Friday, August 27, 2010

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Are Online Classes an Option for Your Family?

Note:  I rarely have guest bloggers, because most people that have asked aren't as familiar with homeschooling as I would like and so their prospective posts don't really add much to the conversation of homeschooling.  (Do we really need a blogger who's never homeschooled telling us how to homeschool?) This is one of those rare cases when a guest blogger greatly impressed me, as did her service to homeschoolers.  Enjoy the following guest blog!

The beauty of homeschooling lies in the total versatility of selecting curriculum and classes for our children. As homeschool parents, we control what knowledge our children receive and best of all, who shares that knowledge with them. As a mom, I love this aspect of schooling my children, but the part that throws me occasionally into a panic attack is the responsibility that accompanies it!

The panic subsides to some extent
when I remember that I have options and that a homeschool network exists if I choose to utilize it. The network contains many opportunities, one of which is online classes. Yet, as a parent, how would I know if that option is best for my child?

As well as being a homeschool mom, I teach classes online and locally in Charleston, SC. I’ve spent the last twenty years writing, teaching, and studying under those who historically and currently have expertise in my areas: history, writing, literature, and communication skills. The number of parents who allow me the privilege of teaching their children encourages me greatly, but I also know that I am providing them with a much needed educational option. In fact, most of my students spend more than one year with me, taking multiple classes. Watching them grow into amazing adults blesses me beyond measure.

So, should your children take online courses, even with an experienced and trustworthy teacher? Some reasons that you might consider online classes include:

• You desire or need an educator in a subject area that isn’t offered locally.
• You don’t have the commute time available for transporting your children to classes.
• You want your child to experience the technology skills related to online courses, in preparation for college.
• You’d like your student child to develop self responsibility by being accountable to another teacher.
• You feel it would benefit your child to learn time management skills in a practical and relevant setting.
• You want a class that you can actively follow with your student to assist with accountability and training.
• The courses offer a greater challenge and learning experience than other available options.

No matter how great the previous list sounds, it’s important to realize that online courses aren’t for every student or every family. If you’re not willing or able to initially follow up with your child to make sure that assignments are completed, there could be an issue. If your family has limited internet access or unreliable computers, online instruction could prove to be very frustrating! How willing are you to trust outside teachers to influence your child in a positive way? For some parents, it’s not worth the risk.

Even the most confident parent can feel challenged when making the important decision of whether to utilize online instruction or not. I recommend serious consideration of the:
• Time the online instruction could save you.
• Experience of your child being accountable to another teacher.
• Value of allowing another teacher to objectively evaluate your child’s work.
• Additional learning experiences of time management, organization skills and technological utilization.
• Availability of the course(s) that interest you or your child.
• Credentials of the instructor(s).
• Quality of the courses and required materials.
• Affordability of the course(s).
• Recommendations of other homeschool parents and students who have previously participated in the online courses.

If you’re considering online instruction for your 6th – 12th grader, please check out my courses at Classes by Beth. Registration information, tuition rates and course listings are all posted on that website. You may even find other articles of interest. The next term begins on September 8th. I would consider it a privilege to respond to any questions or concerns that you might have in relationship to online instruction, so feel free to email me or comment on this blog. Many thanks to Andrea for letting me guest blog and for all of her contributions to homeschooling! We are blessed to homeschool during a time when support is so readily available!

WalletPop Contributor


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