Friday, March 14, 2014

Is Cyber School Appropriate for Your Child?

Cyber schools were approved back in 2001. Since then these virtual schools have become popular alternatives to a regular classroom setting. If you think online schooling may be an option for one of your children, read on for the facts about cyber classrooms.

What is cyber school?


Cyber school, also known as virtual school, is an institution that teaches classes through online means utilizing technology. Students can attend grades Kindergarten through 12; college degrees are available through virtual schools, too.


What’s the difference between an online school and a charter school?


A charter school is a public, nonsectarian school that operates under the sponsoring local school board in a regular school setting. In some cases, a charter school is established to meet specific needs of students, such as the arts or preparation for careers in the medical field.

Are cyber schools publicly funded?


Typically, yes.

What are the benefits of virtual school?


Personal attention.
Education tailored to a student’s specific needs.
More extensive course offerings.
Flexible schedules to accommodate those with health challenges or who participate in demanding extracurricular programs.
Eliminates unresolved harassment and bullying issues.

Is online schooling successful?


That’s debatable. In some cases, students are thriving. Yet, others are falling behind students in regular classroom settings. A number of variables enter the equation, including parental involvement and a student’s motivation. According to this site, “cyber schools are held to higher performance standards,” an aspect of the performance assessment that needs to be considered.  For instance, with cyber schools, demographic groups are assessed, not just age groups, as with typical public schools.

What you should know before sending your child to school online:


Is equipment provided? Most online schools provide a computer, printer, and modem for Internet connection. You should know upfront if you’ll need to absorb the cost for equipment.
How are students performing? Are they measuring up to those in a classroom setting? You should review and be comfortable with the performance of students in the cyber school you’re considering over the past few years.
Talk to instructors and parents. It’s important to get a feel for the instructors, and evaluate if other parents are satisfied with the school.

What are the drawbacks of online schooling?


Cheating. It can be an issue, so parents should be aware.
Lack of interaction with other students. While online students can participate in extracurricular activities, many educators and parents question if they’re missing out on valuable time with other students working together as a team on a project, hearing questions others pose in class, and the day-to-day interaction with others.
Possible lack of routine. A classroom setting does provide students with valuable routine each day. Unless students possess internal motivation for routine, they might be missing out on such an elementary lesson.

When is virtual school most successful?


In rural areas.  In areas where students may not be offered appropriate classes, online schooling can be a great alternative.
When parents monitor and get involved.
For highly motivated students.
For students already homeschooled. Cyber school can be a great alternative for those already accustomed to academia outside the classroom.

As with any other decision that can greatly impact your family members, carefully research and investigate any cyber school you might be considering. For more information on virtual school, visit www.pacharters.org or www.greatschools.org.

Kathy Rembisz
Contributing Writer

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