Ready to Try Online Schooling?
If you are considering homeschool or virtual school for your child, researching is essential!
A few years ago, when my oldest was in the 5th grade we were overwhelmed with school-related complications and something had to give.
My son was struggling to complete his work on time and even when he would complete it, somehow it just wasn’t making it all the way to the school turn-in bin. He was lacking focus and motivation, not to mention the bullies and a plethora of other struggles involved in his daily school routine.
Enough was enough.
When the end of his 5th-grade year drew near, my son looked me straight in the eye and asked if I would homeschool him.
Honestly, it was something I had played around with in the deep dark corners of my mind, but not something I ever truly considered.
After sitting down and having a heart-to-heart conversation, I began researching our options.
The K12 Online School Program
Sadly, I wasn’t entirely confident in my ability to teach my own children, so online school seemed like a promising option at first.
We had a few friends that had children enrolled, so we looked into our local K12 school and jumped in head first.
My kids did online schooling through the K12 program for 2 full years.
The first year I only had my oldest son enrolled in the K12 program while my middle kiddo continued going to in-person classes at his regular school each and every day. I chose to do this for 2 main reasons.
First, I needed to see if K12 was the answer I’d been looking for. My oldest son was on the struggle bus and I was determined to find something that worked.
Second, my middle kiddo was thriving at school, so why mess with a good thing, right??
If I had to sum up our experience with the K12 program using just a few words, I would simply say “It wasn’t the right choice for us.”
With that said, this online school platform works for countless other families which is why I chose to break down our full experience and share my personal list of pros and cons with you!
Online School Pros and Cons
Before we dive into my top online school pros and cons, you need to know 2 important things.
One, this entire post comes straight from my heart, you guys!
If I hadn’t experienced those 2 years of online learning with my kiddos, I likely wouldn’t be where I am today.
Two, just because online school didn’t work for my kids, doesn’t mean it won’t be the perfect fit for yours!
I truly hope that our experience with online learning will help guide you while trekking through unfamiliar territory.
Online School Pros and Cons – the Pros
Something I found absolutely wonderful about the K12 program itself was the price.
Now I do know that not all online learning platforms are created equal and some may be more costly than others.
However, the platform we chose for our kiddos was very budget-friendly.
Plus, all the materials were shipped straight to our home! I didn’t have to go out and purchase a bunch of extras – huge win!
The school provided both my children with laptops, which enabled them to participate in daily lectures and write their essays. It was great!
Set Class Times
Not going to lie, this one made both the pros and cons list for me.
I absolutely love structure and schedule so I felt like it was only appropriate to add it to both, because yes, there are some downsides to keeping a strict schedule — even when you’re a planner!
With that said, having set class times can be extremely beneficial if your student thrives best on schedule (like my middle kiddo does).
They can easily log onto their online school platform, look at their upcoming classes or assignments, and know exactly what to expect. My middle kid absolutely loved this part of virtual learning!
Another bonus to having set class times? The ability to say no!
The introvert in me absolutely loved having a legit reason to tell people we couldn’t get together — “Sorry, we can’t. My kid has an online class this afternoon.”
This was actually pretty huge for me as I lacked the confidence I needed to teach my own kiddos.
As much as I wish I started out with the confidence I now have, I’m incredibly thankful to have had teachers to lean on at the start of our homeschool journey!
Having another big person to communicate with from time to time became extremely helpful when one of my kiddos would get stuck on something.
Plus, both my boys truly loved all the teacher involvement parts. They ended up getting wonderful teachers that worked with me and communicated wonderfully for the first 2 years.
Unfortunately, though, that took a bad turn in the first half of our 3rd year – which ultimately lead to our decision to leave the K12 program (more on that when we hit the cons list).
Yes, I went there.
I know socialization is a hot topic when it comes to homeschooling and I typically don’t put much thought into the ridiculous stereotype that claims homeschooled kids aren’t socialized enough.
With that said, if your kids struggle to make friends or you aren’t sure how to find your circle, online learning might be a simple solution. Not only do kids have the chance to chat with kids their own age online, but some schools also plan fun social activities!
For example, the school district we chose planned age-appropriate field trips, simple get-togethers, and even threw a wonderful end-of-year carnival for the entire district!
Online School Pros and Cons – The Cons
While the price of online school curriculum was great on the pocketbook, not being able to pick and choose what your child learns was a bust.
Plus, the course load was too much to handle sometimes — both for the kiddos and mom!
My middle son (who thrives on schedule and has an incredible work ethic) found himself getting completely stressed out or overwhelmed by the number of workbooks and assignments he had to complete in a week’s time.
With that said, he pushed through and got all of his assignments turned in on time — it was just much harder than anticipated.
My oldest son, on the other hand, required constant help and guidance. The workload was too much for him to handle and it took its toll on me as well.
Plus, he was being pushed through to the next level in certain subjects – even when he wasn’t understanding the material. Definitely not my ideal version of learning at home!
Set Class Times
Here it is, that pesky point that made both the online school pros and cons lists!
While set class times had some benefits, they definitely had their downside.
It was extremely difficult for me to figure out a schedule that would function with this program — and I’m a planner, so that says a lot!
Not only did we have to fit in core lessons and assignments, but we also had to make room for class connect sessions which left little time for breaks or field trips outside of the house.
It took me a really long time to create a routine that worked with our set class times, but I eventually make it work.
With that said, it was still very, very hard.
My oldest never could find the perfect flow with class connect sessions. Having online lectures for a child that can’t focus, simply doesn’t work!
After 2 solid years of having wonderful teacher experiences in the K12 program, my younger son got assigned a new teacher.
His previous teacher had left the school to teach elsewhere and she was going to be greatly missed – we just didn’t realize how much at first.
My son’s new teacher had major communication issues.
She was extremely kind, but unfortunately, she did some things that held my son back and caused him to no longer have an enthusiastic love for learning.
As a mom, this totally broke my heart.
She completely reset all of my son’s first semester scores (without addressing any issue with me first), essentially making him start his 5th-grade year over – right before Christmas break!
Tears were shed and I immediately had this huge realization that even though he was learning at home – we weren’t doing it on our terms.
Lack of Freedom
Now don’t get me wrong, I think online school can be a wonderful tool for some — It just wasn’t the right tool for us.
Having a struggle with my son’s new teacher taught me an important lesson that day and it was something we both had to walk through to help us land in a much better place.
I learned that doing school through an online public school meant giving up the freedom to choose and customize my children’s learning experiences.
I want to have a say in what my children learn, how they learn it, when they learn it, and where they learn it!
With most online school platforms, yes you can sometimes choose the when and the where, but the what and the how get chosen for you!
You need to attend classes, you have to use the materials they send, and you must do things in a similar fashion to a regular brick-and-mortar school.
Online School Pros and Cons – Final Thoughts
While I truly believe online school works for some, it simply wasn’t a good fit for us.
We chose to leave the world of virtual learning behind and try something more on the side of traditional homeschooling because I wanted something that online learning simply couldn’t offer.
Did it mean more involvement on my part? Of course!
Did I have to increase my curriculum budget? Heck yes!
Was it worth it? 100%
Online public school was a step we needed to take on our homeschool journey. It got us where we are today and I’m incredibly thankful for the things we learned along the way!
Online School Pros and Cons – Breakdown
I always encourage those that are interested in trying any online school program to ask themselves this question before moving forward.
“What is my reason for homeschooling?”
Ultimately, If you are looking for a program that has teacher-led classes, a similar feel to traditional public school, includes all learning materials, and your kiddos can still be at home — online learning is definitely worth looking into!
However, if you are more interested in flexibility, breaking free of the mold, and having a say in what your children learn — online school may not be your best option.
Online School Pros and Cons – Solutions
If online school is still on your radar after reading this article but you need additional options, check out our entire list of free online learning resources by visiting our free educational resource center! These simple freebies are perfect for the learner that thrives online, but doesn’t want to stick to a strict public school platform.
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