Q&A: If my child isn't excelling in a brick-and-mortar school, would attending an online school be the right solution?

Answer: It depends on what is preventing your child from succeeding in the traditional school setting. Students can have difficulties in any school environment: talking to others at inappropriate times, not completing homework, attendance issues, problems with peers, etc. It's important for parents to understand that these same issues can also be present in an online school setting -- a change in setting may not fix the problem.

Whether a child attends a brick-and-mortar school or a virtual, online school there will be rules and policies to follow. For example, during an online classroom webinar students will still need to refrain from interrupting the teacher (either via posting a message in a chat room or using their microphone). Students will still be required to complete assignments in a timely manner and they may be required to attend a daily or weekly live classroom discussion. Virtual schools may also require students to collaborate with each other on assignments or classroom discussions so getting along with each other will be important.

A parent's first step of action should be to try determining what is causing the child to be unsuccessful in the school before making the transition to a completely new school setting. Is it the classroom environment? Are there social issues? If your child has learning or attention problems, is he or she not getting the needed support? And if your child is gifted, is he or she not challenged enough?

There are, however, many reasons for a parent to choose an online school for their child. A good first step is to have a family discussion about what is in the best interest of the child before making the decision to switch schools. It is possible for some students to succeed more in a traditional school while others may achieve more success in a virtual setting.

Christi WilsonChristi Wilson is a credentialed teacher of highly-gifted students in Northern Nevada. She has 11 years of classroom teaching experience, a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in education leadership, and has even taught K-12 education online. A mother of three busy boys, she knows how important it is to keep students engaged in the classroom and interested in a lifetime of learning.