Do Strict School Schedules Limit Learning?

For many kids, a rigid schedule is a part of life. Each class follows strict school schedules and learning plans no matter the needs of individual students. But some parents are questioning the benefits of such an inflexible learning environment and are actively seeking alternatives.

According to a study conducted by the National Training Laboratories in 2000, children retain only five percent of what they hear in a lecture. On the contrary, the study found that subject retention increased to 75 percent in flexible classrooms that provide hands-on activities and collaborative environments. When the children shared their new knowledge with other classmates, their retention rate increased to 85 percent.

These statistics indicate a need for revolutionizing the typical classroom environment. Many schools have already started transforming static classrooms into hands-on teaching centers and supplementing students’ education with online courses.

If your child’s school is not offering the approach your child needs, there are alternatives available to you as a parent.

The Benefits of an Individualized Education

An education that is less structured and more individualized not only changes how teachers engage with students, but it also takes a more personalized approach to education. Not every kindergartener is ready to learn to read, but some five-year-olds already are reading chapter books. A less-structured classroom addresses the differing needs of students and provides room for individualized lessons.

Albemarle County Public Schools in Virginia have implemented flexible education in their elementary classrooms. In an interview with, Albemarle teachers said they have noticed improvements in students’ grades, collaboration, participation, happiness, and retention since implementing flexible education.

Other schools have taken a slightly different approach to flexible education by providing students with individualized education using online courses. And while much of the online students’ work remains off-line, parents may be hesitant to give their children any additional screen time. But a 2009 meta-analysis published by the U.S. Department of Education reported that:

“[S]tudents who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.”

Just like the new flexible classrooms in brick-and-mortar schools, the face of online education is adapting. New technologies have allowed online schools to provide hands-on projects in combination with content offered online, often through a blend of video lessons and real-time interaction with teachers. This set-up lends to more open school schedules. Online education is available in three formats:

Online Public Schools

More than 33 states offer a public school education online. These schools are free to parents and offer K12‘s acclaimed K–8 program and high school program providing an individualized educational experience like no other. This schooling differs from traditional schools in that classes do not take place in a building, but rather at home or wherever an Internet connection can be found. Students take courses online with support from their teacher via phone, online web meetings, and sometimes even face to face. Each student will also have a Learning Coach, usually a parent, who assists with the lesson plans and homework.

Online Private Schools

Online private schools are fully accredited, tuition-based, and highly flexible—offering multiple start dates throughout the school year. All offer full-time enrollment for a diploma or enrollment in individual courses to provide families a variety of options. And K12 private schools also provide industry-leading online curriculum with support from teachers as well as academic counselors and coaches to help students reach their full potential.

Online Supplemental Courses

Supplemental courses allow students to add to a traditional brick-and-mortar education (or homeschool education), allowing them to explore a subject further than in a traditional classroom. These courses allow students to learn more about topics such as STEM, language, specialized studies, and career training.


If your child’s school has not yet embraced a more individualized model of education, you may want to think about other options that might better fit the specific needs of your child. An online education may be just what your child needs to excel. Learn more and ask to receive an info kit K12 schools.

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