Potential Advantages and Challenges of Online Schooling FAQs

Choosing a school for your child is one of a parent’s most important decisions. An online TK–12 education may be a good option. As with all options, there are several factors to consider. By providing the information below, we hope to address some questions you may have about K12-powered online programs.

In general, what are the advantages and challenges of attending an online school?

Advantages: Some of the key advantages students have found in attending online schools is the flexibility it affords them and the ability to learn in a non-classroom environment that may be more suitable for some students who are not succeeding in traditional schools. Like any public school, the online public schools powered by K12 are also tuition-free, thus available to any student looking for an alternative, subject to any state limitations such as enrollment caps.

Traditional public schools follow a rigid schedule of daily lessons. In contrast, with the online public schools served by K12, students have the flexibility to determine how much time is necessary to spend on each day’s lessons. Although students must master their lessons and pass their exams, they can work at their own pace each day to maximize their chances for succeeding.

Another advantage is increased direct parental engagement in your child’s daily classes, which is central to the K12-powered program and more limited in traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Some students also find that learning in the home environment with the help of a Learning Coach allows them to be more focused on their courses and provides fewer distractions to the learning process than the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom.

Teacher management of distractions occurring in traditional classrooms is removed, so the online teacher can address each student’s need on a dedicated basis.

Online learning also eliminates the need to travel back and forth to school, thus permitting more time for other social and developmental activities.

Challenges: Attending school online requires both time online as well as time offline to successfully complete required lessons. However, some students find the amount of time required to be in front of a computer daunting.

Our online courses also require students to work independently offline with their textbooks and other educational materials. This work requires the oversight of a dedicated Learning Coach, especially when students are in the early elementary years.

Students used to a traditional school setting may have to adjust to not having a teacher standing in front of them for immediate feedback.

Is using the K12 online school platform difficult?

Advantage: The online learning system requires a unique username and password. Once students log in, they have access to course calendars, online lessons, course progress tracking, supplemental tools, and Class Connect sessions, all available in the same place.

Challenge: Tackling new technology and going to public school outside a traditional classroom can be frustrating at first, especially for students and Learning Coaches with limited computer skills. However, K12 provides assistance to both students and their Learning Coaches through the Strong Start and Learning Coach University programs. In addition, our technical support team is just a phone call away. K12 also provides online self-help support, where students and Learning Coaches can go to find solutions to the most common issues encountered when using the online school system.

I will be teaching my child for the first time. As my child’s Learning Coach, what should I expect?

Learning Coaches support students in the learning process. They’re responsible for ensuring their student is on track with assignments and coursework as well as communicating with their teachers throughout the school year. Learning Coaches play an active role, especially in the early grades.

Advantage: One of the aspects Learning Coaches most enjoy is the additional time with their child and their daily interactions as they support their child’s pursuit of their educational goals. Throughout the year, the K12 Learning Coach University offers a large selection of live sessions, workshops, and events that provide support for Learning Coaches.

Challenge: Learning Coaches can find it challenging to fulfill the necessary time commitment and effort. Your role as a Learning Coach will also change as your child grows. In the early elementary years (grades TK–5), Learning Coaches must be prepared to spend four to six hours per day working with their student on lessons. In the middle-school and high-school years, Learning Coaches spend approximately one to three hours with their student.

Parents who don’t speak English or have limited English-language fluency may find taking on the Learning Coach role especially challenging. However, K12 pairs the family with an English Language teacher who works with the student daily in simultaneous instruction to help the student where the Learning Coach cannot.

How structured is the online school day?

Advantage: In short, it is less structured than in a traditional school setting. The flexibility of your student’s class schedule is dependent in large part on your student’s grade level and on how much additional support from teachers your student needs. Elementary students who are successful with grade-level work can choose what time of the day they would like to complete lessons. Due dates for lessons are somewhat flexible if students are staying on track for course completion. Students needing additional teacher support will have to attend scheduled, live Class Connect sessions throughout the week. The middle school and high school programs are a combination of self-paced work and scheduled lessons, activities, and exams. Student must attend Class Connects and do school work daily to stay on track. But the daily schedule can be flexible, allowing for lessons at different times of the day, and schooling can take place wherever there’s an internet connection—at home, in a library, on vacation, etc.

Challenge: While there is flexibility regarding when and where your student does their coursework, all students are expected to complete schoolwork each day, attend virtual Class Connect sessions as scheduled by their teachers, and achieve one year’s academic growth in a year’s time. When students are not learning at grade level and need additional support from teachers, there will be more time requirements regarding when a student must attend live Class Connect sessions. These sessions may be a few hours a week or 20 to 25 hours a week, depending how much direct teacher instruction a student requires. In addition to complying with state attendance requirements, all students must also comply with all state testing requirements. The state testing location may not be near your house, so you may have to travel to take state-proctored tests.

Will my child’s teacher provide instruction, answer questions, and address learning needs?

Advantage: Online teachers are available via phone, email, and the online Class Connect sessions they lead. In addition, IQLA teachers are specially trained in online instruction. Alongside the student’s Learning Coach (a parent or other responsible adult), the teacher plays an active role in helping students achieve their educational goals.

Challenge: Online teachers may not be as immediately accessible as teachers in an in-person setting. In addition, parents are often concerned their student won’t have sufficient face-to-face time with their online teachers.

While teachers strive to respond to all emails and voicemails within 24 hours on school days, students and Learning Coaches may need to be flexible and find other courses to work on when waiting on a response from the teacher.

How will my child’s socialization be impacted by attending school online?

Part of every child’s educational experience is not only the academic lessons they master, but also the socialization skills acquired through daily interactions with peers and teachers.

Advantage: One of the big reasons parents often turn to online schooling is to remove their children from negative social environments at schools, which can include bullying and ostracizing children. With online schooling, this type of unfavorable socialization is mostly eliminated. But learning online does not mean a child’s socialization development stops. Socialization skills are acquired in every aspect of a child’s life wherever and whenever they are interacting with others. So whether your child is participating in a virtual Class Connect, playing on the playground, going on school-sponsored museum visits, or taking part in one of the many other field trips or extracurricular activities that are part of the IQLA educational experience, they’re developing socialization skills.

Challenge: As stated above, attending school online will eliminate or greatly reduce the impact of the negative socialization that can be part of a child’s school environment. But learning at home could affect a child’s socialization in general because they spend less time interacting in person with peers in the classroom setting. However, many online students are involved in activities surrounding sports, religious institutions, or volunteer activities, and the Learning Coaches of these students often find there is plenty of opportunity for students to be social and to learn social skills outside of the school environment. For some students, being alone in a home setting during the day can feel isolating, and they may need a traditional school setting where there is constant in-person interaction with other students and with teachers.