Virtual learning in the home

September 6, 2011 2:02:05 PM PDT
It's a new option for parents who want to home school their children. It's home schooling with a virtual twist.

Back-to-school time at the Henry home means a box of new supplies but the same classroom.

12-year-old Elizabeth and 10-year-old Timothy are students of Connections Academy, a virtual K through 12 public school which is an emerging option for parents who want kids schooled at home, but not necessarily home schooling.

And like a traditional public school, it's free.

Virtual learning has been an option for college students for some time, but younger students thrive with more interaction.

So the Henry kids get time online with certified instructors. Funding comes through federal and state money to local districts, so they need to meet the same requirements as brick-and-mortar classrooms. Adults in the home act as "learning coaches."

It's a partnership Melissa Henry was willing to make, especially for timothy, who struggled in traditional classrooms.

"I wanted the security blanket of making sure i was meeting state requirements, and making sure i was preparing them for life in the future," she said.

Regular field trips to meet teachers and other students are also part of the experience, reinforcing relationships built over virtual connections.