After years of teaching my daughter from home, Frans and I decided to look into virtual high school. We knew the curriculum was going to get more difficult and didn’t want to leave any holes in her education. Plus, everything from that point on was going to be on her permanent transcript. She needed more structure and the personal guidance and support of certified teachers. So, for her freshman year of high school, we moved her over to a virtual school.
What is a Virtual School?
Virtual school is, well, a public school that you attend virtually or online. This type of education combines the best elements of homeschool and public school. Families enjoy the freedom and flexibility of a homeschool environment. This allows them to tailor the curriculum to best fit each child’s learning style and interests. But, as a public school, children receive instruction from certified teachers. The K-12 curriculum meets state standards and students follow a set lesson plan each day. State testing is required as well.
These schools are tuition-free. You can use your own computer or sometimes they are supplied. Since all the schooling is online, you do need an internet connection. The cost of this can be subsidized in some cases but that depends on school policies. All necessary books are sent to your home before the school year begins.
Teachers assign students tasks, grade their work, and are available via email or phone if the student has any questions. I love this! When my daughter used to ask me questions, it was a pain. I had to do a bunch of research to find answers and then figure out a way to explain things to her. This became more difficult in the later grades. Now I just say, “Ask your teacher.” It’s awesome! Within a short while, the teacher replies with clear explanations, extra practice, or clarification on the assignment.
Parents do not have to teach or organize lessons. But, they are designated as Learning Coaches. It’s their job to check in on their child’s progress and to help them stay on track. If you have a student who is self-motivated and has excellent time management skills, that’s great. In our case, I have to check on my daughter many times during the day to make sure she’s actually doing her work. I can’t blame her for having a short attention span or getting distracted easily… SQUIRREL! Oh, wait, what was I saying? 😛
Connections Academy Virtual Schools
Connections Academy supports virtual schools across the country. Here in California, the program serves four main regions. These share the same curriculum, model, and staff.
You can see which California Connections Academy virtual school your child(ren) would attend by finding your local county below.
- California Connections Academy @ Capistrano: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties
- California Connections Academy @ Central: Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties
- California Connections Academy @ Ripon: Alameda, Amador, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, and Stanislaus counties
- California Connections Academy @ North Bay: Colusa, Glenn, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, and Yolo counties
Unfortunately, San Mateo county is not included in the approved geographic areas. We had to use a different program but I wish we could have used this one instead. California Connections Academy offers some great features that our program does not.
Virtual School Curriculum & Teachers
Connections Academy uses a challenging curriculum to prepare students for education beyond high school. Students can take advantage of honors and AP courses. Also, 90 courses meet University of California A-G requirements. A wide range of elective classes are available too. These include subjects such as world language, music, digital arts, and game design. All classes are taught by California-credentialed teachers. See a few sample lessons here:
Students have access to teacher-led live classes online via LiveLesson® sessions. These sessions may be one-on-one or conducted with a small group of students. Children actually see the teacher and even talk directly to them. Teachers can use a virtual whiteboard to explain concepts and can assign students to work in groups. Students are not always required to attend the sessions live and recordings are made available for later reference. Small tutoring groups are available if needed. I’m sure my daughter would have loved the chance to participate in group collaboration projects with a Connections Academy virtual school.
Going Beyond Academia
Connections Academy knows that learning takes place outside the classroom setting too. Socializing with other kids the same age is an integral part to their mental and emotional development. The school organizes field trips and other special events so children can get to know other students in the area. Students can also take advantage of the online clubs, internal email system, and extracurricular activities to connect with their Connections Academy peers.
If you would like to know more about Connections Academy see here (California specific) and here (general info). You might want to look into virtual school as an option for elementary or high school as soon as possible. Don’t forget to check for local or online events so you can talk with some of the staff. Registration for the 2017-18 school year is open now so you don’t want to miss out!
This is a sponsored post in partnership with Connections Academy. All opinions are my own.