Students can be especially successful in online 8th grade programs because this is typically the year young people become full-fledged teenagers. If you have been considering online education for your child, take a look at some of the benefits it brings, and what it could mean for your family.
The benefits of online 8th grade programs
Middle school is a time of personal challenges and physical changes, and 8th graders often become more concerned with appearance and peer relationships this year. One of the advantages offered by virtual schools is the chance to focus on studies instead of the social pressures at brick-and-mortar schools.
In addition, the intensity of the online experience may keep "wired" kids on-task and better prepared for the demands of high school. With the enhancements in the delivery of engaging educational content online, students may have more advanced tools at their disposal than they would in some traditional schools.
Another big plus for pursuing an 8th grade online program is the shift in students' body clocks. Many teens show signs of delayed circadian rhythms and aren't sleepy until later at night. It's generally recommended that eighth graders get 9 to 10 hours of sleep to be in top form, but many traditional schools start by 8 a.m., making it difficult for teens to fully recharge. Starting school later in the day may be more in line with teens' natural biorhythms and improve achievement. Online students can start their school day once they are fully alert.
Online 8th grade curriculums
Eighth grade course offerings vary from school to school, and given the interactive nature of the online classroom, coursework can be highly individualized. But among the basic core subjects, there is some uniformity. In language arts, students generally work on persuasive and expository writing skills. Teens build on reading comprehension and more challenging texts, which may include the classics. Math classes tackle harder topics in geometry and algebra concepts. Social studies classes generally focus on U.S. political, economic and social history since the Civil War. Students are expected to relate the past to the present in greater detail. Science at this age is exploratory, and learners may be introduced to topics such as scientific inquiry, technological design, hydrosphere, chemistry, evolution theory and cellular biology.
In all subjects, 8th grade students will be expected to read more challenging texts than in the past. As online students, they are more likely to have choices of what to read, and when. Plus, fully integrated communication tools such as chat, real-time video conferencing and threaded discussions allow students to seek input from teachers and experts as well as exchange ideas with other online 8th grade colleagues.
Online school time commitments
Students can expect to spend about 6 hours a day on classwork, much the same as in a traditional school. The actual coursework may be online or may use some traditional study materials such as worksheets and textbooks. The time that students spend "on-screen" also depends on their interest level and the time needed to master a topic. Generally, online schools require that students dedicate a certain amount of time to their programs.
One big advantage of online learning is the flexibility. Your family can choose a schedule for classes and homework that fits your needs. Most online schools provide 24-7 access to students, all year long.
Parent participation in online 8th grade
If your family chooses individualized online education, you should be able to follow your children's academic progress with greater ease and understanding. Because most of a student's work is captured online, learning strengths and weaknesses can be identified and reported. Instead of a quarterly report card, online schools allow parents to look at results on a day-to-day basis. Routine assessments and robust testing software give real-time appraisals of student work, help identify students' acquired knowledge and trouble areas, and offer review tips and activities.
By taking an interest in your teenagers' online studies and monitoring their progress, you can help set them up for success as they transition to high school and beyond.