Online vs. Traditional High School – Which is Best for My Child?
Written by Ellen R.
If you are a parent, you probably grew up going to traditional school. You probably remember getting up early to catch the bus to your local school, sitting in classrooms with the desks lined up in neat rows, and listening to the teacher as she wrote notes on the board. There were late bells, and dress codes, and every student was expected to learn the material and take a test at the end of the chapter. Surprisingly, traditional school has not changed much since you were a kid.
But, is it right for your child?
Many parents are asking this question, and looking for educational options.
Would your child benefit from
- an individualized learning plan
- a flexible day-to-day school schedule
- access to school any time of day
- the ability to “go to school” from anywhere there is access to the Internet
- more time for sports, art, a part-time job, travel, hobbies, volunteering in your community, family time
- no teen social drama
Then online school might be the right choice for your child. When my daughter entered the 9th grade, she began to feel uncomfortable at her traditional school. The social drama made her anxious, sullen and moody. I began hearing, “I have a headache” or “I have a stomachache” as excuses for why she couldn’t go to school. Then I found Whitmore School, the world’s first online high school. I knew going to school from home would reduce the stress and peer pressure she was feeling.
Traditional high schools have set daily schedules regulated by a series of bells. Online schools allow you to decide the best time for learning. So, if your child is not a morning person, it might not be the best idea to work on math at 7:53 am. You will have the flexibility to try out and modify a school schedule when your child is the most focused. Perhaps math will best be done at 10:00 am. The good news is that in online school, you decide.
Does your family travel? Online school can go with you! Yes, school work can be completed anytime of day from the car, hotel, boat, hammock… you get the idea. As long as you have Internet access, school is open.
Individualized Learning Plan
Typically, traditional high schools schedule students for courses according to the student’s grade level. Teachers are required to cover course material at a pace determined by the school district. Unfortunately, this can result in a group of students who are unchallenged and become bored, and a group of students who feel pushed ahead before they are ready to learn new concepts. With a class of 24 – 30 students, there is little room for individualized instruction.
In many online schools, personalized learning starts with a personal graduation plan developed with you and your child’s guidance counselor. At Whitmore School, the world’s first online high school, students begin with an online orientation designed to help students transition to the online learning environment. Students enrolled in the Diploma PLUS Program communicate one-to-one with their guidance counselor virtually and by phone. They can discuss strategies for organization and staying motivated. Guidance counselors also teach College Readiness and Career Readiness courses to help your child prepare for life post-graduation.
Emotionally and Physically Safe Learning Environment
Many parents are concerned about bullying and peer pressure. I know I was. In online school, you can ensure that your child has a learning environment where they feel safe – your own home. An added benefit is that your child won’t be distracted by teen drama, and will be able to focus on his or her courses. Most students find that online school takes less time than traditional school. Consequently, there is less wasted time getting to and from school, walking between classes and going to lunch. Yeah! As a result, your child has more time for family activities, sports, clubs, performing arts, volunteering. And, you have more say in your child’s social life.
It took a few months to see my teen smile again, but once she transitioned to online learning, she thrived. We are glad we made the leap. Click here if you would like to learn why students and parents love Whitmore School.
Written by: Ellen Ray, Principal and parent of Alina, 2009 Whitmore School graduate