Taking the Stress Out of Homeschooling During Crisis

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With the recent worldwide pandemic, many parents are more concerned than ever about their children’s health and welfare while attending school in-person. Enlightium Academy, a private Christian online school that has gained valuable experience in teaching online courses since 2003, was able to seamlessly support many displaced students during the pandemic and other crises. Partnering with Enlightium Academy in educating your students can be easier than you think!

False Assumptions about Homeschooling

If you are new to homeschooling, you may be worried about backlash from family members and neighbors who may feel you are doing your children an injustice. For decades, homeschooling has represented the ultimate expression of parental authority in a child’s education. Evidence shows that the homeschooling population continues to grow and now includes about 2.3 million students1. The road to homeschooling has been paved by homeschool advocates, making it easier than ever before.

Homeschooling is Easier than Ever

Today, all 50 states permit homeschooling, as stated by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association2Homeschooling parents who live in a state where homeschool regulations are strict can utilize an online education from home to minimize the burden of record-keeping. Notably, online homeschooling is a simpler, easier option for new homeschoolers to fulfill homeschool state requirements.

Online Program as a Homeschool Option

K-12 online learning has evolved from the long history of distance education, and now it is one of the fastest-growing options for education in America. In 2010, there were 1,816,400 enrollments in distance education. In 2016, there were 4,750,000 full-time online K-12 students. The numbers continue to grow beyond 10% of the total K-12 student population3. Online learning has gained popularity for advanced learners, students at-risk, and minority students4. One of the main benefits of online learning is that students can still take advantage of unique course offerings often not possible with traditional homeschooling, such as specialized programs, foreign language courses, honors courses, Concurrent Credits (which allows students the opportunity to earn college credits while enrolled in high school), Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and NCAA courses for athletes.

Similar to a traditional school, online students are assigned to certified teachers who are responsible for reporting academic achievement, providing supplemental instruction, conducting assessments, and evaluating the students’ work and progress. This helps relieve the burden of teaching and recordkeeping for parents and allows them to act as learning coaches. They are freed up to provide their child with instructional support and help them with time management. Parental support includes helping define educational aspirations, implementing future plans for their children, making educational decisions, providing support with school work, and participating in school activities. In addition to easing the parental burden of homeschooling, teachers also provide many benefits for online students.

The Teacher-Student Interaction in an Online Setting

Online teachers use technology in creative ways to replace brick-and-mortar school settings, such as instant messaging, discussion boards, blogs, and video conferencing platforms5. The most commonly known online school benefits are6

  1. Enhanced communication. Students feel more empowered to share their ideas and are less afraid to pose questions to teachers. They interact with others with fewer concerns about personal differences. 
  2. Accommodations of different learning styles. Materials can be presented in different ways that benefit students with attention deficit disorder or students who suffer from anxiety. Also, students may get more one-on-one attention than when they are in a classroom setting. Homeschooling
  3. Unlimited access to curriculum and instruction. Accessibility of curriculum and instruction at any place and time of day gives students freedoms that are unavailable in a brick-and-mortar school.
  4. Frequent assessment. Immediate feedback allows instructors to change their delivery of content, as well as highlight the weaknesses and strengths of students.
  5. Access to teachers. Online learning allows a student anywhere in the world to connect with their instructors. 

Student Attendance in an Online Setting

In traditional school settings, attendance requirements mandate that students are in school, for example, for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, and a minimum of 180 school days. This adds up to about 1,050 instructional hours per academic year. In an online school setting, the attendance policy simply requires that students log on, complete lessons, and attend classes by progressing in their school work. Because students learn from and within their environment, a student must be present in an online environment to successfully progress through the curriculum. This progress serves as a measure of attendance, similar to the measure of seat-time in brick-and-mortar school settings7

With all the support students receive from an online teacher, it’s no wonder that their outcomes are positively impacted by homeschooling online. Notably, online students learn material between 30 and 50 percent faster and retain in post-testing about 30 percent more than do students in traditional lecture methods8. A study by Ray (2017) reported that students who were homeschooled for one year or less scored, on average, in the 59th percentile, and students who were homeschooled for two or more years scored, on average, between the 86th and 92nd percentile in academic achievement9. There are also opportunities for students to grow socially and emotionally while learning online. Regardless of which school a parent selects for their child, parental support in the form of involvement is an integral part of any conducive learning environment.

Support for Social and Emotional Learning in an Online Setting

The critics of homeschooling argue that homeschooled students are socially delayed due to an inability to socialize with other students. However, modern-day online homeschooling allows students to socialize face-to-face via group video sessions10. Online education reinforces the five core social-emotional learning competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making11. Moreover, researchers identified nine constructs that relate to students’ well-being and academic success with their connection with the online school: (1) academic engagement, (2) belonging, (3) discipline/fairness, (4) extracurricular activities, (5) school enjoyment, (6) student's voice, (7) peer relations, (8) safety, and (9) teacher-support12. By implementing these tools, online students are provided with opportunities to practice and grow their social and emotional learning. Many online schools provide some of these options, but there’s one that provides them all.

Furthermore, online homeschooling returns control to parents to make intentional decisions about the communities and social spheres with which their child will interact. The flexibility of a virtual, asynchronous program makes it possible for the student to participate in community groups such as their local church, 4-H, or Boy Scouts of America, as well as take part in the arts, sports, and community service. Contrary to the belief of homeschooling critics, research shows that homeschool students often engage with a more diverse social sphere than their peers in brick-and-mortar schools, leading to a more well-rounded social development13.

How Enlightium Academy Can Assist You with Homeschooling Your Child

Enrolling your student at Enlightium Academy can provide you, as a parent, the opportunity to support your student alongside professional teachers, guidance counselors, and support specialists. Parents and guardians have access to Enlightium Academy’s Parent Orientation shortly after enrolling. The Parent Orientation includes:

To assist students with onboarding, the Enlightium team developed a Student Orientation which allows them to navigate through Ignitia, the online learning platform used at Enlightium, as well as providing information on how to interact with teachers, our online resources, and more. The Student Orientation is assigned shortly before starting courses.

Curious about how easy and stress-free an online Christian education can be?

Please visit us at EnlightiumAcademy.com or call (866) 488-4818. We’re an accredited, alternative online education option for homeschoolers. Enlightium Academy is a private Christian school. We offer a Bible-based, flexible, and affordable education. Our curriculum meets all accreditation and state educational requirements. We are here to make homeschooling easy for you during this unprecedented time of crisis.

 

References:

  1.  Brian, D. (April, 2018). Homeschooling Growing: Multiple Data Points Show Increase 2012 to 2016 and Later. National Home Education Research Institute. Retrieved from https://www.nheri.org/homeschool-population-size-growing

  2.  Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), State Homeschooling laws. Retrieved from http://hslds.org/laws/default.asp

  3.  Bausell, S. (2016). From the editorial board: Virtual charter schools: Where did all the children go? The High School Journal, 99(2), 109-112. 

  4.  Curtis, H. & Werth, L. (2015). Fostering student success and engagement in a K-12 Online School. Journal of Online Learning Research, 1(2), 163-190.

  5.  Nolan, A. W. (2016). The social and emotional learning and character education of K-12 online students: Teacher perspective. (Doctoral dissertation). ProQuest 10144133.

  6.  Hassel, B. C., & Terrell, M. G. (2009). How can virtual schools be a vibrant part of meeting the choice provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act? Retrieved from http://www.doe.virginia.gov/federal_programs/esea/title1/part_a/archive/how_can_virtual_schools.

  7.  Archambault, L., Kennedy, K., & Bender, S. (2013). Cyber-truancy: Addressing issues of attendance in the digital age. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 46(1), 1-28. doi:10.1080/15391523.2013.10782611

  8.  Keengwe, J., Onchwari, G., & Agamba, J. (2014). Promoting effective E-learning practices through the constructivist pedagogy. Education and Information Technologies, 19(4), 887-898. doi:10.1007/s10639-013-9260-1

  9.  Ray, B. (2017). A review of research on homeschooling and what might educators learn? Pro-Posições, 28(2), 85-103.

  10.  Davis, A. (2011). Evolution of homeschooling. Distance Learning, 8(2), 29-35.

  11.  Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students' social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405-432. \

  12.  Libbey, H. (2004). Measuring student relationships to school: Attachment, bonding, connectedness, and engagement. The Journal of School Health, 74(7), 274-83. \

  13.  Medlin, R. (2000). Home Schooling and the Question of Socialization. Journal of Education, 75(1/2), 107-123. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/1493091

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