Here to Stay: 3 Reasons Why Families Are Loving Online Schooling
When brick and mortar schools abruptly transitioned to online platforms due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students, parents, and staff could not wait for an eventual return to normalcy. However, after experiencing some of the benefits of online education, many families are choosing to break with their children’s traditional schooling.
On a recent episode of K12’s On Learning podcast, four parents explained why they initially made the switch to a Stride K12 school and why they’ve chosen to stick with online schooling. These families are certainly not the only ones. “According to a survey of 1,000 parents of K–12 students, 45 percent would opt to keep their children fully online given the chance, and 22 percent would choose a hybrid model for their children,” Rebecca Torchia of Ed Tech Magazine explained. Why are families choosing to go virtual? For these Stride K12 parents, the answer is clear.
1. Flexibility that works for the entire family
Allison Marie Moore explained that online learning has afforded her four children the opportunity to learn on their own schedules. While some are more attentive in the morning, others prefer the afternoon or even the evening to complete their schoolwork. “The first few weeks were rough,” she said. “It was a matter of finding out what schedule worked for which kid.” Once they figured out that schedule, though, she saw the benefits almost instantaneously. On one trip into town, she was surprised by the astute observations of her youngest child, a kindergartener. He identified different types of trees and said that he could tell that the seasons were changing because of the leaves’ changing colors.
Jennifer Puente has noticed similar benefits in terms of flexibility. Her husband is a mental health counselor, and his work schedule often conflicts with their daughter’s schedule. With the flexibility of online learning at the Digital Academy of Florida, they are able to spend more time with each other. In the Puente family, online learning has also had the added benefit of protecting their young daughter who had been the victim of bullying.
In addition to offering flexible scheduling, online learning also offers flexibility in terms of how the curriculum is administered. Puente, who is her daughter’s Learning Coach, said her daughter was excited when they received two “gigantic” boxes filled with interactive materials, including everything from textbooks to rock samples. Her daughter was excited for the kind of hands-on learning that the materials facilitated.
2. Personalized instruction to meet students’ unique needs
According to research, one of the greatest predicters of student success is class size. Matthew Lynch, professor of education and author, explained one of the most prominent benefits of small class sizes in an article for The Edvocate: “Small class sizes work because they give teachers an opportunity to offer students more personalized instruction, which is probably the reason that academic achievement goes up. Teachers don’t necessarily change what they are doing, they are just able to increase their efficacy.”
This is what Delpha Ramirez Remez noticed when it came to her twin 15-year-old sons enrolling in a Stride K12 school. She said, “They’re learning better, and they understand [the material] better. It’s more like a one-on-one, and they learn better with the one-on-one.” Such individualized attention is not just helpful in terms of academics; it’s also useful when it comes to planning for what students will do after graduating. Remez noted how her sons have been participating in Stride K12’s Career Prep programs to give them a better sense of the career tracks they want to pursue.
Individualized attention can help students ensure they are performing at grade level, and in the case of Tiffany Bannister’s son, it helped her realize that he was performing at an advanced level. Now, he can work at his own pace, moving ahead once he has mastered the material instead of needing to wait for the entire class to catch up. “I love being with him and watching the process,” Bannister said. “We reenrolled for next year because we want the learning to continue at his pace and excitement.”
3. Avoiding learning loss
Learning loss is often viewed as an inevitable part of students’ educational journey. When they are on breaks, they almost always lose some of the content knowledge and skills that they gained during the academic year. This phenomenon, coupled with learning losses due to the pandemic, made it especially difficult for students to sustain their level of academic achievement over the course of the last year. Surprisingly, one group of students not only avoided learning loss, but they actually made educational gains.
These gains could be partially attributed to the fact that the Learning Coaches who are administering K12’s curriculum are the people who know their children best, and they can see when their child does not understand something and can work with them individually. According to researcher Doug Lemov, one of the reasons that students struggle to master material is that the bulk of teachers’ time is often dedicated to higher-order thinking rather than basic comprehension. Rather than immediately moving onto higher-order skills, Stride K12’s curriculum focuses on mastery. Puente explained how she enjoyed the fact that her daughter could retake quizzes and redo assignments until she had clearly learned what the lesson was intended to teach.
Similarly, Remez noticed that her twin boys have been learning more and exploring topics more deeply at their Stride K12 school, Texas Virtual Academy, than they ever did in a traditional school.
Considering enrolling your child in a Stride K12 school? Now is the time to do it!
AnnElise Hatjakes is a contributing writer for Learning Liftoff. Her career in education began in 2010 when she worked as a teaching assistant while earning her master’s degree in writing. She has taught in a wide range of educational settings, including a public school, a school for gifted students, a university, and a county jail. She’s interested in issues of equity in education, which she strives to address through her own teaching practices and writing. AnnElise is the recipient of the University of Chicago’s Outstanding Educator Award, and her fiction has appeared in literary journals. As a third generation Nevadan, she loves all things Western, from wide open spaces to wild horses.