Online education can either supplement your child's current education or replace their physical school completely. Online education allows your child to have the safety and flexibility of a homeschool environment while accessing quality materials and experienced educators. With unexpected school closures interrupting physical schooling last year, many parents have decided to embrace online education to make sure their children are ready for similar emergencies in the future.
However, before you choose an online curriculum for your child, it is important to understand the options available to you.
Public or Private
There are both publically funded, free online schools and private, paid schools. Similar to physical schools, public options have a more strictly regulated curriculum. Some public online schools charge a technology fee, so it may not be completely free. Private options may not need to meet all of your state and national education standards, which often allows for greater curriculum flexibility. However, private online schools may have limited places, enrollment examinations or interviews, and paid tuition.
It is important to make sure the school your child attends is accredited in the state where you live since each state has different accreditation standards. Even if you plan to enroll your child in a national or international program, it is important their efforts will be recognized in your state.
Online education doesn't have to be a solo activity. Many middle school programs offer varying class sizes, real-time and asynchronous classes, and small group projects that can allow your child to get to know other people their age and learn to work together. Many local or state online programs offer field trips or in-person social activities for their students.
Activity and Screen-Time Balance
As children get older, they can sit in front of a computer or tablet for longer periods of time, but middle school children still need breaks away from the screen and engagement in hands-on activities. You may want an online curriculum that uses physical textbooks to care for your child's vision health and a curriculum that mixes individual, project-based learning with online classes so your child remains stimulated and engaged.
There are many options for online education, and it is important you find one that works for you and your child. You may need to sit down together to discuss your expectations and explore your options before you settle on a final option. If you have specific questions about any school's online middle school curriculum, you should contact the school to ask further questions.