Why Choose Homeschool instead of Virtual School

Jenny/ September 8, 2020/ Family Life, Thrifty Homeschool Mama Tips & Tricks

This year has seen unprecedented amounts of children staying home from “traditional public school”. But contrary to what many may believe there is a HUGE difference between homeschool and virtual public school. What is the difference and which one should you choose?

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What is a homeschool?

First of all, what exactly is a homeschool? Basically in a nutshell a homeschool is where the parents nurture and direct a child’s education from their home. This may include a wide variety from those who homeschool online, Charlotte Mason followers, Classical Education, unschoolers and Lifeschooling, just to name a few. The parents get to pick what, when and how their children learn and they get to tailor it exactly to the child. So what is virtual schooling?

What is virtual schooling?

Virtual school is a completely online school that parents help their children do at home. There may be streaming or recorded videos, online worksheets, quizzes and tests or paperwork to complete. Depending on the school the child may be required to login at a certain time or in more flexible situations the parents get a weeks worth of work at once and have to have it completed by the end of the week. So what’s good and what’s not?

  1. Your kids are home! Regardless of anything else at least your kids are home! So if illness, bullying or long busrides are why you want them home then this may be great for you!
  2. Your schedule is more relaxed and flexible. Regardless of how your school district regulates virtual school its still wayyy more versatile and flexible than traditional public school.
  3. It’s cheap! Yes of course public school really isn’t free but to a cash strapped family virtual school may seem like a Godsend because you don’t have to pay for it yourself.
  4. The planning is done for you. To a family considering homeschooling it can seem overwhelming at first the thought of choosing all your own curriculum and then planning out your days.

So now what about the not so good?

What’s not good about virtual school?

  1. SO MUCH OVERSIGHT! Yes depending on your school you may range from crazy in your face regulations or hardly any. I recently read of a boy who was suspended because the camera from his computer saw a toy gun in the background. Ummmm. Really? Many schools require your child to login daily at a certain time to watch live videos and they can be marked tardy or absent. In fact some families had cps called on them because of this issue, even though they had spotty internet!
  2. You don’t get to pick your curriculum! While this may not bother some parents if your goal is to nurture and train your children in the Lord or provide non common core instruction than this will be a HUGE deal to you. With virtual school you follow whatever is sent to you. Even many of the teachers have no say so in the curriculum. I have read that many parents have been shocked at the lack of quality in the school programs along with glaring attacks on the moral and historical foundation of our country.
  3. It isn’t as flexible as homeschool. Yep, like it or not homeschool is the ultimate expression of educational flexibility. If your kids suddenly show an interest in Native American culture on Friday then you can homeschool all weekend teaching about that, including hands on activities. Virtual schooling doesn’t allow for that. Want to take a couple weeks vacation away from your computer? Well virtual school probably isn’t for you then.
  4. It requires internet. There may be some virtual schools that DON’T require this but to my knowledge the vast majority do. This can be a big problem if you live where internet is expensive, spotty or simply unavailable. We personally have satellite internet. It works some days and other days it doesn’t. For the cheapest package they offer its $50 a month. We don’t watch movies except during free time which is 5 a.m.-8 a.m. If we were to virtual school we would have to bump our package up to $100/month. This is simply out of the question for many families. Not to mention we’d probably be in trouble for failing to login at appointed times because our internet wasn’t working.

What about homeschooling?

Homeschooling has SO many pluses its really hard to confine them down to a few bullet points but I’ll try!

  1. Complete flexibility. Yes this one covers SO much! I have the flexibility to school during the daytime or nighttime hours, on weekdays or weekends. I also have complete flexibility to choose curriculum or make up my own for each individual child and each individual subject. I can use online school, unit studies, oral lessons, worksheets or hands on projects. I can focus on religious instruction and character building. Man! Being flexible is AWESOME! The only thing you HAVE to do is follow your state’s guidelines or laws on homeschooling. Some states are very rigid and others aren’t but all allow for a tremendous amount of FREEDOM compared to public school, traditional or virtual.
  2. You are the teacher! This one is super important because you make the rules and lessons, not another person who barely knows your children. You can easily tweak the way a lesson is taught specifically for a child who’s having trouble learning WITHOUT the stigma of “special education” classes. In fact that brings me to my next point…
  3. No need for grades. Gasp! I know I just heard a few of you fall off the couch. How on earth can you possibly gauge your children’s success or failure WITHOUT grades? Its pretty simple actually…Teach mastery. Have your child redo the work until they have mastered it! Think about it. Your child could get 75% right in school and pass but that means they are getting 1/4 of their work wrong! Work with them until they get it ALL right or have mastered it. They’ll feel accomplished and so will you.
  4. Ability to protect your child. Whether this is about protecting your child from bullies, mean teachers, illness or ungodly curriculum you can do this completely with homeschooling only. Yes like I mentioned above virtual schooling does offer some of these protections but not to the extent that homeschooling does!
  5. Homeschool is cheap! You don’t have to spend a fortune to give a superior quality of education. I recently read it costs $13,000 per child per year in public school! Wowzers! I can homeschool my children for under $150 year by using SchoolhouseTeachers.com and if you’re worried that homeschooling is too expensive for you I encourage you to read my post on 5 Thrifty Reasons to Homeschool. Free books can be obtained from the library or buy used or borrow.
  6. Homeschooling fosters sibling friendship. Oh don’t get me wrong. My kids fight. Drives me completely batty! But they are absolutely best friends and love playing together. When one is gone the others miss that one dreadfully. I love that!

So is homeschool or virtual school better?

I obviously can’t answer this question for you, but in my mind homeschooling wins hands down! However if you are considering homeschooling but can’t quite convince yourself or your spouse then maybe virtual school can provide a bridge! Just remember you as the parent ARE the expert not someone who has possibly never even met you or your family. God has given you the ability to homeschool and He is faithful to provide!

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About Jenny

Jenny is a homeschooling mom of 4 and wife to a wonderful husband. She enjoys reading, a good cup of coffee, and spending time outdoors with her family. You can find her writing about Jesus, homeschooling, and life on her blog Our Inconvenient Family, and contributing regularly at Lifeschooling Conference.