Families who are looking for a free homeschooling curriculum may turn to publicly funded virtual schools or cyber schools.
Virtual schools are charter school at home programs that are funded by tax dollars. Because these programs are publicly funded, they can provide students with free computers, software, internet access, textbooks and other resources.
Students who use cyberschools are considered public school students. Their coursework is directed by certified public school teachers who supervise their students’ progress through the use of testing, teleconferencing, e-mail and coursework reviews.
Two well known providers of public school at home programs are K-12 and Connections Academy.
Advantages of Virtual Schools
Virtual school programs allow families to take advantage of the benefits of home education without adding a financial burden. They also provide the structure and support many parents desire, and eliminate the responsibility for choosing curriculum, designing lesson plans and supervising coursework.
Cyber schools also provide children with an accredited diploma that is the same as those received by students in traditional public schools. In addition, some programs schedule field trips and other social activities for their students.
Disadvantages of Home Based Charter Schools
Because cyber school is essentially public school in the home, parents may not have the flexibility to tailor the curriculum and teaching methods to meet their child’s needs. Decisions are made by teachers and carried out by parents, leaving parents with little say as to how their children are instructed and what they are taught. Some programs even place restrictions on use of religious materials.
Virtual school students are also subject to government regulations above and beyond that required of independent homeschoolers. Depending on the state’s requirements, students may be required to submit to standardized testing and interviews by school officials.
Some homeschooling advocates fear widespread participation in home based charter schools will blur the distinction between public and private education. They believe use of government programs may lead to increased regulation and oversight of independent home schools.
Although virtual schools give many parents the confidence they need to homeschool their children, these programs are not without their costs.
Parents who desire structure may want to consider using a complete home curriculum such as A Beka, Bob Jones, ACE or Alpha Omega. Parents who are concerned about the cost of home education can take advantage of the many free homeschooling curricula that can be found in their local library or online.