Why we chose online school for our teen

Online schooling (Photo Courtesy/BigStock)

Online schooling (Photo Courtesy/BigStock)

Anyone who’s ever heard me stumble through trying to explain the identifiable traits of a mammal, watched me do 5th grade math, or listened to one of my annual rants about why we shouldn’t be celebrating Columbus Day knows I’m ill-equipped to be a teacher. Needless to say, my two daughters have never and will never be homeschooled.

Online school though, that is literally on the table.

Ninth grade for my 14-year-old, is happening right now on the sofa, on top her bed, and at the kitchen table. She’s a high school freshman in the Commonwealth Charter Academy, one of Pennsylvania’s many online public charter K-12 schools.

We looked at a handful of others, participated in online info sessions, and attended one in-person Q&A with a PA online public school before deciding we liked the look, feel, faculty, and online platform of CCA. A couple of weeks in, and our teenager is liking it too.

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She wakes up around 8 a.m., makes her bed, and plops down atop it with her school-issued laptop and fires up the school’s education platform to check her schedule for the day, which includes Honors Geometry, English, Biology, French I , or one of the history, health, and career planning classes she began online earlier this month.

There are real, qualified teachers on her screen, answering her emails, grading her assignments, offering guidance every day. I basically set up the school provided printer on our WiFi and got out of the way!

We didn’t take choosing an online school lightly. Among our concerns, we wanted her to have a regular public school experience that would provide her with the grades to attend any college of her choosing. In fact, she’ll start accruing college credit with AP classes in a couple of years, just as she would have in her brick and mortar school.

Most of all, we wanted to explore a more flexible schooling option.

Our teen works, runs a small business (with her sister), is a night owl by nature, and also we travel often as a family. We thought, why not let her try an online school environment that fosters independence and offer rewards for being a self-starter?

She doesn’t have to worry about missing days because she can work from anywhere, at any time of day by just logging in.

Live lessons are not mandatory and are immediately archived, so if we happen to be traveling to Norway or Singapore — somewhere where time zones would reek havoc with a rigid schedule — she will not be penalized.

Another benefit with online schooling at home, safety. I know it might sound irrational, but despite the unlikeliness of her being hurt in one, we have a very real fear of high school shootings. As irrational as the fear of an active shooter situation occurring in her old high school is, I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t sleeping a little bit better at night. It’s not a perfect sleep though. I sweat with worry a little bit every morning around 7:45 when I say so long to my youngest daughter as she heads off to her brick and mortar school.

Assuming the online experience goes well this school year, lil’ sis will start 7th grade at home in the fall of ’19, and I’ll be a dad completely at ease.

In the meantime, we’re hoping this experience will prove even more beneficial for when our oldest heads off to college and assumes adult life.


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