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You’ve no doubt heard all kinds of stories about Cyber  High   Schools  – that it isn’t  school , your child won’t learn, there’s no social interaction, etc. Cyber  High   Schools  are growing in popularity but because all states are handling this virtual education differently, there isn’t a clear description of how cyber  high   school  is handled and delivered. The commonalities in all the programs are that in most cases, the  school  district will give you a computer and pay for your internet connection for that  school  year and your curriculum is paid for by your home district. So, your child is going to  school  at home and online. Here’s where the questions come in because most can’t understand how a child can learn without a physical teacher at the blackboard. Here is a list of the most asked questions that may help you decide whether online  school  will work for your student.

1) If my child is really struggling in public  school , can I move my son/daughter in the middle of the  school  year? Yes, in most cases, cyber charter  schools  have rolling enrollment. Some did that to attract enrollment in their first years and are now full with a waiting list. But don’t give up. Some may be able to take you anyway, as these  schools  understand that students and parents coming to them in the middle of the year are most likely in a bad situation at their home  school  district.

2) Will this cost me anything? If your state has online charter  schools  listed on their Department of Education website, then most likely you can move your student to a cyber charter  school  at no cost to you. They send you a computer and will reimburse you for your internet connection. I actually wanted to use our own computer, and it’s against their bylaws to do that (has to do with controlling how your child learns). AGAIN, all states are different and grappling with this issue in different ways, so the only way to know is to call the cyber or online charter  school  or distance learning contact at your state’s Department of Education. Private, nationwide online  schools  are expensive so research carefully before take the plunge. Your home  school  district will have to pay the tuition for your child to move to a state cyber charter  school  (depending on your state’s cyber charter laws). This makes  school  districts very unhappy as you can imagine. Be prepared for difficulty with  school  officials. I’ve had both situations. One district was downright nasty and still sends us letters saying “you chose to educate your child privately” and they aren’t responsible,(evidently the legal-eze their lawyers told them to write). Another district was large enough that it wasn’t even an issue. The best advice is don’t warn them ahead of time and certainly don’t ask their advice. It takes students out of their building, cuts their population and messes with federal money. Not your problem … do what’s right for your child.

3) How and when during the day does my child go to cyber  school  or do homeschooling? The answer is simple and almost too good to be true. On your schedule. Yes, your child shouldn’t be home 8 hours a day playing video games and watching TV and then  school  at night. That may work for a few but it’s not the peak learning time or environment. But remember, students really only need to be in  school  5 hours a day. That’s what they do in brick and mortar  schools . It’s all the passing to classes, lunch, bus time, etc. that creates a long day. In most states it’s 5 hours a day for elementary and 5.5 for  high  schoolers. So if you can do the 5 hours from 8 to 1 and then work an afternoon shift, OR break up  school  into 3 hours in the morning and 2 later on, that works too. Take the bricks and mortar off your thinking and realize cyber  school  and homeschooling give you the opportunity to take your kids on a road trip AND  school  with the laptop, cram a lot of  school  into a few days and then go on a road trip…it’s finally your choice.

4) Will my child lose or gain credits? ASK THIS QUESTION OF THE CYBER  SCHOOL  BEFORE YOU MOVE YOUR STUDENT.  School  districts vary greatly, even in the same community, so have the curriculum director at the cyber  school  check into this to make sure you aren’t losing valuable credits. My child took drivers education in cyber  school , and it wasn’t counted at the next  school  she attended. Just be prepared for differences in what each  school  requires.

5) Can my child attend after  school  activities and participate in sports in our  school  district? In most cases, yes! Many  school  districts are very cooperative with homeschoolers and if you chose the cyber charter  school  route you could probably work out a deal.  School  districts like homeschoolers better than cyber schoolers at this point because homeschoolers aren’t costing them anything. But make the homeschooling coordinator at your  school  district your friend and more than likely your son/daughter can play sports or participate in music or theatre.

6) Can I put my child in cyber  school  for just a year or two? Yes, it’s just like enrolling and moving a child from any  school . My child spent 8th grade in cyber  school  and then wanted to go back to regular  school . That year she regained the confidence middle  school  had beaten out of her, she did well in her subjects and she didn’t feel like a  school  failure anymore. It definitely served her well her freshman year. Please don’t hesitate to email me if you want to talk about this because when I was doing it there were few to talk to. My family thought I was crazy …  school  on the computer at home??? Which leads to the most important question …

7) How will my child learn in cyber  school ? Cyber  schools  vary too, just like  school  districts. The good, stable cyber  schools  are really reaching for the stars with their technology. They have cyber classrooms, with software that allows your child to even virtually “raise their hand” to ask a question or respond to the teacher. Teachers and students talk on the phone, email back and forth and are in touch actually more than a classroom teacher at a brick and mortar  school . Some classes need textbooks that will be mailed to you, other classes are completely online. Your child will make powerpoints, type papers and take tests just like regular  school . The difference is your child will be able to work at their own pace, which makes all the difference.

8) Is there social support for my child if I homeschool? Yes, yes! However, you will have to find the homeschooling groups in your community and take advantage of all they offer, and that’s a lot. They are highly organized, so much so that they’ve created “ schools ” where their homeschoolers can go a few days a week to learn the subjects parents aren’t comfortable teaching … science, languages, art, etc. Just in case you’ve missed the news for several years, homeschoolers have won the National Spelling Bee many years in a row. One on one education serves many kids very well and homeschooling has been bad mouthed for so many years, that their superb education gets lost in the rhetoric.

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