Back-to-school season starts in mid-summer and quickly becomes an inescapable part of daily life. Popular TV shows feature scripts about locker combinations, surly bus drivers, and harried parents rushing their children from one school activity to another. Advertising for back-to-school sales permeate mailboxes, email inboxes, the airwaves, and television. Some parents who grew up attending traditional school may associate the end of summer with good memories of returning to school, like reconnecting with old friends. It’s helpful to consider some ways that online school makes the back-to-school season more enjoyable for both children and parents.
1. The crowds are in the classrooms, not at the beach.
Many families whose children attend online school choose to take vacations in September after traditional school begins. The classrooms are packed in traditional schools while the weather is still summery outside, but students who attend online school can take advantage of trips to the beach or to theme parks. Families can enjoy short lines for rides and plenty of space on the sand to stretch out and relax.
2. Breakfast doesn’t have to feel like a relay race.
Parents with students in traditional schools might hand off toasted pastries as their children speed out the door to get to school on time. Families with children in online school can make breakfast a more leisurely meal, spending time together around the kitchen table and sharing their plans for the day. Bacon and eggs with a side of fresh-cut fruit? There’s time for that.
3. There are fewer fights about buying the “must-have” backpack or lunch bag.
Children in traditional schools can become overly concerned with how others perceive their appearance, including what clothes and accessories are in their wardrobe. Parents can feel pulled between wanting their children to fit in at school and maintaining a sensible household budget. Students in online school feel less pressure to show off an expensive book bag or pair of shoes. And the budget for locker decorations is $0.
4. Online school provides support for adequate sleep and better health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that school-aged children get between 8-12 hours of sleep each night. However, lots of children in middle and high school set their alarm clocks for 6 a.m. (or earlier) during the school year, which can result in chronic sleep deprivation. When students arrive at school, they spend most of the day seated at desks. In addition, school cafeteria food in the United States doesn’t always offer healthy options. When students attend an online school, they can choose to wake up a bit later; this additional sleep provides a myriad of physical and emotional benefits. During the day, children can take frequent breaks from schoolwork to be physically active—and some coursework builds in activity as part of the lesson. When it’s time to eat, families can choose healthy options instead of “mystery meat,” or even involve their children in building a weekly menu of nutritionally-balanced lunches.
5. There is less anxiety about new school situations.
“What will my teacher be like? Will I have to sit next to the class bully? Will people make fun of all the freckles I got during the summer?” Some children dread going back to traditional school because it feels fraught with potentially difficult situations. Most of this anxiety is lessened when children attend an online school. There are opportunities for families to meet new teachers one-on-one (via email, phone, or Skype), which helps students feel more comfortable. Bullying is not tolerated, and there is far less emphasis on students’ physical appearances. Instead, the emphasis is placed on a student’s character, personality, and learning style.
6. Students can have alone time when they need it.
Many students come home from traditional school feeling a little cranky, which might be because they have been forced into socializing with other people all day without a break. Most children, even extroverts, need a little alone time during the day to process new information. Students who attend online school can build these breaks into their daily schedule in a way that is most appropriate for them. As a result, they are better able to have positive interactions with peers, teachers, and family members.
7. More interactions happen with people of all ages.
Life in the real world includes interactions between people from all different age groups—toddlers to senior citizens. Traditional schools remove this aspect of daily life by grouping students into same-aged classrooms where they spend most of their time. When students attend online school, they have more opportunities to interact with people who are older or younger than they are, which provides a variety of benefits. A grandparent or elderly neighbor can share stories about key historical moments in their lives. A toddler who trips and falls in the supermarket offers the chance for an older child to provide help and comfort. When students feel connected to people of different ages, they gain a more informed perspective about life and their place in the world.
8. Say farewell to frustrating after-school conversations.
“How was your day?”
“What did you do in school?”
This is a typical after-school conversation between traditionally-schooled children and their parents. However, when students attend an online school, this kind of dialogue rarely happens. Instead, children feel more ownership of their education and become more excited to share what they are learning. Parents are more aware of their children’s daily activities, and have less need to ask probing questions about what happened during the school day.
9. “I’m too busy.”
Once school starts, lots of children feel like their free time has disappeared. They spend their days at school, and spend their evenings and weekends doing homework and shuttling around to various activities. It can feel challenging to find time to spend with family and friends, or even have a few minutes to relax. Students in online school have the freedom to create their own schedule, with enough flexibility to honor the things that are important to them. If they want to volunteer at the food bank on Thursday mornings, they can arrange classwork around that. If they want to stay up late with their parents in the local park to see a rare meteor shower, they can sleep in the next day and work on school assignments in the afternoon. What’s important to the individual student takes center stage, and the student no longer needs to adhere to a rigid traditional school schedule.
10. Summer doesn’t have to stop just because the local school district says so.
Families crave summertime memories because they make them feel closer to each other. They get to know each other better by playing games and singing songs during long road trips. They build trust with each other by helping each other learn how to play a new board game, ride a bike, or learn to swim. They experience new people, places, and things together for the first time, creating shared memories—whether it’s the summer blockbuster superhero movie or a breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon. These experiences can continue past the first day of school in the local district. Students who attend online school can take a break from an assignment to help their little brother catch lightning bugs, have a lunchtime picnic in the backyard, or spend the day catching frogs in a nearby creek.
The back-to-school season doesn’t have to mean the same thing for every family. If your family is considering taking a different path for your child’s education, consider the many non-academic rewards of an online school experience. Laurel Springs School has provided families with an exceptional educational experience for more than 25 years. Please contact an admissions coordinator to learn more about our accredited programs.