Posted in Helpful Information

Traditional Homeschooling vs. Virtual (Cyber) Charter School

TRADITIONAL HOMESCHOOLING vs. VIRTUAL (CYBER) CHARTER SCHOOL

What’s the Difference?

Did you know there were actually two different ways to approach homeschooling?  Many families in Philadelphia are familiar with the idea of  Virtual Charter Schools.    When they think of homeschooling, they picture students attending online classes from home through their computer.  This, however, is not the only homeschooling method, and even many virtual charter school students do not attend any online classes.  Following is a brief outline of homeschooling methods.

1.  TRADITIONAL HOMESCHOOLING:

Advantages:

  • Choose your own curriculum (hundreds of options to choose from)
  • Flexible Schedule
  • Choose your own support group
  • (Possibly) A shorter school day (Kindergarten can often be completed in as little as 2 hours a day)
  • Can work from school books at home (not online classes)
  • (Optional) Online classes available for students, particularly middle and high school students
  • Students can move ahead with course work when they are ready, or review course work as often as necessary

Disadvantages:

  • Must purchase own curriculum
  • Must pay for extra-curricular activities
  • Responsible for submitting paperwork to school district, having evaluations done, testing done.

2.  VIRTUAL (CYBER) CHARTER SCHOOL:

Advantages:

  • Materials/Curriculum sent to you free of charge
  • Every child given his/her own computer
  • Virtual Charter School Support staff available online or by phone for help you may need
  • Can work from school books at home (not online classes), depending on Cyber Charter School chosen
  • Online classes available for students
  • Several different virtual charter schools to choose from
  • Some schools will reimburse families (up to a certain amount) for athletic activities
  • Some schools offer free support/classes for children with learning disabilities

Disadvantages:

  • (In most cases) Your child is expected to use the curriculum sent to you, even if you don’t care for it, or if it doesn’t fit your child’s learning style.
  • Students may be bound by the time frame of their online class or curriculum.  They may have to continue doing lessons they already “know” because the assignment is required.
  • Possibly a Full-Length school day (5 – 6 hours)
  • Technical issues with school-given computers can be frustrating at times.

To find out more about Traditional Homeschooling and Homeschool support groups in Philly, please consider attending the meeting I will be having at the Northeast Regional Library in Philadelphia on June 4th.  More information can be found about this meeting by clicking on this link:  HOW TO START HOMESCHOOLING IN PHILLY.  I also highly recommend purchasing PA Homeschoolers “Guide to PA Homeschool Law”.  It’s inexpensive (only $4!), and very informative.  Here’s a link to purchase the guide: http://www.pahomeschoolers.com/lawguide.html.   Worried about the cost of homeschooling?  Traditional Homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive!  Please check out this post for money saving ideas: Money Saving Tips for Homeschoolers.  I also recently found a new homeschool blog that regularly lists free resources for homeschoolers.  To check it out, click here: Your Free Homeschool.

If you are considering enrolling your child in a Virtual (Cyber) Charter School, here is a list of Virtual Charter Schools in Pennsylvania.  This list is not exhaustive.  If I’ve missed one, please let me know!  Many will be having informational meetings over the next few months.   Please note:  some of these schools are only grades 7 – 12.   If you click on a school, you will be taken to that school’s website.

Hope this information has been helpful!

Copyright May 21st, 2013 by Gwen Fredette

4 thoughts on “Traditional Homeschooling vs. Virtual (Cyber) Charter School

  1. Nice list of pros and cons to each approach! When I first started homeschooling, it took me a little while to realize that the cyber charter schools were basically “public school at home.” That explains why it’s free (they use tax dollars) but why it’s far more constraining (you have to follow their curriculum, schedules, etc.). Personally, I prefer the freedom of traditional homeschooling, including the religious freedom to choose a curriculum that fits our family’s Christocentric worldview, and the methodological freedom to choose the classical educational method that we prefer.

    1. Well said! I know both forms of homeschooling have been a blessing to many families. However, I believe the traditional approach offers the homeschool family more freedom of choice (Christian curriculum) and more free time. Many Christian families do supplement their cyber charter curriculum with a Bible curriculum though. Thanks for your comments! – Gwen

  2. My daughter attends PA Leadership Charter School. We left public brick and morter school three quarters into the school year. She was not being taught at her level of education. She would understand the lesson and then told to occupy herself on the computer until the rest of the class was taught the lesson. At PALCS, she is given lessons based on her level. Not every student receives the same lesson plan. Plus, I could always instant message her teacher or just call her. I love working with her and intend to homeschool the younger two when they enter Kindergarten. It also helps that we are night owls and don’t start our school day until the afternoon.

    1. Hi Tracy! I’m glad to hear PA Leadership Charter School has worked so well for your family. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m sure it will be helpful to many readers! – Gwen

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