactments and other hands-on events. They might also compete in a robotics league, ride in a mountain bike club, attend educational exhibits, dig into their learning tile activity, or pursue any number of other passions.
Do Kids Grow Socially in a Virtual School Setting?
One of the biggest concerns parents have when signing their children up for virtual school is socialization. And it’s a valid concern. Not all online schools are set up to deliver the social development opportunities your child needs to succeed.
However, there are virtual schools that go above and beyond to drive social development in an online setting. Here are some socialization programs the best virtual schools will offer:
- Organized meetups
- Field trips
- Exploration programs
- Service events
- Extracurricular activities
- Learning tiles
Plus, because online learning cuts out the inefficiencies of in-person classes, students often end up spending more time developing social skills than they would in traditional school.
Learn More About Virtual School Learning
Despite the many advantages of virtual learning, not all online schools will deliver the same results. At Method Schools, we’re dedicated to targeted learning, small classes, interactive learning methods, and other factors that drive better learning outcomes.
Have questions about virtual learning or what learning with Method Schools looks like? Contact one of our distance learning experts today.