Virtual School vs Homeschool vs Remote Learning: Here's the Difference

Virtual School vs Homeschool vs Remote Learning: Which Is Right for Your Student?

virtual school vs homeschool vs remote learning

Navigating the options of schooling during a global pandemic can be challenging. With so many options of virtual school vs homeschool vs remote learning things can get confusing very quickly. 

Several parents, teachers, and school leaders are probably wondering which option is the right choice and what learning environment will yield the best results for students. 

While there is still much work to be done for schools to implement the best virtual learning environment, here are the major components of each and how virtual online schooling differs from remote learning and homeschooling.

Virtual School vs. homeschool

What is virtual school?

Virtual schooling also known as online schools are educational institutions where the curriculum is provided 100% online.  With online schools, public or private, the structured curriculum is managed by teachers and in accordance with state requirements. Parents can serve as learning coaches but they do not serve as the teacher.

Public virtual schools offer free online education and are taught by certified teachers for the specifically trained for each grade level. Students will participate in state testing during online school and the school still has to follow school board guidelines to adhere to the total hours and days of instruction required.

Both public and private online schools must also keep records of transcripts, report cards, and credits. If you are concerned about attendance with virtual schooling for your child, attendance is of utmost importance.

Online schools maintain regularly scheduled class time similar to public schools. As the instruction is delivered online only, regular attendance is required and teachers must keep records of unexcused absences.

Virtual online schools are often great for students who need flexibility in their schedule due to heavy athletics participation, arts or other life events that require them to be away from the traditional brick and mortar school environment.

Virtual school also requires a tremendous amount of self-motivation from the student due to the lack of oversight. Without close monitoring by the teacher or learning coach, students may quickly fall behind. 

What is homeschool?

Unlike online school, homeschool is when the parents act as full time instructors and serve as the teacher.  Parents may choose to purchase or personally create the curriculum for the student; however the parent or guardian is ultimately responsible for administering the lessons. This also includes awarding an official homeschool diploma.

State requirements for homeschool vary, so conducting thorough research is a vital part of this step if you are leaning towards homeschooling your student. Once your research is complete, the curriculum must be approved by your state in accordance with your student’s grade level.

When homeschooling, the parent decides the flow and schedule of the school day. Parents often love this flexibility because they are acutely aware of how their child learns best.

With homeschooled students, there is also the freedom to incorporate faith-based learning contrary to public schools whose religion does not influence the curriculum. Progress reports and grades are solely managed and tracked by parents during homeschooling. 

Is online school considered homeschool?

Online school is not considered homeschool. While there are online homeschool programs, to avoid confusion this is not the same as an online school. The parent is ultimately responsible for delivering the materials to the student during homeschool whereas certified teachers are responsible during online school. 

Some online homeschool programs however are available to assist the parent with curriculum creation, pacing, and reporting. 

Homeschool vs. Public School

So which option is the best for your student?

This will depend on the parent’s level of comfort with taking 100% responsibility for their child’s curriculum and schooling. A recent trend due to the global pandemic has prompted a homeschooling boom and some parents have initiated their own homeschooling groups while sharing the teaching responsibility. 

If you are concerned about a lack of social interaction with homeschooling, some public schools allow students who are homeschooled to participate in extracurricular activities. Check the local schools in your neighborhood for options.

Virtual School vs. Remote learning: What’s the Difference?

Contrary to what some believe, remote learning and online learning are not the same. The biggest difference between virtual school and distance learning is the amount and preparation and how the lessons are administered.

Remote Learning 

Remote learning, which most of the current U.S. schools are undergoing, involves learning from home via internet connection for more flexibility while removing the commute to brick and mortar school locations.  Remote learning, also called distance learning, still has structured class times, and teachers administrator the lessons through a particular conferencing software. 

For virtual schools, online courses are tactfully planned and prepared months in advance to ensure complete development while protocols are put in place for engagement and support. Online learning also involves modules and assessments based on real-world situations while incorporating discussion forums as well. 

Final Thoughts 

There are many reasons why homeschooling is picking up popularity especially given the circumstances of the current global pandemic. Ultimately your first step is to research state law to ensure that your student is set up for success. 

While the 100% online virtual school option may seem tempting, parents and schools also have to remember this requires a significant amount of self-motivation from students. 

And while some parents may feel as if they are homeschooling their children, it is important to fully understand the difference. Naturally parental involvement has increased, although this is not the same as homeschooling, and schools are currently thrusted into emergency distance learning vs. fully prepared virtual school online programs. 

If you are looking to improve your school performance, contact us and schedule a call for a clear strategy. 



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