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Homeschool and other non-traditional education methods are becoming increasingly popular for many reasons. One of these reasons is the availability of resources and support, as well as the increased acceptance from society. The internet has been instrumental in changing homeschooling and made the education method more accessible with online homeschool curriculums and online or virtual schools. However, homeschool and online schools are not the same, although some people use these words interchangeably.
Both online school and homeschool allow students to learn outside of a traditional classroom setting, but there are some distinct differences that you should be aware of if you are deciding between the two home education methods.
Differences Between Online School and Homeschool
Online school and homeschool have important differences because they can strongly influence your decision on which method best aligns with your family’s needs.
Parent Involvement Differs Between Homeschool and Online School
The role of a parent is the biggest difference between homeschool and online school. Homeschooling parents can buy curriculum programs. These homeschool curriculums are available both online or through textbooks, workbooks, and other materials. Many parents choose to create their own homeschool curriculum because it allows for more freedom than online school. Parents can structure curriculum around their students’ interests, strengths, and preferred learning techniques. However, it does require the parent to spend time making sure the student is meeting state requirements. The parent also facilitates assessments and manage the child’s education without the support of an administration or online school support staff.
On the other hand, online schools work with educators and teachers to create courses that integrate a variety of materials. These online courses may involve video lectures, assignments, and discussions. A parent’s main role in online school is to keep their student motivated and focused on the material. Online students perform better when their parents are highly involved in their education.
Online Schools Are Accredited While Homeschooling Is Not
Online schools receive accreditation, which means a student’s transcript is easily transferrable from online school to brick-and-mortar schools. An accredited online school will provide your student with a diploma upon completion of all credit requirements. Depending on state regulations, a student that receives a homeschool education will usually have to take an assessment to earn a diploma.
Homeschooling Often Requires Assessments
Homeschooling families must consider the laws and regulations in the state in which they live. Mandated assessments are required by some states for parents to prove that students are reaching certain milestones in their education.
For online schools, standardized tests and assessments depend on whether it is public or private. Public online schools administer assessments just as traditional classrooms do. Standardized testing varies for private online schools.
Similarities Between Online School and Homeschool
Online school and homeschool have more commonalities than they do differences. The following are several benefits that both online school and homeschool provide students and their families.
Promote Learning Independence
Online or homeschool students often have more independence around their education that peers at their level in traditional school settings do not. They can take charge of their own education and feel a sense of freedom because they get to work at their own pace. With more freedom, students become more responsible, making either online school or homeschool helpful in their development outside of their education.
Offer Personalized Learning Experiences
Online and homeschool students receive a personalized learning experience that is unique to their strengths and interests. In addition, homeschool curriculums also offer more room for learners to pursue their interests. They can study various topics that aren’t covered in school. Parents can also help their children pursue their interests in a healthy and productive way. For children who love learning history, parents can vet reading and learning materials on significant topics, like war during medieval times and other periods in history, to ensure the references only include accurate, unbiased information. False information and fake news are all over the internet; hence, it’s imperative that parents help their children find reliable sources of information and teach them how to spot disinformation and be critical about what they read on the web. For both types of schooling, parents can provide individualized help to their students and select curriculum or courses that align with their students’ abilities. Many homeschool curriculums and online courses are designed to give students extra assistance when needed, as well.
Give Students Self-Paced Structure
Homeschooling and most online schools allow students to work at their own pace. The self-paced structure of these non-traditional schooling methods lets students spend more time on subjects or lessons they are having trouble with while progressing through subjects that they understand more easily. The structure of classrooms does not inhibit students from excelling or spending extra time on difficult lessons.
Provide an At-Home Education
Many families turn to homeschool or online school to provide an at-home education to their students. They may do this for various reasons. For example, parents may want to spend more quality time as a family. Some students may be ill or in need of specialized help that they can only receive from the comfort of their own home. Other families may want an education that isn’t at home but rather on the road. Students who compete in sporting events or perform in musicals can attend school or complete school work from anywhere.
Both online school and homeschool are viable education options that provide various benefits. Families turn to non-traditional education methods for many different reasons. If you are deciding between online school and homeschool, it is important to consider the similarities and differences to ensure you make the right choice for your family.