Cyber School for the Competitive Cheerleader
Each year as parents we have the decision to send our child to brick and mortar school, virtual school, or home school. It can be a tough decision. If time management is an issue, which it can be with competitive sports, then virtual schooling may be an option you might consider for your child.
How exactly does virtual school work? (Note: all information below is based on my daughter’s experience at her virtual school. Other schools may function differently.)
Students are placed into a classroom of approximately 30 children, based on geographical location. Most of the students in a class will be from the same three bordering counties, which makes it great for getting together for lunches, educational outings, or community home school programs. Your child will have a Learning Coach (either mom or dad, grandparent, nanny- whomever you have assist your child). The Learning coach works with your child to navigate the online lessons and then breaks off the computer to assist with the offline activities (worksheets, tests, crafts, science experiments, artwork, etc.). Attendance is logged each day based on hours spent in each subject. In addition to this, your child also has a Teacher through the school who they will meet with multiple times per week via web classroom. Your child will meet with the Teacher (via web classroom) individually, in small groups based on ability, and as a full class. Your child will have many opportunities to get to know his/her classmates through these online class connects and through school-organized field trips. For the younger grades they play games, have show and tell, reading groups, math groups, study groups, and more! In high school, less is done by the Learning Coach and almost all lessons are Teacher guided through class connects. The same high school clubs that exist in brick and mortar are also available at virtual school, with weekly meetings at a designated location.
Curriculum and supplies?
The curriculum is through the online public school and is diverse and challenging. There are many options out there based on your location, such as K12 and Connections Academy. Your child even has the opportunity to start electives in elementary school, including a Foreign Language as early as 3rd grade!
All textbooks, workbooks, and necessary supplies are sent to your home- FREE. This includes art supplies, science supplies, math supplies, and anything your child would need to complete their lessons, aside from pencils, paper, glue, and the normal school supplies you would purchase each year for your child. The school also provides a computer, printer, scanner, antivirus software, and funds towards internet service (some schools require pre-qualifying for electronics and internet subsidy).
Will my child still be able to socialize with other children?
My daughter’s school has two planning calendars- School Calendar and Parent Calendar. Both calendars are FULL of daily outings and field trips that both the school organizes, and parents also organize. My daughter has had the opportunity to travel all over the state visiting museums, science centers, zoos, fairs, and many other educational outings. Several are free through the school and some at a discounted rate and the best part is- the rate usually applies to the whole family and all are invited to attend. The majority of the outings on the Parent Calendar are for lunches or clubs/groups and give the children the opportunity to socialize outside of class connects as both classmates and friends.
How does this benefit cheerleaders?
My daughter has no homework. All of her work is done during her dedicated school hours during the day. This leaves the afternoons and evenings open for cheerleading and the ability to participate in other activities (swimming, equestrian, girl scouts, clubs and more) as well without feeling overwhelmed or over-scheduled. If we have a competition where we need to leave on a Friday, I don’t have to pull her out of school or wait until she is out of school to leave. It has allowed us flexibility with our schedules and more family time. Plus we can always take school on the road by taking our laptop and using a wifi connection. There is also less drama. I don’t have to worry about something that happened at school affecting cheer or vice versa. It gives her a separation from school and sports, which allows her to be able to focus on the task at hand without distraction.
Something new last year, Connections Academy specifically offers a specialty school called the ‘Sports Academy’.
Description from the Connections website:
Connections Academy schools are an incomparable choice for student athletes who require flexible class schedules while at home or on the road. Our Sports Academy connects student-athletes—including promising future Olympians—from across the nation so they can network and collaborate with other exceptional, high-performing athletes. Here, they can share sports training tips, discover strategies to improve sport performance and learn about the journey to becoming an elite athlete. Sports Academy members participate in activities including fitness challenges, sports training workshops and learning labs, mentoring opportunities, virtual interviews, and interacting with professionals in the arena. Previous guest speakers for the Sports Academy have included Greg Louganis, four-time Olympic diving champion, and James Carter, two-time track and field Olympian.
Virtual School may not be for every child or for every family unit, but for us it has been very beneficial and we are very grateful our daughter has this opportunity.
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