Should I Use an Online Charter School?
You spent the summer preparing to homeschool, poured through as many catalogs as you could find, and may have even attended a homeschool convention in your area. You’ve made a couple of homeschooling friends, you’ve gathered supplies and curricula, and now you’ve officially begun your school year. As the weeks pass by, you might start wondering if it would’ve been easier to go with an online charter school instead of doing everything yourself. Here are some reasons people choose an online charter school, along with why this option may or may not work for you.
Reasons to Use an Online Charter School
It’s cheaper. Most online charter schools provide free curriculum and many provide a computer to use (or a stipend to use toward your internet bill if you already own a computer). This definitely beats the cost of pricey curriculum, but there are options that allow you to homeschool free of charge, too. Both DiscoveryK12 and Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool provide a curriculum online at no cost. Both choices cover Kindergarten through high school.
Online charter schools provide teachers. For some, the accountability of having a teacher for their child to report to takes some of the burden off the parents. It can help to have someone else assign the work where your job is simply to supervise and make sure your child completes the work required. This can be time-consuming, though, if you have multiple children. Most online charter schools also require longer school days than you might otherwise want. If you’re used to putting in a few hours before lunch each day, you may find it to be more of a burden when you’re required to put in five or six hours because that’s what the school requires.
Free standardized testing. If you have to pay for your child to take a standardized test each year, this may seem appealing. Anything that alleviates the financial burden for parents can be helpful. However, not only are standardized tests usually free with charters; they’re also often a requirement. This means that even if you aren’t the type to typically engage in standardized testing, online charter schools usually require it.
Access to prearranged social gatherings. Most online charter schools have social gatherings and clubs the students can attend. If your child feels isolated because he’s no longer around his school friends, he may enjoy going on outings and field trips arranged by the charter school. This is no different from what homeschooling support groups and co-ops provide, though. If you’re looking for opportunities for your child to make friends and go on field trips, reach out to your local homeschool support group for information on how you and your child can become more involved.
For some families, online charter schools are just what they have been looking for. In other cases, parents and children have certain things they’re looking for but don’t know how to go about finding them. Sometimes families don’t realize that their local homeschooling support groups offer many of the same benefits the charter schools offer.
Also, keep in mind that in most states a child who enrolls in an online charter school is not really a “homeschooler”; he’s a public school student. While this doesn’t bother some families, it’s just the opposite of what other families want. Whether you decide to go with an online charter school or not, make an informed choice that best suits your family.
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