The education landscape is rapidly evolving, with online private schooling emerging as a viable and often preferred option for many families. Online private schools like ICL Academy are at the forefront of this change, offering flexibility, personalized learning, and access to a diverse curriculum. However, enrolling your child in an online private school is a significant decision that requires careful consideration. This article will explore the essential factors parents should consider before choosing an online private school for their child.
Understanding Your Child’s Learning Style
The first step in considering an online private school is to understand your child’s learning style. Online learning often requires a degree of independence and self-motivation. It is essential to assess whether your child thrives in a more structured environment or if they are comfortable managing their learning pace. Some children excel in the online environment due to its self-paced nature, while others might find it challenging without the physical presence of a teacher.
Identifying your child’s learning style is a crucial step before enrolling them in an online private school like ICL Academy. There are three primary learning styles that are frequently referenced: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. These styles can be assessed via a variety of tests and assessments such as this one from the Learning Style Quiz site. However, in addition to the big three styles, there are a few more that provide a fuller picture. The complete list is here:
Visual Learners: These learners prefer to see and observe things, including pictures, diagrams, written directions, and more. They tend to think in images and often benefit from visual aids. In an online environment, visual learners may thrive with courses that offer plenty of videos, infographics, and other visual content.
Auditory Learners: Auditory learners prefer listening and may learn best through lectures, discussions, and verbal instructions. They might prefer to read text aloud and use mnemonic devices. Online private schooling can benefit auditory learners if it includes interactive lectures, discussions, and audio resources.
Kinesthetic/Tactile Learners: These learners prefer a hands-on approach and learn best through doing. They enjoy physical activities and building things and may struggle with sitting still for long periods. Online private schooling can be challenging for kinesthetic learners; however, courses that incorporate interactive simulations, experiments, and require building or creating can be quite beneficial.
Reading/Writing Learners: This group prefers learning through written words. They enjoy reading and writing and excel in processing information through these activities. They typically do well in traditional and online schooling environments that have a strong focus on reading assignments and written projects.
Logical (Mathematical) Learners: These learners thrive on using logic, reasoning, and systems. They enjoy working with numbers, patterns, and abstract visual information. Logical learners can excel in an online environment that offers challenging problem-solving tasks and analytical projects.
Social (Interpersonal) Learners: These learners prefer to learn in groups or with other people. They benefit from social interactions and discussions. While online learning might seem isolating, social learners can still thrive if the school offers collaborative projects, discussion forums, and group activities.
Solitary (Intrapersonal) Learners: These learners prefer to work alone and use self-study. They are self-motivated and highly independent, making them well-suited for the flexibility and independence of online learning.
Of the various learning styles, reading/writing learners, visual learners, and solitary learners often find online learning environments suitable as these formats cater to their strengths in reading, visual processing, and independent study. Auditory learners and logical learners can also excel in online learning, especially if the courses offer rich audio content and logical problem-solving activities.
Kinesthetic learners might find online learning more challenging due to the lack of physical activity and hands-on experiences. However, innovative online programs incorporating interactive activities can help bridge this gap. Social learners might miss the face-to-face interaction of traditional classrooms. However, online schools that offer group projects and interactive forums can provide a platform for these learners to engage and collaborate with others.
Evaluating the School’s Accreditation and Curriculum
When considering an online private school like ICL Academy, it is crucial to evaluate the school’s accreditation. Accreditation ensures that the school meets certain educational standards and that your child will receive a quality education recognized by colleges and universities. Additionally, explore the school's curriculum to ensure it aligns with your child's educational needs and interests. A good online private school should offer a range of courses, including standard, honors, and Advanced Placement (AP) options. In addition to these, you should ensure that your desired online private school has at least one of the following accreditations from a regional accreditation body:
Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA-CESS)
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), part of Cognia
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), also part of Cognia
Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
Technology and Learning Resources
The effectiveness of an online education largely depends on the technology and resources the school uses. Check the technology requirements of the online private school and ensure that you have the necessary equipment and internet reliability. Furthermore, consider the learning resources the school provides, such as digital textbooks, interactive learning tools, and support materials. A school that invests in the latest educational technology can provide a more engaging and effective learning experience. Some examples of cutting edge technologies you should inquire about are learning management systems such as Canvas or Blackboard, interactive whiteboards and smartboards, AR and VR technology, collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams or Google Workspace for Education, digital Libraries and e-textbooks, and educational apps and games.
Socialization and Extracurricular Activities
A common concern about online private schooling is the opportunity for socialization. Look into how the school facilitates social interaction among students. This can include virtual clubs, online forums, group projects, and even in-person meetups or events. Online private schools like ICL Academy often have robust systems in place to ensure students have ample opportunities to interact and develop socially.
Quality of Educational Materials
You should ask to see a sample curriculum for the grade you are applying for as well as the grades above and below. For a specific grade, the curriculum will outline the key learning objectives, essential skills to be developed, and major topics covered in each subject. For example, a 7th-grade curriculum might detail pre-algebra concepts in Math, life science topics in Science, and literature study in English. Is it just busy work or is the content rigorous and high quality? In addition, you should look for reviews or feedback from current or former students and parents regarding the curriculum's effectiveness and how well it prepares students for the next academic levels.
Flexibility and Personalization
One of the significant benefits of online private schooling is flexibility. Assess how flexible the school’s program is in terms of scheduling and pacing. Some online private schools offer asynchronous learning, where students can access and complete their work at any time. Others may have a more structured schedule with live classes. Additionally, consider how the school personalizes learning. Personalized education plans can greatly enhance your child’s learning experience, catering to their strengths and addressing their weaknesses.
Support Services and Teacher Accessibility
Support services are vital in an online private school environment. Look into the type of academic support the school offers, such as tutoring, counseling, and college preparation services. Teacher accessibility is also crucial. Inquire about the student-to-teacher ratio and how teachers interact with students. An online private school with a low ratio and accessible, responsive teachers can significantly enhance the online learning experience. In addition, you should inquire about the retention rate of the teachers. Having new blood is a good thing, but high turnover is not.
Parental Involvement and Oversight
Parental involvement can be more intensive in an online private schooling environment. Understand the level of involvement required from you and whether you have the time and resources to provide the necessary support. Some online private schools offer parent portals where you can track your child’s progress and communicate with teachers.
Assessing Cost and Value
Evaluate the cost of the online private school and what you get for your investment. While some online private schools are more affordable than traditional private schools, others may have additional costs like technology fees or materials. Consider the value the school offers in terms of its academic program, technology, support services, and college preparation.
Choosing an online private school like ICL Academy for your child is a decision that should be made after thorough consideration of various factors. It's about finding a balance between academic rigor, flexibility, social opportunities, and the overall support the school offers. By carefully weighing these considerations, parents can make an informed decision that aligns with their child’s needs and ensures a rewarding and comprehensive educational experience. If you want to learn more about ICL Academy to see if it meets your criteria for a high quality online private school, click here to learn more.