A few weeks ago Alleigh started pre-kindergarten and we are already thinking about what kindergarten will entail. There are so many options when it comes to education – public school, private school, home schooling, online school. It’s important to do some research and figure out what the best option is for your own child. And so that is why I am sharing this guest post.
No child goes through school without struggling at some point. Whether it’s a single class or subject, an entire course, or the entire school experience, at some stage there will almost assuredly be difficulties. Parents can help by helping to identify the child’s learning style and providing support and resources to encourage children when they encounter these difficulties. Today there are many support options available including tutoring, online learning, and even entire schools on the internet. Computer-based and online learning are new ways to keep content fresh and interesting, engage the student, and keep children interested and motivated to learn.
In a virtual learning environment, students are exposed to teachers who may come from different cultural or experiential backgrounds than the educators in the local school district. This allows the child to experience different teaching styles and choose from a much wider variety of subject matter. Students in smaller schools, rural districts, and schools in backgrounds where there is a lower than average socio-economic level particularly benefit from the richness of the online learning environment. Consider the following:
Pros of traditional learning
Social interaction as well as educational opportunities.
Extra-curricular activities such as sports and music.
Teachers can observe students before/after school and between classes.
Behavioral problems can be spotted and addressed immediately.
School counselors available.
Public education is free.
Cons of traditional learning
Curriculum generally based on age, rather than ability.
There may be a lack of qualified instructors in one or more subjects.
School is generally held Monday-Friday during the day.
Feedback to both student and parent may be sporadic.
Pros of online learning
Customizable to suit the student’s learning style and needs.
More diverse and challenging courses available.
Wide variety of teachers available.
Curriculum based on ability, rather than age.
Cons of online learning
Generally, virtual learning carries a fee.
Some students do not have the self-discipline needed.
Reliable internet connection needed, a difficulty in some remote or rural areas.
In most cases the student will use a “blended” learning style of both internet courses and in-person courses or home schooling. This allows the benefits of both types of learning and gives the student a richer school experience. Teaching can involve “hands on” learning, videos, games, and other types of interactions to create a fun, rewarding experience for the child.
“Adaptive learning” is a more precise term, because the educational experience adapts to the student’s needs. One of the top adaptive learning platforms is known as DreamBox, and a website has been established for those who would like to learn more about DreamBox Learning. Properly-designed adaptive learning platforms can provide a window into new experiences that children may not be able to access in their neighborhood school. As schools are faced with more and more teacher shortages and cutbacks in funding, student learning is likely to suffer. One way to support struggling students or provide deeper experiences for highly-capable learners is via an online learning environment. Virtual learning has come a long way from the green-text-on-a-black-screen days. It should be considered as a viable option for at least a part of any child’s educational plan.