The rapid development of the internet and information technology has been accompanied by a massive shift in the education system. Today, the society is no longer dependent on the traditional classroom system. Instead, other schooling systems such as online homeschooling and distance learning have emerged. According to an article by Accredited Online Schools, online homeschooling is gaining popularity among many parents. This has been attributed to the massive improvement in technology, especially the internet.
Advantages of Online Homeschooling
- Online homeschooling is cheaper than traditional systems
- It provides a lot of flexibility and convenience to the tutor, student, and guardian
- Guardians/Parents get a lot of control over what their children learn
- It allows guardians of children with special needs to provide education and special attention to their children
Disadvantages of Online Homeschooling
- Children are not exposed to social setups. As such, social awkwardness is a major drawback
- The curriculum guardians choose for their children may not be applicable or acceptable in the job market
Many parents believe that online homeschooling would improve the ease of learning because it improves accessibility to information. It also makes learning more engaging to the students. However, evidence suggests that online homeschooling may not be appropriate for all learners. It may only cater for some individuals or communities that have preprogrammed philosophies. This article aims to define online homeschooling, identify the learners who are eligible for the program, and provide reasons for and against homeschooling. In addition, it discusses the things you should know prior to committing your child, the curriculum options, and the resources available to assist in homeschooling.
Definition and Historical Overview
What is online homeschooling? This is the question that has evoked a lot of attention from many parents. Even though the definition of online homeschooling is still elusive, it can be defined as is an education for children, provided inside a home, with the help of technological tools such as the internet and computers. Online homeschooling is often used as a complimentary program for traditional classroom systems. However, in the recent past, some parents and educators have chosen to make online homeschooling as a lone-standing education program. This implies that it is no longer used as a complimentary system but rather an education program on its own. This has encouraged more parents to enroll their children in online homeschooling programs. According to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of children enrolled in homeschooling has doubled in the past two decades. While technology is believed to be the major contributor to this increase, some parents assert that online homeschooling is empowering. Nevertheless, very few schools have capitalized on this idea, and it remains a market for few participants.
Who is Eligible?
As of 2006, the number of homeschooled children in the United States stood at 1.1 million. Currently, however, that number has increased to 1.8 million. Even though the number of homeschooled kids are high, it is important to understand that not all these students are eligible for online homeschooling. The majority of the children legible for online homeschooling should have basic internet and technology skills and knowledge. In the contemporary society, most children between the age of 5 and 17 are usually technologically savvy and may, therefore, be eligible for online homeschooling. Despite this, educators state that the most viable group for online homeschooling are children between the 4th grade and the 12th grade. This is because these children not only understand the basic concepts of technology and the internet but also have the mental capacity to grasp the importance of education without much supervision. Nevertheless, schools still offer online homeschooling to younger children.
Even though the online homeschooling is not restricted to specific people, it is imperative to understand that this program is currently restricted to some niches. These niches usually have certain recognizable attributes such as culture, belief, habits, and preference. The following list shows some of the communities and individuals who enroll their children in online homeschooling programs:
Children in Remote Areas
Some families are located in remote or rural areas where access to transport is difficult. This often makes it challenging for students to attend classes or adhere to the prescribed school schedule. The idea of online homeschooling improves the ease of accessing education and ensures children are not left behind. Currently, some regions that have logistic challenges due to remoteness are already offering large-scale public online homeschooling to ensure the population is literate.
Special Needs Children
Besides children in remote areas, children who require special attention due to mental, physical, medical, or behavioral challenges are also the main of students of online homeschooling. This is because these children may find it difficult to adjust or adapt to the traditional classroom setup. In other cases, these children may require special medical equipment, attention, or therapy that cannot be provided at school. Hence, these children populate the online homeschooling programs because it allows the guardians and caretakers to issue individualized instructions and incorporate the use of specified technology while tending to their special need.
Gifted children may be book-smart, or geniuses in different subjects such as arts, music, and mathematics. In spite of their obvious talents, most of these children tend to fall behind their peers in class. This can be attributed to factors such as boredom and lack of interest, as well as the constraints set in the school-based education system. Therefore, these students usually require freedom and specialized curriculums that tap into their genius and allows them to express themselves. Online homeschooling is usually perfect for these students because it provides self-paced programs that encourage the learners and brings out their potential.
Religious and Culturally Dedicated Families
Although religion is no longer the main reason for homeschooling, it still plays a key role in determining the education program that a child might attend. Some religious parents decide to homeschool their children to ensure that they learn the basics tenets of their religion. These parents or guardians usually seek to incorporate the religious beliefs and values. As such, they are afraid that school-based programs may secularize their children. For this reason, they tend to adhere to homeschooling programs. Besides religions, culture also plays an important role. Some cultures do not support traditional classroom-based programs. As such, often educate their children from home. The incursion of online based homeschooling programs that customize and tailor the lessons to your child’s religious and cultural needs has encouraged most of these parents to shift and adopt online homeschooling.
Schools and Curriculum Options
As the technology, especially the internet continue to improve, the online homeschooling market is also improving. Currently, there are several schools and online-based tutoring services offering online homeschooling programs for your child. Each of these schools has its own curriculum and approaches. For instance, institutions like Khan Academy and Penn Foster High School currently offer curriculums in online homeschooling.
Penn Foster’s Curriculum
According to the Penn Foster High School’s website, the school curriculum is ideal because the school is accredited. Hence, it enables students to gain skills that would help them to prepare for higher education. Penn Foster’s curriculum is also flexible. This means that students are allowed to control what they learn by choosing from a list of twenty electives, in business health care and technology. The students are also allowed convenience as they formulate their schedules and deadlines. This means that students determine the pace of learning and can set their own goals and objectives while studying at home. The students also get immense support from their tutors to ensure they achieve their goals and objectives.
The Khan Academy focuses on personalized learning to students of all ages. Their curriculum focuses on providing instructional videos, practice exercises, and personalized dashboard, which is used to ensure all learners can study at their convenience. The school curriculum is very broad and focuses on many subjects including but not limited to mathematics, computer programming, science, arts, history, and economics. These two schools are just examples of online homeschooling options. Currently, many other schools offer online homeschooling curriculums. Other options may include DIY.org, elearningforkids.org, and commonsensemedia.org. Some public schools currently offer online homeschooling. Often, each of these schools has its own curriculum. To some, the program may be supplementary while others offer exclusive homeschooling options. Irrespective of the school, it is imperative that you understand that the different schools cater for a variety of learning styles, philosophies, and diversity.
Approaches to Online Homeschooling
Different online homeschooling entities have different approaches to disseminating knowledge. The uniting factor among most of these schools is the prioritization of nontraditional learning approaches. However, the personalized aspect of online homeschooling usually depends on the philosophy, goals, and objectives of the student and the guardians. For instance, some people believe in experiential or practical education while others ascribe to passive learning. Nevertheless, the majority of the online homeschooling curriculums are usually structured with specific educational theories to provide guidance. As a parent intending to enroll your child in online homeschooling, types of curriculums you should analyses the different and identify the curriculum approach that suits your needs as well as the needs of your child. Below are some examples of online homeschooling approaches
This approach often emphasizes on educating children based on their developmental stages. Therefore, children have to learn specific things at specific points in life. Often the students use prescribed textbooks to supplement any additional programs that parents may have. The Classical approach is common in most traditional class-based programs. However, it can be utilized with online homeschooling strategies.
The unschooling approach usually focuses on how the child learns rather than what s/he learn. This type operates on the premise that children are intrinsically wired to learn. Therefore, conventional learning limits their progress and undermines the intrinsic ability to learn. The unschooling approach believes that educators are facilitators to learning because children are born with the natural capacity to learn independently. This approach is very compatible with online homeschooling because it provides the flexibility and convenience for the children to set their own goals and objectives, while the educators ensure that they achieve these goals.
Effectiveness of Online Homeschooling
The debate on the effectiveness of online homeschooling is still an open topic for scholars. Whereas some believe that online homeschooling is effective others are of the opinion that it is not. According to Lorilee, Lippincott, author of the book The Homeschooling Handbook, the effectiveness of a homeschooling program is dependent on several factors including but not limited to the type of curriculum, the approach used, the capabilities of the student, and the tutors’ ability to disseminate knowledge and skills. Similarly, the effectiveness of your child’s online homeschooling should depend on these factors. Always make sure that your child has the best possible curriculum. A good curriculum for online homeschooling should reflect the child’s passion and needs as well as the guardian’s requirements. In addition, the curriculum should also align to the real word demands, such as demands of the job market. You should also ensure that your child’s educator is qualified to impart the necessary knowledge. A good educator will ensure that your children get the knowledge and skills they deserve even as they learn from home.
Resources that Facilitate Online Homeschooling
To ensure that your children can commence online homeschooling, you need various resources. One of the main resources you would need is a room or space where children can attend classrooms. Even though the children are learning at home, it is always important that you set aside a room for education purposes. The reason for doing is to ensure that the students are not distracted by other things, such as the television and video games. Other necessary resources are the Internet and gadgets that can be used to connect to the Internet, such as computers and tablets. These resources are essential to the learners because they allow them to access information from the school’s database and utilize it to enhance their knowledge and skills. In some cases, students may require pens, rubbers, and writing pads. However, the advances in technology have ensured that students can take notes using their computers or tablets.
The advances in technology and ICT have encouraged the development of new education programs such as online homeschooling. Therefore, over the past few decades, the number of students using these programs has almost doubled. This increase in the number of students can be attributed to the increased awareness among guardians on the importance of online homeschooling to special needs children, culturally confined, and gifted children. Some of these parents use online homeschooling as a supplementary program to classroom-based education, while others use it as the only form of education. The flexible curriculum coupled with the convenience of online homeschooling has ensured that its popularity increases among many guardians. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how effective online homeschooling is.