Myths About Online Learning

MYTH: Students who attend online schools lack socialization and social skills.

FACT: Online schools provide opportunities for students to socialize online in safe, online environments. Additionally, many online schools sponsor extracurricular clubs and activities in which students can "virtually" participate. Students are encouraged to participate in community athletics, clubs, and service organizations. As a result, students benefit from having friends in their online school, as well as in outside activities. This leads to richer and more successful social lives for online school students. In fact, a recently conducted study of parents of online school students indicated that students spent four hours per week on extra–curricular activities, which is the same, or more, time they dedicated prior to enrolling in an online school. However, for more than one third of the respondents, time spent on extra–curricular activities actually increased!

MYTH: Students enrolled in online schools spend all day staring at a computer.

FACT: Most students in kindergarten through fifth grade do only about 20 to 30 percent of their work online. The rest of the work is done offline—they read books, solve math problems on paper, draw, and conduct science experiments. As children get older and their reading skills improve, instruction and activities will involve increased computer use, according to educational standards. However, offline work will always be essential.

MYTH: Online schools lack the structure of traditional schools.

FACT: Many parents find the online school curriculum to be very structured. The lessons and activities that students complete each day have been developed so that an adult has all of the tools and structure necessary, along with the help of a committed teacher. However, online schools are also flexible—you can modify an activity to meet your child's needs or interests, or build on the spontaneity that can occur during a particular lesson or on a particular day.

MYTH: Guiding your children's learning is a full–time job.

FACT: Acting as your child's "learning coach" does take time. Your children will need to spend an average of four to six hours on schoolwork each day, and they will need your oversight to make sure they remain on task, particularly in grades K–8. However, the time you spend working with your children does not have to be continuous. Direct parental participation can range from 80 percent for early grades—where the parent assists the child with finding materials and moving through each day at a reasonable pace—to about 50 percent for middle school. By high school, the student is expected to be more accountable for managing his or her own time. High school students follow a stricter pacing pattern, with a group of similar students and under the supervision of a larger team of teachers; therefore, parental participation drops to about 10 percent.

MYTH: Students enrolled in online schools do not exercise.

FACT: Many online schools offer Physical Education and Personal Health courses, demonstrating a commitment to students' health—both mental and physical. These courses rely upon students recording their daily exercise in an activity log tailored to their fitness objectives. Additionally, many online school students play in community soccer, volleyball, softball, basketball, or other sports leagues.