The world of online education is vast, and it’s not new. For years colleges have been offering degree programs completely online, and even Volusia County Schools has had an online program for families who chose to keep their children home during normal times. But, generally speaking, primary and secondary education has always remained the same with kids attending in-person and in groups with other kids their age.
For obvious reasons, this year schools had to adjust to provide opportunities for families who couldn’t or chose not to send their children back into the classroom. Private and public schools have dipped their toes into online education and the result hasn’t been all bad. After spending the first few months of this year at home, there was a lot of talk about the importance of getting kids back into the classroom where they could socialize and get back to a normal schedule. We have seen the benefit of this for our students and are so glad to have them back on campus. Some students who struggled to learn at home are once again thriving. However, teachers and parents across the country are reporting that some students seem to have thrived in online education.
It’s easy to lump all middle school students together and assume they’ll all respond the same way but as parents and educators we know that’s not how it works. Here are some of the unexpected upsides of online education.
Some Kids Are Thriving
Just as there are many students who are more productive in a classroom setting, there are also many students who for years have struggled in traditional school. Maybe you have one of those children. He or she is regularly getting in trouble for not paying attention or for distracting his or her classmates during class. Anecdotal evidence seems to show that some students who are hyperactive or have trouble focusing have been more successful in an online education setting. When there aren’t other children around to talk to it’s easier to pay attention to their work. Similarly, some children who are more hyperactive struggle to sit still and quiet all day long. Being in an online education environment gives them the freedom to stand up, move around, or even pace while they’re learning.
On the other end of the spectrum is shy students who typically may not participate during in-classroom education. Speaking up in front of others may be terrifying for them and can make the whole school day very stressful. Being at home in a safe environment is an asset to the education of these children.
Kids Aren’t So Busy
Outside of the classroom, many families find themselves bogged down with sports, clubs, learning to play instruments. All of these things are good and important to a child's development. But with too much going on children can become overwhelmed and unable to focus on their education. As schools across the country have cut back on or even eliminated extracurriculars, parents and teachers are finding that some students are less stressed and performing better at school. Some parents are learning that boredom is actually an asset to their children’s education. As children have more unscheduled time, they’re able to learn to entertain themselves and explore their own creativity in new and exciting ways.
Families Have More Flexibility
The reality of living through a global pandemic is that some of our students may come in contact with the virus. For the safety of the rest of our community, those students and their families are asked to stay off of campus. We take safety very seriously and continue to take all necessary precautions to keep our community healthy. If for any reason a student should need to quarantine at home for a couple of weeks, our Synchronous Learning Program allows them to continue learning on pace with the rest of their classmates. Where in the past such children might have difficulty catching up from such a significant absence, these days we can help them stay on track in real-time.
It goes without saying that there is no upside to COVID-19, but it’s interesting to see how a significant upset in our traditional system of education may open all of our eyes to how individual students learn best. Perhaps you're the parent of one of those children who has done better in a slower-paced environment. In the coming months, as life gets back to normal, you may use the lessons learned in this time to make different lifestyle decisions in order to better support your child’s education.
No matter how the coming months and years go, we’ve all learned a powerful lesson about the strength and resilience of our children. As teachers and leaders, we have been so happy to partner with our students and their parents to prioritize a quality education that enables each student to be successful based upon their own special strengths. If you have questions about how to support your child through in-person or online education, contact us today.