Historically, children have been taught mainly in schools, but home schooling has increased lately, with many parents deciding that an education at home will be better for their offspring. With the continuing advance in technology, and the current dissatisfaction with public schools, many parents are opting for online education for their children, even at the elementary school level. But what exactly does this mean? Is there any government control over what is taught? Are there any disadvantages to online education for elementary aged children? These are some of the topics we will discuss further here.
Recently there have been more parents home schooling their children, and this trend is even including elementary school aged children. As a result there are now “virtual” schools for all ages online. What this means is that educational material is provided for the child, and a curriculum has to be followed in a timely manner. However, with the online component becoming more readily available for everyone, the education can be adjusted to take into account the child’s interests, and the child’s personality too. With these adjustments, the child is more likely to learn, because the interest in that topic is already there.
Because of the growth of “virtual” schools, the government is having more input over what is taught at home, but this is often one of the reasons that parents move away from the public school system in the first place! However, the one on one tuition is definitely an improvement over classrooms where the ratio can be one teacher to a class of 25 children or even more.
There is little doubt that a better ratio improves learning for children, but is that all that schools are useful for? No, schools are also a place to socialize, to learn how to treat people of all ages, to learn that in every society there are people different from ourselves, with different ideas, different cultures, but people still worthy of our respect. Schools are not just a place for learning the basic reading and writing, they are also places where students learn to interact with one another, learn to share, respect, listen, play with one another, and these are things that cannot be taught easily over the internet.
Particularly at the elementary school age, children need to be able to play with others, discover things about their worlds that differ from their own. There is great concern that as more and more people switch to online elementary education, our society will lose the ability to interact with people in person. Even nowadays, teenagers spend a great deal of time on cell phones, texting one another, in other words writing to one another, but in abbreviated forms. They are not communicating as much in person any more, and this is a worrying trend. At some stage of their lives, they will need to learn the person skills to interact with others, and it is far easier to learn these at elementary school, than in their twenties when they obtain their first job!
So, yes, online elementary education is good. There are some great programs online, interesting and informative, that children love to do. But care has to be taken to make certain social skills are learnt at home too, the ability to talk to people, other than family, the skills of cooperation with others, etc. These skills must not be lost, or we will end up with a society filled with strangers, whose only source of communication is the internet!