The costs of homeschooling a high schooler can add up quickly. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to save money when homeschooling a teen, but the question of accreditation may remain. After all, most accredited homeschooling programs for high schoolers can ask for astronomical tuition rates into the thousands per semester and still call it “affordable” so you are convinced it is fiscally the best option.
Accredited high school education does not have to break the bank.
Many states offered a virtual school option for free based on the accredited public school system. While it is not legally considered homeschooling, your teen will still have the flexibility of completing school from the comfort of your home.
The question comes down to your budget and your priorities. Do you have limited spending money for homeschooling but your priority is ensuring an accredited high school education for future higher education opportunities? Would you prefer your teen study at home to eliminate certain issues at the school (bullying, medicine administration, special needs, safety, etc.)? Virtual school may be a good option for your family.
In this article, we discuss the differences between online homeschooling and virtual school and how to find virtual school resources in your state.
- Online Homeschooling vs. Virtual School
- States Offering Free Virtual School
- More Information for Homeschooling High School
Online Homeschooling vs. Virtual School
The main difference between online homeschooling and virtual school is the person filling the legal role of the teacher. With online homeschooling or any kind of homeschooling for that matter, parents take on the legal responsibility for providing required instruction to their children. Be sure to check your state laws for specific information.
With virtual school, the state and certified teachers are responsible for providing the required instruction to the students. The parents, in that instance, are usually considered learning coaches or guides to help your children work through assignments as needed.
With online homeschooling, the parents have ultimate control over which lessons are taught, the pace of the curriculum, and the days spent on schooling. With virtual school, parents must help their children fulfill the set schedule and syllabus, just as they would with sending their children to traditional schools. Certain parents may find this restricting and stressful, while other parents may find it freeing and gives them peace of mind.
Please keep in mind that even though virtual school is taught by certified teachers, parents must still be involved to an extent to keep your child on track. Otherwise, without structured accountability, students may fall behind.
Here are a few key elements to highlight the differences between online homeschooling and virtual school!
- Virtual school assignments are taught by certified teachers
- Online homeschool assignments are facilitated by homeschool parents
- Virtual school is free through the state’s public school system
- Online homeschool programs usually require a tuition, package, or subscription fee.
- Virtual school follows a set schedule. Virtual school must be planned around just like traditional school days.
- Online homeschooling usually offers the flexibility to take days off or change the schedule as needed. Homeschooling curriculum can usually be planned around other events like music lessons, sports, and co-op meetings.
- Virtual school offers a ready-to-go curriculum, led by the teacher.
- Online homeschooling curriculum lessons can usually be mixed, skipped, or completed in a different order. Parents typically have the final say over the schedule and the lessons taught.
States Offering Free Virtual School
A few states do not offer free virtual school options, unfortunately. However, it is becoming an increasingly common option and more states are offering virtual schools every year.
View the table below to see what options are available in your state! Note: an easy way to check your state is by browsing K12.com.