Education is important but just as critical is the program the student uses to read the material, complete assignments and interact with the teacher. When looking for the right program, parents need to consider the following features along with the curriculum adopted by the school.
The younger generations are computer whizzes and tech geeks with their experience on smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices used on a daily basis. Many schools have incorporated at least some technology either in a specific class (i.e. computer) or as part of the learning method such as smart boards, working on tablets or a media center. The benefit is that online learning in homeschooling is not as difficult to make the transition to for students because they are comfortable with working on devices but the long-distance interaction with teachers may take some adjustment and with the best schools is resolved without any disruptions.
To this end, the best online homeschool should have a robust communication setup between teachers and students especially for beginners who are adjusting to this method. There should be daily and routine contact outside of regular classes to check on the student, answer questions and connect with parents as well. Online learning is not just about reading material on the screen or being able to complete assignments, but the goal is to ensure the student understands what they are learning so they can progress through the grades. Another feature parents should look for in online programs is simple navigation so the elementary students can quickly find their way around the site from one subject to another. Print curriculum is offered for younger students as a standard but then parents are given the option to transition students as early as 3rd grade to online learning depending on the student’s comfort level and ability to adapt to this new learning method.
Technical requirements are always a consideration when using online learning but the best online homeschool should have these laid out clearly on their website so parents can review and setup prior to enrollment. Admission staff members can help with pertinent questions and provide recommendations when families have multiple students so they know how to track progress, manage log-ins and keep everyone on task with the online lesson planner. Curriculum is a fourth feature that parents have to consider and while this is important regardless of the format, parents and students should be able to get a preview of the material content and textbooks/online before they choose to enroll. Choosing the right school upfront ensures students can stay with the same program throughout their education and follow the natural progression of subject matter as it builds on itself in each grade.
Ask to try a free demo of the online portal and let your student navigate on their own to see how they do and what their feedback is. Textbooks give the student something to hold, flip pages and have in their hands but an online portal is virtual and can take some getting used to depending on the student’s exposure and familiarity with technology. Take time to review the basics, ask questions from the experts and make sure the program has helpful resources to answer questions. When looking for the best online homeschool, there are several things to consider but the most important is giving your student the foundation they need to be successful and work towards their future goals is the key.
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