A few thoughts and reasons why online school is better. We are loving our online school. It’s so much better than a real school, and by that I mean a bricks and mortar traditional school building. I feel I need to share and explain why, at this point in our alternative education journey, we think online school is better than both traditional school, and homeschooling. I’m also of the opinion that for my older kids, they’re at the top end of high school age now, online school is better than homeschooling. As a homeschool (world school, unschool) advocate, that’s not something I ever thought I’d say.
Table of Contents
Online School is Better Than Real School or Homeschool
My kids are in an online international school, a real, purpose-created online school, not a state school trying to provide classes online and not a school of distance education. It’s important to make that distinction.
Online school is better than homeschool for us, at this stage of my kids’ education. It would not have been better until recently, and it would not be better if we weren’t stuck in the house because of border and local closures.
Is Online School Homeschool?
No, I do not consider online schooling to be homeschool, it’s not the same thing at all.
The reasons why online school are better than real school have much overlap with the benefits of homeschooling. However, I would not consider this online school model to be homeschooling. I, the homeschool facilitator, have almost completely outsourced my responsibilities to school and teachers.
In homeschooling the parent takes on the responsibility of their child’s quality education, rather than outsourcing that education to a school. I homeschooled from 6 to 16, I shouldered that burden, and now the online school is responsible.
I’m not shouldering this burden anymore. Honestly, it’s a lot less stress for me. Life is all-round easier.
Were you to incorporate some online tutors or teachers into your homeschooling then I’d still consider it to be homeschooling. In this instance, we’ve outsourced all formal education. I’m not a homeschool mum anymore and my kids are in an accredited international online school.
A lot more responsibility has passed to the kids too, they’re in the driving seat of their own formal education mostly through online learning. Let’s talk about the advantages of online schooling.
Is Online School an Umbrella School?
No, in our case online school is not an umbrella school. Umbrella schools exist and some have online components, but our online school follows a standard school curriculum.
Advantages of Online School
I’ll just give a brief list of advantages of online school we have found. This applies to the online school we use, and the use of online schooling in preparation for the British iGCSEs and iAlevels.
These online schools are available to kids all over the world and GCSE are internationally recognised qualifications. Kids can enrol in online programs for junior school, high school, and middle school. It’s even possible to gain an online degree.
To me this is what education should be like, this is the future. The many teachers I’ve talked to always comment on the amount of time wasted in public schools. When the kids are at home taking online classes this hasn’t happened.
- No Coronavirus risk, upheaval, physical distancing, or PPE.
- No school run or commute to school. No wasted time getting to and from a building, no wasted time in playtime or lunch breaks. Online students have plenty of time to themselves still.
- No uniforms or school clothes to wash and prepare, kids can do school in their pyjamas if they like, and mine do.
- Kids can move, go to the toilet, eat, or drink, during classes if they need to.
- Kids receive formal schooling in a safe, loving, home environment.
- Parents get to spend more time with their kids.
- Exams and tests are not compulsory.
- No school packed lunches, just good family meals, at home.
- No forced school sports and more free time to participate in sports or activities of the child’s choosing.
- Very small classes. The biggest class my kids have been in so far comprised just eight students.
- Years, ages, and accepted timelines are pretty irrelevant in the online schooling set-up.
- Good interaction with teachers and other students through optional voice and video communication. The fact that video links are optional is important. Cameras make some kids uncomfortable, but the teacher is always visible.
- Free choice of subjects.
- We were able to join mid-term, mid-year.
- No bullies. There have been one or two irritating students, but that’s good life experience, learning to deal with all sorts of people when you’re stuck with them. Being bullied is not good life experience.
- Parents can see exactly what’s going on in classes. If a teacher isn’t performing or doesn’t gel with the student, you are free to withdraw your child from the class. We have done this because of one bad teacher. I see no point in paying for teachers who aren’t up to the job.
- I think online school is probably more environmentally friendly than attending a regular school. There are way fewer consumables, less car use, no building to heat or cool, and so on. Obviously, I don’t have figures on this, but it feels likely.
- Online school is better for teachers, I would have thought. Some of the teachers have their own babies or children at home so can be there for them. Others are digital nomads in fabulous locations. All are working in comfort and safety from home. If I were a teacher I’d be an online teacher, for sure.
The Disadvantages of Online Schooling
The disadvantages of online schooling that we can see.
- Online school is expensive. Our online school charges by subject, the more subjects you take, the more you pay. In our case, online schooling for two highschool aged children costs roughly $1000 per month.
- No school sports. To us this a positive, not a disadvantage. If you love school team sports, you won’t be able to have this but you should be able to find sports clubs near you. We prefer physical challenges such as hiking, bike riding, snorkelling, scuba diving, running etc. We are very active, so school sports would give us less time for the things we enjoy.
- No science practicals. I see this as an advantage because I always hated school science practicals. I was a professional scientist and I have a science degree. My kids are taking sciences, I don’t think they’re missing out on anything by not doing the laboratory work I did. These practicals are not part of the exams and any experiment you can think of will be on YouTube. Teachers often include videos like these in lessons.
- The online school we use is far from perfect, this is why I won’t recommend them. The concept is great, but they have a lot of issues with teacher retention and teacher quality. There have been a lot of totally unqualified stand-in teachers when regular teachers leave, seemingly overnight. We’re early adopters in the online school world, I hope things will improve.
- The students don’t get to associate with other students during break time and real friendships are unlikely to form. Kids can connect via Zoom, Skype, or on platforms such as Discord, WhatsApp, or through after-school clubs. My kids haven’t been particularly interested in making friends this way as they rush to connect to their existing friends once classes are over. Or they go outside, use the trampoline, play with the dog, cook, go back to gaming, they choose what they want to do rather than being caged in a school playground. If there was another child in the class that they really clicked with maybe this would be different.
That’s all I have to say today. Lockdown made us stop homeschooling in favour of online schooling and for us, it’s been a winner. We have no regrets at all and the whole family is very happy with this style of education.
The children aren’t in school full time, they have a timetable and only log into their portals at class times. They have never had more than four virtual classes in a day and some terms they have free days. Their time is used far more efficiently than it would be in a regular school.
They are face to face with their teachers and other students, only if they want to be. This is important, they don’t want to have to turn on their cameras when they don’t feel they look their best, so they have control of their learning environment. This is empowering to them, nothing is forced. They are also free to leave any time they like, with my full support.
Stunts learn through discussion with the teachers. They can make notes or take screenshots. There is homework and assessments. They hand in homework and share Google documents. There is a high level of technical competency required, which they have.
The classes do follow the usual school year and weekly timetables, so yes, they do have school holidays.
We haven’t found it even necessary to buy textbooks as you can find anything online. There have been no course materials to buy other than books for English Literature study.
If you live somewhere with strict rules you’ll need to look into regional accreditation and regulation. It doesn’t matter to us if the school is accredited or not, all that matters is the exam passes at the end.
We may well return to homeschooling once borders open, or we may not. It’s pretty much up to the kids. Their many years of worldschooling certainly haven’t held them back academically so far. My elder son may even transition to an online college of some sort. As we live remotely, there are no options for him nearby. If he decides he wants to attend a bricks and mortar institution, we’ll find a way to make that happen
It’s of benefit to them to have tasted this model of schooling. They’re getting to see what the other kids do in school and are better able to relate to the normalities of most other children. They now know all about good and bad teachers, classes, curriculum content, and timetables. It’s been an interesting life experience and one we will continue, for now. We hope you have had, or will have a good experience of online school and agree that online school is the best option for kids. If not, please let us know in the comments. If you plan to continue homeschooling independently, why not check out our homeschool workbooks and other resources? These have been a great way for us to get those early years of homeschooling off to a good start.