In lieu of the many problems facing public schools today, parents have a right to be concerned about the quality of their children’s education. A good education is a must in establishing a successful career. Cyber schools offer a viable alternative to educate children and teens that don’t do well in a public school setting. By researching this option for their children, parents can get a better idea of what virtual education has to offer.
What is Cyber School?
Cyber schools, also known as “virtual schools”, are institutions that offer children and teens an academic education online. Most, if not all, the courses are taught on the Internet and can be completed from home or other location with Internet access. Overall, cyber schools teach the same subjects as their local public school counterpart in their K-12th grade program. This gives students a balanced education that enables them to graduate high school with a valid diploma.
Younger children will need supervision with their studies while pre-teens and teens may be able to do much of the work on their own. Parents should, of course, be close by where they can monitor how their children are doing or at least be checking their progress often. In this way, they can keep a pulse on the quality of their academic studies.
Why Cyber School?
Parents choose cyber schooling for many reasons. Some parents are concerned about the poor quality of education in public schools, as is evidenced by many students failing academic testing in key subjects. Others are concerned about their children’s welfare. Urban schools, in particular, face many issues with bullying, alcohol and drug abuse, overcrowded classrooms, etc., all of which lowers the quality of education.
Children who learn at a slower rate may not get the time or attention they need to keep up with their studies. Those who are gifted and learn faster may be bored with slow moving, unchallenging classes. Parents who travel often with their children may need a more flexible arrangement for their academic studies. Changing schools often can cause kids to miss out on educational training and lose their rhythm of study. Cyber education offers a solution to these situations.
Pros and Cons of Cyber School
Many universities and vocational institutions offer online education for their adult students. Cyber schools extend these same benefits to the elementary and high school level. Because the quality of education varies from school to school, parents should use care in selecting a school and academic program. Parents should look for a school that is accredited by an educational board in their state and has certified, licensed educators teaching their classes. The following gives greater insight into the pros and cons of cyber educational programs:
Personalized Learning – Online education lets students customize their program of study to meet their need. Slow learners can go at a slower pace to learn the subject matter. Fast learners can whip through easy subjects and go slower in courses that present more of a challenge. By enrolling in a cyber high school program, students can work at their own pace to learn difficult subjects. Cyber high schools also offer a variety of options for elective courses to broaden their education.
Quality Education – Many public high schools are failing in meeting their students’ proficiency requirements, especially in larger urban areas. As a result, there has been an alarming increase in high school dropouts. By attending a cyber high school, students can study in a safe and effective environment and avoid many of the distractions that can interfere with their academic studies. Such distractions could include bullying, disciplinary problems in the classroom, overcrowded conditions and ineffective study environment.
Virtual schools give parents and students greater control over the quality of the student’s education. Attentive students who work hard to learn their subjects will obtain a high quality education. On the flip side, those who neglect their studies will see poor results in their studies. In the virtual classroom, students determine the final outcome of their educational standard.
Flexibility – In a virtual classroom setting, schedules can be flexible. Because students can access their courses when they want, they can set up a schedule that’s most conducive to their learning. Parents should help their children and teens create a good schedule that will enable them to make academic progress. At the same time, students have flexibility to alter their schedule when needed to make room for special occasions, holiday travels, doctor appointments or other activities.
Greater flexibility can also extend to school curriculum, allowing students to interject topics of interest, field trips, excursions or other educational experiences into their studies. A highly motivated student may complete his academic requirements at a faster pace, giving him more free time to enjoy extra-curricular activities or explore other interests that can enrich his education. This opens up whole new possibilities for students to benefit from.
Safe Environment – One of the greatest benefits of a cyber school is being able to study within a safe, controlled environment. Most students conduct school at home although libraries offer an alternative option. Students can also take their schooling with them when they travel to visit relatives. In this way, virtual schools eliminate the negative influences of drugs, gossip and violence that are so prevalent in public school settings. Fewer distractions make it easier for students to make academic progress.
Lack of Socialization – As a parent, you may be worried that studying online gives your children or teens less opportunities to make friends and socialize. If this is the case, parents should consider what kind of social environment most public schools have to offer. Rather than making friends and having positive social experiences in school, many children have suffered from bullying or mixed with the wrong crowd, creating more problems than good.
Rather than subject their child to negative socialization, parents can encourage them to participate in structured after school activities and programs such as joining a sports club, taking dancing or music lessons, joining the Boys Scouts or Girls Scouts or attending summer camp to meet other kids their age. Some cyber schools offer organized field trips and excursions to places of interest in their community, giving parents and cyber kids an opportunity to meet one another.
Need for Greater Parental Supervision – Most kids require greater supervision under cyber learning to ensure they make academic progress. At least one parent should be overseeing their child or teen’s education and be communicating with teachers and staff regularly concerning their progress. Younger students and those unaccustomed to working on their own may need motivation and discipline in the beginning to keep up with their studies. Parents will need to see how to incorporate this extra responsibility in their busy schedule.
Risk of Cyberbullying – The more time a child or teen spends online, the greater the risk of being a victim of cyberbullying, especially if there is a lack of supervision during their studies. Parents will need to educate their kids on how to use the Internet safely and make time to supervise their activities.
Poor Standard – Some cyber schools offer a low educational standard. To avoid problems, parents should ensure the school they choose is accredited and offers an approved curriculum for their area.
Popular Cyber Schools in Pennsylvania
Achievement House Cyber Charter School (AHCCS) and Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School are two examples of virtual schools that have received accreditation and approval for their academic curricula. Both schools are open to the public, provide a K-12th grade education and offer:
- Long term experience in virtual schooling
- Personalized instruction and training by certified teachers
- Variety of state approved courses and electives for a balanced education
- Qualified staff and support network
- Good success rate for high school graduation
These are some of the most important aspects to look for in a cyber school to ensure your child is getting a quality education.
Good cyber schools will do their part to challenge your son or daughter academically so they graduate from high school with honors. Teachers will test their students on a regular basis to ensure they have a clear understanding of their course material and are making progress in their curriculum. A charter cyber school will require that students pass standardized exams for their state to verify their educational standard.
By looking for a cyber school with these qualities, parents can have greater confidence in the quality of education their children will receive.