Interested in Online Learning?
Many parents and educators are also seeking alternatives to traditional classroom-based education that can help improve academic achievement. Demand for these alternatives is evident in the growing number of choices available to parents and students. For example, charter schools emerged in 1988 to provide an alternative to traditional schools. Online schools represent one approach to online learning that is gaining acceptance. According to the Center for Education Reform, as of January 2007 there were 173 virtual schools with total enrollment exceeding 92,000 students, operating in 18 states compared to just 86 online schools in 13 states with total enrollment of approximately 31,000 students in the 2004-2005 school year. Online schools offer a comprehensive curriculum and flexible delivery model.
The Parent’s Role
The parent or other responsible adult role varies from K-8 to high school. In K-8, you as the parent (or other responsible adult), working in conjunction with the teacher, serve as a "learning coach" to your student, helping facilitate progress through the daily lessons and working to modify the pace and schedule according to your child's needs. The teacher communicates with you via e-mail, telephone, online Web meetings, or even face to face, in many cases. A suggested lesson plan is provided to you each week, which updates automatically as your child progresses. You can vary the lesson plan to accommodate your child's pace or abilities: for instance, some kids do better when they can concentrate their Math studies for longer hours per day but fewer days per week. Other parents use their children's favorite subject as a reward to give the child a break periodically from tougher subjects. In high school, students are expected to be more accountable for their daily progress and time management. They have one subject-specific teacher for each subject. These teachers are responsible for reviewing all student work and providing instructional feedback. Teachers work together on a teaching team and employ a cooperative team-teaching approach. The student is expected to move at a more consistent pace with her or his "class," in each subject, though there is room for flexibility. The parent still plays an important supportive role to help the student stay on task and help ensure the student is following through on his or her assignments—but the student is expected to start managing his or her own time and scheduling more directly.