Originially published to Richmond Times Dispatch- February 13th, 2022
Like most parents, I want to support my children’s passions in every way I can. But when my sixth-grade daughter, Malina, joined the world of gymnastics, I had no idea how much of a time commitment the sport requires. Malina spends hours training after school. This means many late nights — and with six other children at home, Malina’s demanding schedule quickly became too time-consuming.
That is until I discovered online school. After doing some research, I fell in love with the flexibility it offers. And today, Malina’s academic schedule complements her gymnastics schedule. I am very happy we made the decision to switch to the online classroom. Here are four things to think about if you’re considering making the switch, too:
Online school encourages students to pursue their passions
Malina practices gymnastics 26 hours a week at the gym. I’m very grateful her online school is so flexible in allowing her the time to train. For example, Malina has permission to miss live classes and watch class recordings later in the day to better accommodate her gymnastics schedule, if and when it’s necessary.
During a typical week, Malina practices from 8 a.m. to lunchtime. She breaks for classes, and then has two “double days” a week, where she practices again in the afternoon. Online school affords Malina the opportunity to attend additional practices — something she wouldn’t have been able to do at her brick-and-mortar school. I’m thrilled she has the chance to advance her skills as a gymnast without missing critical class time.
Teachers lend their care
I’m an educator by trade, but I often call myself an “edu-carer,” because I know what it is like to be a classroom teacher. I understand the preparation involved in lesson plans, teaching children of various skill levels and administering group collaboration. With that being said, I can really appreciate the detailed approach that online school offers my daughter.
I’m amazed by how frequently the school’s principal, teachers and counselors communicate with Malina. I also receive an abundance of emails about everything impacting the school community, which I really appreciate as a parent, because I like to be informed.
Online school helps students become self-starters
Malina has attended her online school, Virginia Virtual Academy, for three years now. At first, I was apprehensive about Malina continuing online school in middle school, because I was concerned about the new platforms she would have to learn. However, Malina has adapted so quickly, and she’s the one teaching me new skills.
Malina is self-reliant. She knows how to self-test, complete classwork and follow an agenda because she is self-guided throughout the whole process. She is sent an array of helpful links if she is ever stuck with the online class recordings. Her teachers explain everything very clearly.
Learning materials inspire creativity
There is nothing we need to buy for Malina’s classes because the school provides everything. I’m always amazed by the number of materials: workbooks, supplemental reading books, globes, maps, art supplies. The list is endless. I don’t even need to bother shopping or going to the library. Every subject is covered.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Malina’s favorite subject is science. Science kits are sent to students with instructions on how to follow along with teachers. Malina is so excited to create new things and conduct experiments. This interactive part of the learning experience is integral to her overall academic growth.
I often remind my daughter that she is a student-athlete, which means she is a student first and an athlete second. I’m so proud that Malina can excel at both roles with the help of online school. If you’re thinking of making the switch, I hope you’ll consider my family’s incredible experience and make it your reality.
To learn more about Virginia Virtual Academy, visit www.vava.com