Tis the season!  No, not THAT season.  Back to school season!  Unfortunately, this year is not shaping up to be a “normal” school year that everyone was so desperately hoping for.  With Covid-19 running rampant through our towns and communities, you may be hesitant to send your child off to school.  But you are not worried!  You will be working from home and your district has a virtual option.  However, no two schools are alike when it comes to teaching students virtually.  It is important to conduct some research in order to see what your district can and cannot provide you through their online program.  

Larger school districts may have had a virtual program already in place prior to Covid.  That’s great news for you!  Your child will have a well laid out academic program taught by a certified teacher that has experience teaching online.  Or you may have something completely different. 

Districts that did not have a virtual program prior to the Covid-19 virus that prompted shutdowns across the country, were scrambling last minute to implement one.  This led to some serious issues regarding staffing, attendance, and authentic student work, which educators are trying to counteract this year.  When schools began to open up, those same virtual teachers were asked to come back to the classroom and teach to “in-person” students as well as their virtual kiddos.  Asking a teacher to teach students in-person and online simultaneously is unprecedented and ineffective.  Many teachers seemed to “give-up” on the virtual students, stating that it was too difficult to manage two totally different environments.  

 

But if you are not quite ready to take on the task of homeschooling your child, the school’s virtual option might be your best bet.  Here are some things to consider when contemplating which option to choose:

  1. Who is teaching your child?  Is it a certified teacher who has experience teaching virtually or is it a classroom teacher trying to teach students who are in-person and online at the same time?  Some districts designate one teacher to teach virtual students only.  This is actually a great plan and can help your child build rapport with their teacher online.
  2. Do you prefer synchronous or asynchronous instruction?  If you are not familiar with the terms, synchronous teaching is live using platforms like Google Meet or Zoom.  Asynchronous instruction involves you becoming the facilitator at home, making sure your child completes their work in a timely fashion.
  3. Does the school have strict deadlines to complete and submit work and are you able to work within those deadlines?  Sometimes parents like the flexibility of taking their children out to lunch or maybe to the park on a nice day.  It is important to check to see if this is feasible with due dates assigned by the teacher and/or district.
  4. What are your plans post-covid?  If things begin to get back to “normal”, are you going to keep your child at home?  What if your district doesn’t offer a virtual program anymore?  Are you able to continue homeschooling on your own?

 

Homeschooling during the pandemic can be achieved successfully using a district’s virtual option if the district provides the courses needed by certified teachers who are not teaching in-person and online at the same time.  Having a self-paced asynchronous curriculum will allow you and your child the flexibility to submit assignments on your time (all within reasonable limits).  I would encourage parents and students to discuss all their options before enrolling in any program this fall. 

If your school district doesn’t offer a virtual option, check out the great online curriculums available on GSN.

Learn more about or try a demo of GSN’s curriculum here: https://globalstudentnetwork.com/curriculum

Melissa Quinn

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