The Don Tyson School of Innovation sponsored this post about virtual homeschooling. However, all opinions are my own.
Homeschooling my son was not a decision that I made lightly or quickly. I’d actually started researching it while I was still pregnant. One option that I have been considering more and more is virtual homeschooling. Although I am currently going the traditional route, I have not ruled it out for the future because it does have many benefits. Here are the 10 things about virtual homeschooling that make it something to consider.
10 Benefits of Virtual Homeschooling
One of the primary reasons I currently choose to homeschool is so that my son can receive personalized instruction. He has speech and occupational delays which mean that he requires more one-on-one attention. However, he is not so delayed that he qualifies for special education.He is one of those kids that falls somewhere in the middle. I want an educational option that recognizes not only his weaknesses, but his strengths. I also want one that takes into account his needs and his personal preferences. That is why I chose to homeschool him. Looking at virtual schools, it seems as though many of them have that same concern in mind as the schools work with the parent to create a customized learning experience for students.
Students Work At Their Own Pace
Another aspect of homeschooling that I appreciated was the fact that it allows children to learn at their own pace. In a traditional classroom setting, the majority of the class may learn at a similar pace, but you almost always ave the outliers- those students who either struggle to keep up or who outpace their peers. Being homeschooled allows students who are struggling to have that extra time they need to truly master a skill or concept without the stress of feeling like they are behind. It can also fre those who are ahead of the curve to move forward instead of waiting for everyone else to catch up. Virtual homeschooling enables this same flexibility for pacing.
Speaking of flexibility. homeschooling an virtual schooling allow for flexibility when it comes to your daily schedule. In traditional schools, any extracurricular activities are limited mostly to evenings and weekends. However, with home and virtual schooling, you are able to work in other activities such as clubs, sports doctor’s appointment, and vacations.
One thing about homeschooling that is kind of scary is the idea of being the sole person responsible for your child’s education. Listen, my master’s may be in Educational Psychology, but I don’t pretend to know everything that there is to know about education. That is why I turn to the experts when it comes to schooling my son. With virtual schooling, a huge benefit is that you have access to experts such as teachers, counselors, and mentors who share the reins with you.
Built-In Support System
Of course, another benefit of having a tea of experts on your side is that they are a source of much-needed support. As a single mom, I depend on having support in the various areas of my life- including schooling.
Curricula Is Already Planned
Although one of the reasons many people homeschool is so that they have 10% control over what their child learns, I admit that I am somewhere in the middle in that I think that referring to what public students are learning is a good way for me to keep Christian at least on par with his peers.
Besides, I am not anti-public school. How can I be? My diploma and both of my bachelor’s degrees were issued by public educational institutions. But what it really boils down to is that I appreciate having help sometimes – which is why I am a fan of done-for-you curricula. In this sense,I feel that virtual schools have a benefit over traditional homeschool. With virtual schools, if you don’t want to have to stress yourself over the curriculum and instead want to focus on making sure they are learning, then you are in luck.
You Can Supplement Their Education
If you are one of those people who wants more control over your child’s curriculum, don’t fret! You can always supplement what they are learning.
Material May Be Provided
Another benefit of virtual schooling is that the materials are often provided. I have found that homeschooling can easily become expensive (though it doesn’t have to be). With virtual homeschooling, chances are they provide all of the major materials that your child would need.
Easier to Transition to Public School
I have always been upfront about the fact that I don’t know if I will homeschool my son all the way through high school. I’m not a psychic. I’m also not inflexible. I am taking this homeschool thing year by year to see if it is the best option for our family. Should there come a time when I feel that he is better off in public or private school, I would love to be able to make that transition as smoothly as possible. It seems to me that having your child enrolled in a virtual school might make this process a bit easier than if you were homeschooling the traditional way.
They Receive an Accredited Public School Diploma
I have friends who graduated from homeschool and attended the same college that I did. I didn’t even know they had been homeschooled until I announced that I was going to homeschool my son. So I know that it is possible to homeschool and go on to navigate college and the real world. However, part of me also feels like it would be better for my son to have a high school diploma from an accredited school. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know. But that is one of the things that I will keep in mind. It is also one of the reasons that I am keeping the possibility of virtual homeschooling in mind for high school at least.
Don Tyson School of Innovation
This bring us to the next part of this discussion on virtual homeschooling. I have been quietly looking at local options for virtual schooling. For much of last year, I was looking at one option in particular. However, I recently discovered another option that might be viable for when my son enters the 8th grade.
It’s called the Don Tyson School of Innovation.
This Northwest Arkansas school was created in 2014 to fill one need. The need for skilled adults entering the workforce. The staff and the curriculum work together to prepare students to be successful citizens. Not just at the locally, but nationally and globally. The school (with its focus on educating business leaders) is aptly names after Don Tyson. Tyson served as President and CEO of Tyson Foods. He also had educational ties to Northwest Arkansas in general and Springdale specifically.
The Don Tyson School of Education has a huge focus on STEM learning as well as on collaborative, project-based learning. The goal is not to just teach children it’s to mold them into critical thinkers and problem-solvers. The curriculum encourages a true love of and excitement about learning- whether students are struggling, gifted, or somewhere in between.
The school boast both a 145,000 square foot campus AND a virtual learning program.The latter is open to any 8th-12th grade student who lives in Arkansas.
Students have the freedom to master concepts at their own pace. For example, imagine that your child finishes a course early. Rather than having to wait for a new semester, they can move on to the next course. Students are also free to work on assignments on their own schedule. This allows for the flexibility to do other things throughout the day. They don’t have to stress about logging in at a certain time or staying logged in for a certain length of time. However, despite this flexibility, they still receive individualized instruction, support, and accountability from their teachers.
Students who live in Northwest Arkansas can benefit from the school’s hybrid learning program. This program allows them to do courseworkat home, but also visit the campus several times a week. This provides them with the benefits of on-site and virtual learning. Some of the benefits of on-site learning are
Career and Industrial Certifications
Students who have no interest in pursuing college can attain certifications. Some options are:
- Commercial Drone Pilot License
- Business Management
- Autodesk Inventor Certification
- Certified Nurse Assistant
- Alternative Energy
Become College Ready
Students who plan to go straight to college can get a head start. “Some students have the opportunity to move through graduation requirements at a rate that leaves room for college study. Students can pursue Associate Degree programs in Science and Art. They can also pursue a Certificate of General Studies after taking 16 college hours. With a partnership with Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) allows college credits at $50 per credit hour. That is a significant savings over traditional college tuition.”
Onsite students have the chance to apply what they have learned in a classroom to real-world situations. Students learn in class four days a week and spend one day learning from industry and business leaders.
Real Life Environment
The school was designed to mimic a real-world work environment. It has wide-open spaces like the increasingly popular open work spaces in corporate offices. It also has and movable work stations. These can be easily changed to fit the needs of each individual class.
My son is in kindergarten right now, so this is not currently a viable option However, I am keeping it in mind for the future. If you would like more information about the Don Tyson School of Innovation, you can visit their website or fill out an interest form. If you prefer chatting with someone, you can give them a call at (479)750-8780. I am sure they would be happy to answer any questions you have about the on-site or virtual programs. You can check out some of the reviews made by both students and parents on their Facebook fan page. For the most part, it seems like the students are happy there and that is what really matters. You can also check out this commercial about the virtual learning program.
P.S. Did I mention that these programs are FREE?! As long as your child lives in Arkansas, they are eligible to attend the virtual school. Obviously, your child would have to live in Northwest Arkansas in order to participate in the on-site program.
Have you considered virtual homeschooling? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below!