Everything You Need to Know



Is online schooling the answer for your family? If you’re considering this option, educate yourself about online schooling before educating your child with online schooling.

You may be looking for a solution that will provide a comprehensive education that also gives your child the flexibility to learn at home.

You may be looking for a solution that will allow your child to learn independently and effectively—and if possible— from a high quality, accredited, free program that will provide a smooth transition to school, college, or work.

Online schooling: Everything you need to know.

Sometimes online education is a solution or part of the solution. And sometimes, parents discover virtual programs do not work the way they expected—or their child doesn’t thrive when learning online.

And surprise: accreditation may have no benefit at all!Online schooling opportunities have grown exponentially in the last few years, but the options are still getting sorted out.

Jump to:

First Rule of Online Schooling

You first need to understand that the online schooling options typically don’t work the same way for public school kids, private school kids, and homeschooled kids.

Rule 1: Get clear whether—in your state—you will be using online schooling as part of public school, private school, or homeschooling.

Yes, it matters.

How the options work for you and your child will vary depending on your state and locality, even though the specific online schooling programs you are considering may be available to public, private, and homeschooled students in every single U.S. state and beyond.

That’s because homeschooling laws and compulsory school attendance laws vary in every state. Check our listings to find the local and state homeschool groups near you—your state homeschool organization can help you understand homeschooling and online schooling in your state.

Online schooling administrators or their marketers may (intentionally or not) conflate requirements of charter schools in one state with requirements for homeschoolers in another state—and be completely wrong.

Public school administrators or school board members may tout their online programs as homeschooling—and be completely wrong.

Parents may give each other incorrect information on social media, not realizing that laws in another state affect how online schooling may be paid for or administrated for families in other places. They, too, may be completely wrong.

You need to understand the tricky landscape of online schooling in order to:

  • Avoid truancy charges
  • Smooth your child’s future path if you plan for them to re-enter face-to-face school (especially if they might attend public school later and need to transfer homeschool credits to public high school)
  • Use a program for which you may be eligible for reimbursement
  • Avoid paying for expensive aspects of online schooling such as accreditation that will have no benefit for you or your child because of where you live and your approach to education

We’ll cover details of the landscape of online public schooling, online private schooling, and online homeschooling later in this article, but first let’s take a look at why parents consider online schooling.

Second Rule of Online Schooling

Rule 2: Know your learn-at-home choices.

Online schooling is not the only option in the “learn at home” menu. For homeschoolers, online schools have long been seen as one homeschooling style or approach among many possible approaches.

Homeschoolers frequently combine an online class or two with some other approaches to helping their kids learn at home.

If all-in-one online schooling through a virtual public or private online school isn’t the best choice for your family, you can learn everything you need to know to get started with homeschooling right here at TheHomeSchoolMom, so you can have more flexibility as a homeschooler.

But let’s move on to why families do consider online schooling, whether part-time or full-time.

Reasons for Choosing Online Schooling

Online schooling options have multiplied, but is it a good choice for your child? Will it resolve challenges for your family? You might be interested in online schooling options because of:

  • Academic fit. You feel your child is “ahead” or “behind” in school, and online options may allow them to work at their level.
  • Outsourced expertise. Your child needs or wants to learn subjects you can’t or don’t wish to teach as a homeschool parent or that aren’t offered in their public or private school.
  • Bullying. Your child needs to get out of a negative or dangerous situation at school the school is not addressing.
  • School refusal. Your child is unable to attend school and needs homeschooling for school anxiety / school refusal.
  • Low expectations. Your child’s school or teacher does not have high enough expectations for the students.
  • School with few resources. Your child’s school has a building in poor condition with few learning resources available.
  • Negative peer pressure. The kids at your local school are running amok, and you see the possibility or reality of your child picking up bad behavior.
  • Illness or immunity challenges. Your child’s health is at risk when attending in-person classes.
  • Dedication to a sport or extracurricular. Hours of rehearsal in theater, practice in gymnastics or devotion to another passion may mean your child needs a more time-efficient approach to education.
  • Distance. The bus ride or car ride to your child’s in-person school is too long.
  • Home-based and/or community-based lifestyle. You want to spend more time with your child at home and have them socialize more “in the world” with all kinds of people rather than same-age classmates.
  • Technological fit. Some kids love using technology to learn.
  • Efficiency. Some online schooling is delivered in a straight forward way without long waits in line for the washroom or long waits for other students to finish work or do extra projects, so your child will have more down-time.
  • Independence. Some types of online schooling allow some students to work at their own pace, select what to work on, and not have an adult managing every second of their learning.
  • Special needs. Your child’s school is not meeting IEP requirements or providing suitable accommodations, and you hope online schooling will be better. (See our article on Pushouts: When the School Says to Homeschool).
  • NCAA eligibility. Some homeschoolers can use some specially NCAA-approved online courses to meet high school requirements that contribute to their eligibility to play D1 college sports. Keep in mind that “accreditation” does not equate with “NCAA-approved.” For more information, see the NCAA’s homeschool information.
  • Travel. Your family situation requires or allows for significant travel your child can benefit from if not tied to a brick and mortar school.
  • Custody. You disagree with your child’s other parent about choosing public school or homeschooling, and schooling online seems like “middle ground.” Or, you agree to it because it can be completed while the child is with either parent.
  • Virtual camaraderie. Your child is homeschooled in a more isolated area—or you have a family situation that makes in-person experiences hard to arrange—and your kiddo wants to be in online classes or programs with other kids.
  • Enrichment. Your child can benefit from engaging apps, carefully developed online programs, and/or uniquely prepared online teachers who will provide effective, inspirational and memorable learning experiences.
  • Employment. You’ll be working and need to make sure all the bases are covered for your child’s education and that lessons are delivered in a convenient way. Child care providers can provide online schooling support.
  • Not into “curriculum planning.” You do want to homeschool but don’t want to or don’t feel adequate to plan your child’s day-to-day academics.

Keep in mind that independent homeschooling—without full-time online schooling provided by a public or private school—also solves many of these challenges and with more flexibility.

Challenges with Online Schooling

There are lots of good reasons for considering an online school, but they are not all created equal.

Among other factors, parents’ and kids’ satisfaction will depend on:

  • your understanding of the choices you have within the enormous arena of online schooling
  • how well your child and your situation “match up” with the type of online schooling you choose
  • the integrity of the provider
  • the quality of the program
  • the education laws where you live
  • whether your child is a good student (research shows, on average, struggling students do worse with online schooling)

A few examples of these challenges:

  • Long seat times. A child who does best spending hours of time being physically active may not do well sitting at a computer for hours. Virtual schooling is also not always the best choice for homeschooling children who have ADHD.
  • Adult still needed. A lot. A child who is not able to independently read and complete work by themselves at an online website may not do well in online schooling that doesn’t involve direct and even constant supervision by an inspiring adult.
  • Low quality content. Some online curricula may have gaps in content and even content that is incorrect. Students may encounter links that don’t work because content is not regularly reviewed and updated.
  • Different values. Some content may not be aligned with common education expectations, standards, or parents’ values.
  • Huge variability in delivery methods. One kind of online schooling may not work for a child, but another kind might be really effective and enjoyable. A child who might do well with a five-week online class with an enthusiastic live teacher might not do well with a semester- or year-long web-based reading-and-multiple-choice type curriculum. Or vice versa. Type of online schooling matters.
  • Incorrect information and promotion. If you are homeschooling, some online schooling providers may not be experts on the legalities of how you are using their program as a homeschooler. They may not know how homeschooling is regulated where you live. They may even provide incorrect information about the legalities, what’s needed for graduation or college prep, the value of accreditation and more.
  • Poor delivery. Some online options have simply replicated ineffective ways to present material to learners on a screen and provided cursory quizzes and tests, so students can “check off” having “moved through” the material without having genuinely acquired new knowledge or skills.
  • All-in-one grade levels. Online programs attempting to present all subjects at one level may not have flexibility for self-pacing or for the child who loves and excels in one subject but is “behind” in another. Children who have special needs may not get their needs met.
  • Work-load stress. Using a public virtual school may not alleviate the work-load stress a child or teen had when enrolled in school. Common complaints include much longer days than independent homeschooling, since some of these options are set up to mimic the time spent in a classroom.
  • Inadequate devices or internet. Not all families live where there is adequate internet bandwidth, or they don’t have computers and tablets that will work well with all forms of online schooling. Without reliable access, you’ll be dissatisfied and frustrated.

Types of Online Schooling

Here are some of the types of online classes and curriculum you may find:

  • Classes with a live teacher via video service such as Zoom
  • Classes with recorded teacher videos
  • Classes with live teachers who teach and respond in writing (emails, message boards, or specially designed virtual classrooms) rather than through Zoom-style classes
  • Curriculum with reading, problems, quizzes, and tests (similar to putting the contents of a textbook on a screen with automated quizzing)
  • Curriculum downloads—printable or viewable on a device—that parents use to teach
  • Classes that feature virtual collaboration or social time among students
  • MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses are free online courses available to anyone)
  • Apps (common for single subjects and memory topics, such as learning a second language and memorizing the U.S. state locations)
  • One-to-one tutoring
  • Web-based online platforms with student and parent log-ins. May include any of the above and/or:
    • Interactive games
    • Lesson videos
    • Online and written assignments
    • Links to external resources
    • Recorded slide shows
    • Book recommendations
    • Flash cards and study questions
    • Project and field trip ideas
    • Record-keeping and high school transcripts

When you’re evaluating what online option to choose, consider whether you want

  • An option oriented to public, private, or homeschool education
  • Full-time and “all-in-one” or a la carte classes
  • Core curriculum & classes or supplemental enrichment classes and experiences
  • Online curriculum or teacher-led classes
  • Self-paced or externally-paced
  • Religious or secular
  • Synchronous or asynchronous classes
  • Accredited or unaccredited

Accreditation and Online Schooling

Let’s examine the “accredited or unaccredited” question a little further. A few simple facts to know:

  • Colleges and universities regularly admit homeschool graduates and do not care whether they used accredited online schools or curriculum generated by such schools. Accreditation does not enhance homeschoolers’ applications to college.
  • Accreditation can be a factor in whether online schooling can be paid for out of taxpayer funds and provided for free to students in the states that offer tuition free online schooling or charter schools for students learning at home. Therefore, online schools seek accreditation to make themselves eligible for state funding. Marketers of online schools may conflate “accreditation” with quality in order to attract customers from all states, even where public funding isn’t in play. After all, the online school has already gone to the trouble and expense to get accredited—they might as well sell it as an advantage!
  • There are many high quality unaccredited online schools, programs and experiences that homeschoolers have used for years that are effective—and they will never seek accreditation because their model doesn’t fit a school model.
  • Parents often mistakenly believe that accreditation will allow students to seamlessly transfer high school credits from online schooling to their local brick and mortar high school.
    • Unless the student has enrolled in a virtual public school (not the same as homeschooling!) or possibly a charter school in the same state that uses the same accrediting agency, accreditation is no indication that online schooling credits will transfer in to a public high school. (Your state may be the exception. Know your state laws!)
    • Homeschoolers who use accredited online schools will find that most often there is no automatic acceptance of high school credits if they later enroll in public school. Public high schools in most states do not have to accept credit for learning done at home, even if through an accredited school. Don’t waste your money. (Some state education departments do sometimes have a short list private school providers from whom they will guarantee acceptance of credits.)
  • Curriculum is never accredited.

So yes—you heard it right.

Accreditation doesn’t matter to colleges, won’t help most homeschooled students get credit for work done online if they enroll in their local high school, and is mainly to qualify online schooling programs for public funding in states.

The Online Homeschool, Public School, Private School Landscape

If you’re trying to sort out the landscape of online schooling, here’s an overview.

Remote learning through the local public school

Public schools offered a type of emergency online schooling often called remote learning during the last several years when public schools were temporarily closed in many communities. Brick and mortar schools’ classroom teachers reached their students online through Zoom, online portals, and online assignments.

They may have also distributed physical books and packets to their students. The intention was always that these students would return to their physical classroom in their school.

Free virtual public schools

Some public schools in some states also offer virtual schools as online schooling through their state board of education or through individual school divisions.

Virtual public schooling may be colloquially called “homeschooling,” but that misnomer sows confusion, since homeschooling in many states has a different set of legal requirements, and getting it wrong can actually set up truancy trouble for parents. “Public school at home” is less warm but more accurate.

The public virtual schools commonly provide one of several well-known curricula to families for free. Funding to provide the online schooling curriculum comes from tax monies allocated to the schools; therefore, most control continues to lie with the schools rather than with parents.

Students will be delivered a uniform public education experience in their home with the expectation that there will be a parent or other adult partner helping at home, and they will have to follow the school’s schedule, policies, assignments, class meeting times, attendance rules, and testing requirements.

Some states have limited access to online public school and have special requirements for enrollment.

Examples of free virtual public schools:

  • Stride K12 (formerly K12)
  • FLVS
  • Texas Virtual School Network
  • Connections Academy

Public charter schools

Some public schools in some states offer charter schools with a great deal of parent and student flexibility.

Parents may be able to control many aspects of learning including schedule and approach to learning. They can choose publicly funded online schooling to provide all or part of the learning for their child.

Public charters usually require parents to get approval for using school funding to purchase certain online schooling programs as well as other learning resources. Some states and some charters have stricter or looser requirements for things such as the credentials of online teachers or accreditation of the vendors (often with “School” or “Academy” in their name) who provide the online schooling to students in public charters.

Both virtual public schools (aka virtual schools) and public charter schools (aka online charters, cyber charters, charter homeschools) share some-to-many characteristics of homeschooling. After all, students are learning in their own homes!

Families may even consider themselves homeschoolers in some states or for some purposes. In some states that don’t define homeschooling, they may even be homeschoolers because of the way law and custom have evolved.

In other states, because they receive funding or free online resources, these families may find they cannot legally consider themselves homeschoolers because they won’t complete the correct paperwork and enroll in the education program they intend. They may also muddy the water for those who are legally homeschooling.

This can be confusing state-to-state because in some states, homeschool parents fill out different paperwork and need to comply with “homeschool laws” so they can legally keep their kids at home without being truant, and there is no option for them to receive any funding. (And by the way, while it sounds counter-intuitive, many homeschoolers prefer it that way. They don’t want strings that may be attached to public funding).

Examples of online public charter schools:

  • Primavera Online School
  • Agora Cyber Charter School
  • Compass Charter Schools

Private online schools

Many parents choose private online school (aka remote private school) for their kids. They pay tuition and receive no funding. Their kids learn at home, but the online school is in control of the educational experience and may establish rules, procedures, and processes. They provide grade reports, transcripts, and diplomas.

Private online schools, too, can look a lot like homeschooling (again: the kids are home!), and in some states, private online schooling may even be homeschooling.

In other states, definitely not. Take a look at how HEAV, one of Virginia’s state-wide homeschool organizations, carefully describes the difference between private online schools and homeschooling. That’s not meant to exclude anyone from calling themselves a homeschooler but to help parents get the correct paperwork submitted in Virginia.

Many people think of online private schools as a modern version of “correspondence schools,” where students used to mail in their assignments and correspond with their teacher through the postal mail.

Examples of private online schools:

  • Keystone
  • Acellus
  • NorthStar
  • Penn Foster

Online homeschooling

Homeschoolers almost always have access to the same online schooling options as families that use virtual public schools, public charter schools, and private online schools.

In many states, the difference is that homeschoolers have to pay out of pocket for any online schooling options they choose. They have flexibility on whether to use online schooling for all or part of their kids’ education, and (depending on other laws in their state) they have complete flexibility about scheduling, approach to learning, whether to use grades or assessments, and so on.

Homeschoolers who use online schooling do not have to consider a need for using or paying extra for an accredited online school or one that only uses certified teachers. Nonetheless, homeschoolers may hear a lot about accreditation because it’s part of the marketing plan for the online schools. For more information, see Online Schooling and Accreditation.

There are also many online schooling options for homeschoolers that aren’t accredited and don’t need to be.

Some homeschoolers decide to use complete online private schools for certain periods, like a parent’s illness or a child’s desire for more structure, or for high school record-keeping purposes. (Not that it’s needed for high school record-keeping purposes. Parent-created homeschool transcripts are widely accepted by colleges, universities, and employers).

Examples of online homeschooling providers:

Offering Multiple Subjects

  • Well Trained Mind Academy
  • SEA Online Classes
  • Outschool
  • Time4Learning
  • Thinkwell
  • Funcation
  • Power Homeschool


  • ScienceMom
  • Mystery Science


  • History Odyssey
  • Big History Project


  • ALEKS Math
  • DreamBox Math
  • Khan Academy

Language Arts

  • Night Zookeeper
  • Brave Writer
  • Rooted in Language

Second Language

  • Duolingo
  • Lukeion Latin
  • Rosetta Stone

What’s Confusing About All This

Let’s say we have an online institution called  XYZ Academy. XYZ Academy could be paid with taxpayer funds to provide its online program to public schools, who in turn provide it for free to students—who have to follow public school rules about online public schooling in their state, because they are public school students using an online option.

XYZ Academy also sells its program to homeschoolers and charter schoolers. Homeschoolers pay for it out of pocket, and thus can use the resource flexibly and on their own terms. Charter schoolers may get funding to pay for the program and may have varying degrees of flexibility depending on the rules of their charter school and the regulations in their state.

Point of confusion: In some states, people who receive education funding for learning at home are colloquially called homeschoolers or live in a state where homeschooling is not legally defined, so they really are homeschoolers there, even if they receive free curriculum provided by the state. This puts them at odds with homeschoolers in other states who must abide by strict distinctions between the two modes of education. Those distinctions keep parents from having legal problems. In those states, receiving free online schooling or funding for homeschooling means you are “not really homeschooling” and means you’re a public school student (using public funding) and not a homeschooler (since homeschoolers don’t receive public funding).

The marketing arms of online schooling companies stumble into a hornet’s nest when trying to have a national message that reaches homeschoolers across all state lines.

Both charter schoolers and homeschoolers may use XYZ Academy as an “all-in-one” online school. Homeschoolers could choose one or two XYZ Academy courses a la carte, and some charter schoolers could, too, depending on their charter school’s rules.

XYZ Academy may have one price for students who enroll in them as a private school and another price for those who only use the XYZ Academy online resources without enrolling in their private school. Which makes sense, because a private school keeps records, provides transcripts, and may use teachers that don’t come with the un-enrolled version of the program.

XYZ Academy has needed to seek accreditation of one form or another because some of its customers in some states (public schools or families) can get funding or free online schooling—but only if they use accredited programs.

Point of confusion: Homeschooling families who don’t need accreditation (especially those new to homeschooling) hear “accreditation” being touted and think it’s necessary or an indication of quality.

And actually, from a marketing point of view, appealing to parents who believe that accreditation conveys something important may result in more enrollment and curriculum sales, even if they don’t need it.

But, if they aren’t in a place where the law requires accreditation or funding inspires it, homeschoolers are just as well off with high quality unaccredited online schooling their child thrives on. And no, the two things are not mutually exclusive: there can indeed be high quality accredited online schooling and high quality non-accredited online schooling.

The point is, XYZ Academy could serve public schoolers, private schoolers and homeschoolers with various versions and aspects of its online schooling.

One more point of confusion: Some homeschool curriculum publishers deliver their products as digital downloads to individual customers. This is not the same as online schooling, but sometimes the same company also offers classes or another service that is online schooling. Company names can become associated with “online schooling,” but sometimes a curriculum is just a curriculum—even if it’s delivered direct to a parent’s computer.

For more on the confusion around online schooling and homeschooling, read our piece on Education Hybrids.

Third Rule of Online Schooling

Your child’s academics may be provided through online schooling, but remember there is no substitute for a child’s relationships with parents and family. Remember to spend time together, listen to your child’s concerns, help your child participate in activities and friendships, and show interest in what your child is learning.

That brings us to the third rule of online schooling:

Rule 3: While you’re connecting to the internet to set up your kid’s online schooling, remember to connect with your kid!


Sometimes and in some places, online schools are free to some students and paid for with tax dollars.

In some states, online school may be provided free to students by a public school division or a state board of education. Students enrolled in these schools are considered to be doing “public school at home” rather than homeschooling. They have to follow all the school rules, regulations, and testing requirements.

Some states also have public charter schools where parents support their children’s learning at home and receive school funding. In some public charters, all education is delivered through free online schooling. In other public charters, parents may choose to spend all or part of their funding on online schooling.

There may be some regulations as to which specific online schools can be paid for out of these public funds. Students in public online schools and public charter schools may also have to meet certain assessments or progress requirements to qualify for continued use of public funds.

Some states don’t have publicly funded online schools. Parents have to pay tuition for private online schools and for online schooling resources used for independent homeschooling.

For more information about receiving public funding when your kids learn at home, see our article, Money for Homeschooling My Kids?

Is online schooling as effective as being in a classroom?

In general, early research shows that, on average, online schooling is not as effective as in-person school, especially for struggling learners. You can read more about the research on online schooling at Education Week. Note that the comparison-type studies have compared traditional public school to publicly funded online schooling and have not included homeschooling in the research at all. Also, the effectiveness of different types of online schooling (teacher-led classes, self-paced curriculum to work through, apps, part-time and full-time online school, etc.) has not been studied in meaningful ways.

More research needs to be done if we are to determine the true effectiveness of online schooling. We don’t really know details of how well online students retain knowledge or develop skills.

That said, we can observe that the effectiveness of online schooling depends on

  • how well a specific online school fits the student—different online schools, platforms, and classes use widely varying methods
  • whether the experience is flexible enough to meet individual students’ needs—online public schools often have rigid requirements and don’t allow for self-pacing or address student interests
  • if there is a supportive adult partner in the home who can be a learning coach
  • whether a student is starting online schooling from a position of academic strength—stronger students adjust to online schooling better
  • whether the program is engaging in delivery and has high quality content
  • whether enrollment with teacher-led classes is limited to a number of students a teacher can reasonably respond to and work with

What is online schooling?

K-12 online schooling is an education model where students can learn through classes and experiences delivered to them via the internet to their computer or mobile device. Online schooling can be

  • Full-time or part-time
  • Public school, private school, or homeschool
  • Free (taxpayer funded) or tuition-paid by parents
  • Set up like a school or self-paced curriculum access
  • Core classes or enrichment
  • Secular or religious
  • With or without a live teacher
  • Created by for-profit or non-profit corporations/institutions
  • Accredited or non-accredited (accreditation typically not needed by homeschoolers)
  • For K-12 students, college students and adult learners

Online schooling may be designed to feature any (but probably not all) of these: video and audio recorded lessons, video class meetings, online readings or recommended books, internet links, slide shows, games and gamification, interactive websites, apps, documentaries, assignments, flash cards, quizzes and tests, study questions, demonstrations, animations, practice problem sets, immersion experiences, recommended projects, recommended field trips, virtual field trips, teacher instruction and responses, collaboration among students, virtual classrooms, and more.

What are the benefits of online classes?

The benefits of online classes include:

  • Learning in the comfort of home in your own relaxed surroundings
  • Avoiding negative situations at school such as bullies, peer pressure, overcrowded classrooms, poor security, buildings in disrepair, low resources
  • No travel time to and from school
  • A parent or trusted adult as the student mentor at home
  • Ability to travel and do online classes from any location
  • Access to classes or subject area experts not available in your community
  • Better for some students and parents coping with health issues
  • May or may not be more flexible, depending on the online class provider and class design
  • Technology can enrich the presentation of lots of content, depending on quality of classes

Is online homeschooling a good idea?

Online homeschooling can be a good idea for some families, especially if online time is also balanced with family-based activities that include time to play, create, build, make, read, go real places, and connect with family and friends.

Online homeschooling can be full-time, covering all the typical school subjects—in which case, your child may actually be more appropriately classified as a private school student, depending on the provider and the laws of your state.  Online homeschooling can also be part-time, with homeschooling parents choosing one or two online classes to supplement learning done offline at home. Of course, some online students are actually public school students, enrolled in a program provided by the schools but completed at home. In most states, these students won’t be considered homeschoolers by law.

Struggling learners who are not doing well in school also tend not to do well in comprehensive “all-in-one” online schooling programs; however, they may do better in a high touch online schooling experience, such as working with a well-trained online teacher in a single small, dynamic class at a time. They may also do well using immersive apps and games.

The key to using online schooling for homeschool families is exploring all the possible types of online schooling and finding the type and amount of classes and experiences that mesh well with each of your kids and your family as a whole.

See our Reasons for Online Schooling and Challenges with Online Schooling for more considerations.

What are the pros and cons of online school?

Pros of online school:

  • May help busy parents facilitate an education delivered at home.
  • May get kids out of a negative school situation.
  • May help kids with school anxiety or refusal.
  • May use technology in engaging ways to deliver content effectively.
  • In some states, may be free to some students as “public school at home” or as part of a public charter school.
  • Wide variety of types of online schooling available, so parents can choose what works for their kids. Note: some online options may only be appropriate for homeschooled students who are not enrolled in public school or public online school.
  • May provide access to courses and experts not available in your community.
  • A comprehensive online school feels complete to parents—checks all the boxes.
  • Some kids really like it.

Cons of online school:

  • May be too many hours sitting at a computer or device. Not physically active enough.
  • May be expensive when not taxpayer funded.
  • May be demanding for the parent or supervising adult at home.
  • May not be engaging; for example, an online school that just replicates textbooks and multiple-choice on screen for students to “work through” by reading and clicking.
  • May be low quality with gaps or incorrect content.
  • Some online school is rigid and does not allow for self-pacing or addressing students’ strengths and weaknesses.
  • Public online school (full-time, free to students and paid for with tax dollars) means students have to follow school schedules, school requirements for seat time and attendance, school rules, and school testing protocols. With a public online school, you don’t get the advantages of independent homeschooling—like flexibility of schedule, curriculum and assessments, for example.
  • May have limited enrollment.
  • May not work well for struggling students (as shown by early research).
  • Requires reliable internet and computer/devices, which not all families have.

There are also political and cultural concerns around online schooling. Some see it as a positive aspect of school choice; others see it as contributing to the demise of brick and mortar community schools.

Online schooling: Everything you need to know.



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