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What is the Difference Between Homeschool and Online Private School?

Updated: May 24


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Since covid-19, discussions around homeschooling and online schooling have become increasingly common. Compared to traditional schooling options, these alternatives are characterized by flexibility, individualized learning, and the possibility to adjust the curriculum to the child's interests and needs. Although they are similar, there are some notable distinctions between homeschooling and online middle school or online high school.


What Curriculum Do Most Homeschoolers Use?

When it comes to homeschooling, homeschoolers have the freedom to choose their middle school homeschool curriculum or high school homeschool curriculum based on their child's learning style and needs. However, there are some popular homeschooling methods used by most families. These include:


1. Traditional Method: This is the most common approach wherein the lesson plans and teaching methods largely resemble a standard high school or middle school curriculum. This approach is also what many of the best online high schools and online middle schools do.


2. Unit Study Method: This method involves breaking down every subject into multiple units. A variety of academic subjects are integrated while exploring a specific chosen topic or subject area, which helps provide students with an in-depth understanding of the subject.


3. Charlotte Mason Method: Based on the ideas of British educator Charlotte Mason, this method is based on the belief that the child is an individual and unique person and we must educate the whole person, not just the mind. This is a 3-pronged approach to education that involves teaching new and novel ideas, cultivating good habits, and creating an atmosphere in the home that is conducive to learning and exploration.


4. Unschooling Method: Unschooling is a style of home education that is driven by a student’s interests and passions. There is no defined curriculum, but rather, unschoolers trust children to gain knowledge organically. This style of learning is tailored to the needs of each child and is considered highly iterative and experimental.


What is the Most Popular Homeschool Method?

The most popular homeschooling method is the Traditional Method. In a survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, the Traditional Method was used by 67% of families, the Unit Study method was next at 19%, 16% used the Charlotte Mason method, and 10% did Unschooling.


What is the Hardest Part of Homeschooling?

Homeschooling definitely has its challenges, and one of the trickiest aspects is effectively balancing the roles of parent and teacher. Properly homeschooling a child typically requires a lot of time to organize lessons, plan lectures, and manage educational instruction and milestones. Another challenge is the parent’s own lack of knowledge on certain topics or subjects, which may create imposter syndrome or result in the child developing a lopsided skillset. Finally, homeschooling can be quite isolating for both the child and parent. The social element of traditional schooling is missing and it can take some work to try to recreate a similar scenario, for example, by pulling in other homeschooling families and creating a mini educational community.



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What is a Benefit to Going to School Online?

While both homeschooling and online schooling offer the flexibility and personalized learning that traditional schooling may not provide, there are several benefits to attending school online over both traditional and homeschool options, including:


1. Flexibility: The possibility of learning online provides a student with both more flexibility and independence than is offered by traditional schooling. Many of the best online high schools and online middle schools enable students to be located anywhere, to have self-paced education, and to tailor the classwork around their schedules or individual needs. For example, students who live in districts with poor public schools and prohibitively expensive private schools may find online schooling a superior choice. Another common use case is student athletes, who need to travel to meets and competitions frequently and who may find traditional schooling unaccommodating in this regard.


2. Personalized Learning: Another benefit of online learning is that it has the potential to be highly customizable and tailored, especially as compared to traditional schooling. The rich individuality of each student is a mixture of particular strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and ways of learning. Students in the traditional classroom often have huge class sizes and strict directives from higher ups which results in a cookie cutter, one-size fits all approach that leaves many students feeling left out. On the flipside, online schooling allows the student to take their education into their own hands and tailor it in a more personalized way.


3. Wide Range of Course Selection: Many online course providers boast of more breadth of courses compared to the best accredited homeschool programs and traditional schools. While online schooling isn’t as freewheeling as homeschooling curriculum, it does provide a massive number of live and recorded lectures and courses which students can pick and choose based on their interests and passions. Furthermore, as compared to homeschools, these courses are all taught by subject matter experts who will ensure your child gets a world class education.


4. Quality Education: Accredited online private schools provide a high-quality education that is on par and often better than traditional schools. Online schools have access to a more extensive range of resources and technologies, they are updated more frequently, allowing for a more comprehensive and in-depth learning experience. Additionally, online schools often have experienced and qualified teachers who are experts in their field, providing students with high-quality instruction and support throughout their education.


5. Technology Skills: One of the most significant benefits of attending school online is the opportunity to develop essential technology skills. In today's digital age, proficiency in technology is essential. Online schooling requires students to use various virtual tools and platforms, such as video conferencing, online learning platforms, and digital resources. By being exposed to these technologies, students can develop skills that are necessary for success in higher education and the workforce.


6. Cost-Effective: Online schooling can be a more cost-effective option compared to traditional schooling. With traditional schooling, families often have to incur transportation costs, such as fuel and parking fees, as well as other expenses like textbooks and school supplies. Online schooling eliminates the need for transportation, as students can attend classes from the comfort of their homes. Additionally, online schools may offer more affordable tuition rates compared to traditional private schools, making it a more accessible option for families.


7. Preparation for College/University: While traditional schooling is often too rigid and doesn’t prepare students for the flexibility of college, homeschooling is often too unstructured, and students may find the formality and routine of university stifling. However, online school provides a base level of structure while also giving students enough freedom and flexibility to ensure they develop into responsible, self-motivated adults who are ready for college.

 

Is Online School Better for Mental Health?

For many students, online schooling is a superior option for mental health versus either homeschool or online private school. Homeschooling can create an over-reliance on a child’s relationship with their parent, leaving that child lost and confused when they enter college and are forced to socialize with the wider world. Traditional schooling is a decent fit for many, but can be horrible for mental health for students who are very anxious or introverted, are neurodivergent, or those who are targets or victims of bullying. Essentially, if you’re not a fit for the one-size fits all cookie cutter model offered by traditional schooling, it can feel restrictive, draining, and corrosive to one’s mental health. The greater ability to choose one’s own schedule, pace, and coursework in online schooling can not only lead to a sense of greater control and wellbeing for students, but can allow them to customize their education so that their mental health is optimized.


Factors to Consider Before Enrolling in an Online School

Before enrolling in an online school, there are some factors to consider to ensure that it is the right fit for your child. These include:


1. Accreditation: Accreditation is mandatory if an online middle school or online high school is to be of any value at all since it ensures the curriculum is of a high quality and that your degree will be accepted by other educational institutions.


2. Technology Requirements: At a bare minimum, it’s essential to own a computer and have a stable internet connection to be qualified to join an online school. Be sure to see to it that you know the technical requirements of the program and that your child has the required technological tools to start.


3. Support: Consider a child’s social and emotional needs and ensure they will be able to get those through the online school. This may take the place of additional 1-on-1 instruction outside the main classes, extracurricular activities, or student support or study groups.


4. Cost: Especially if you are budget constrained, it’s worth analyzing the full cost of online education to ensure it’s within your price range.


5. Flexibility: Online learning provides students with flexibility, but it is essential to ensure your child will learn best in such an environment. Some children may perform better in a more structured environment. Assessing the individual needs of your child is important.


6. Curriculum: Study the course outlines of the online middle school or online high school and make sure that the courses being offered appeal to your child’s interests. Some online schools allow more freedom to craft your desired curriculum versus others, so make sure you do your research.


Learn More About ICL Academy

In conclusion, homeschooling and online schooling can each offer unique benefits over traditional schooling with online schooling providing more structure, experienced teachers, and potential mental health benefits. 


ICL Academy is an independently accredited online private school, providing an innovative model of education for grades 5-12. Based on a personalized learning approach, with experienced teachers and a diversity of students from across the globe, ICL Academy prepares students to succeed in today's fast paced world. Learn more about ICL Academy’s online private school today.


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