My Daughter Just Completed Her First Semester of Virtual School and....

I think it ended up being a great decision.

Granted, pulling a child out of a traditional school setting in favor of taking their classes online isn't something that is going to work for everyone. But, while I had my doubts when we pulled the trigger following her freshman year of high school, it was definitely the right choice for her.

First of all, her grades have improved considerably. She went from barely passing her classes to A's and B's with high marks both on tests and homework (the latter was her primary issue). She feels the lessons are much easier to follow without constant distractions from kids who don't want to learn (a huge problem for her last year) and, if she doesn't understand something, she can get almost immediate help from the teacher or can just watch the video replay of the class.

She is also a heck of a lot less stressed than she was last year. She doesn't have to worry about forgetting something in her locker or only having three minutes to get to a classroom on the other side of the school. And, while she gets roughly the same amount of homework, she gets much more time to complete it (more on that in a bit). Also helping (at least in my opinion) is there is no more worrying about running into a bully or dealing with in-school friend drama.

My daughter has also been pretty impressed with the selection of classes she didn't previously have the option to take. This semester, for example, she's taking criminology. Last semester, she took American Sign Language. She's now considering asking if she can take a summer school class in mythology or some other subject of interest.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

The first semester wasn't completely hiccup free. Since my wife and I both work, we did have to experiment a bit with where our daughter would take the classes. At first, we thought she'd be OK just staying at home on her own (saving us a little bit of stress in the morning) with me checking in on her at lunch. But, we eventually found it was better to take her to her grandmother's instead so there was someone there to make sure she wasn't getting distracted.

She also has a surprising amount of free time during the day. She only has two live classes each day. They are done by 11 a.m. (usually sooner) and, since she has an hour break in between them, she typically has her independent study courses and homework done by noon. This gives her more than 3 extra hours she didn't have when she was attending a traditional brick-and-mortar school and, while it sounds great on the surface, it does lead to quite a bit of boredom on her part, especially since her friends are still in class.

For her part, she's been trying to find ways to take advantage of the extra time. She started going to the ice rink in the early afternoon (when she has the ice practically to herself) for extra practice or, when she's not doing that, gets on the treadmill or helps her grandmother with housework. All three of those, incidentally, can be counted toward her physical education requirements. I also have told her I'm on board with her getting a part time job.

Surprisingly, one thing I thought would be a problem ended up not being one. When we enrolled her, I was concerned she wouldn't have enough verbal interaction with other people. But, as it turns out, the school does a good job of making her talk (via microphone) to her classmates and even makes her submit some of her assignments via a video recording. And, ironically, this has had much more of a positive impact on her than her previous school did. She seems much more confident when talking to people and is even trying to start a debate club. I definitely didn't expect that.

Again, this may not be the best option for everyone. But, when it comes to my daughter, I have yet to see anything that makes me think this wasn't a good choice. In fact, I haven't ruled out doing the same for her younger sister if she decides she wants a different education experience.

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