Over the course of the last year, it has become clear that going back to “normal” in a post-pandemic world isn’t going to happen any time soon. Instead, there will be a new normal—one that is difficult to prepare for without the help of a crystal ball. While change can be scary at first, many families have enthusiastically embraced the concept of “out with the old and in with the new” when it comes to their child’s education, particularly as it relates to online learning.
Here are a few things we have learned from the past year through this pandemic and why going back to the old normal may be the wrong move for your child’s education.
1) The “COVID-Slide” does not apply to every student.
At the beginning of the pandemic, educators and families worried about learning loss, which was deemed the “COVID-slide.” According to the data that is currently available, that was a founded fear—but not for all students. Virtual learners with Stride K12 have either maintained or grown academically.
2) Socialization can be creative.
As we’ve seen with Zoom birthday parties and socially distanced outdoor get-togethers emerging, socialization has moved beyond its traditional definition. For students who are learning online, there are multiple ways for them to connect with their peers and instructors, whether it is through club meetings or one-on-one conferences. In many ways, this has also led to more flexibility. Students who physically live far apart can digitally come together online.
At Stride K12, students can connect with each other by joining one of the many different clubs or connecting with other families in their area. There are numerous ways to stay connected with their peers, to build friendships, and to engage in hobbies and other special interests (such as Stride’s Esports League) or other extracurricular activities.
3) Not all online schools are the same.
As many families can attest to from the past year, not all online school experiences are the same. The abrupt switch to distance learning revealed the importance of attending an online school with experienced instructors and staff members.
Stride K12 has been providing high quality online education to students for over 20 years, and in that time, has served over one million students. The curriculum is built effectively for virtual learning, with certified and experienced teachers; and according to a recent study, 94% of families agree that the instructional materials work well for learning in an online/virtual setting.
4) Families have refocused on the importance of time togetherness.
For many busy families, the amount of time they were all able to spend together was limited with kids at school all day and parents at work. As many jobs have transitioned to remote work and school was brought home, increased flexibility in terms of daily schedules has meant more opportunities to spend time together as a family. Many parents have seen what it can mean to spend more time watching their kids grow as students and as people.
Many families have chosen to use this flexibility to take impromptu family vacations, explore museums, have intentional time and conversations during lunch breaks, and build other precious and priceless memories that they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to create.
5) Health is a priority, including your child’s.
As many researchers have pointed out and parents have noticed, the pandemic has negatively affected many students’ physical and mental health. Fortunately, by shifting to an online school, it’s possible to provide the support that kids need to lead healthy lives. Not only does this format help avoid issues like bullying and the physical effects of traditional brick-and-mortar schooling like carting heavy textbooks around, but it also enables parents to take a more active role in their kids’ lives by monitoring their nutrition and motivating them to get outside.
Kids certainly aren’t the only ones who have experienced health issues in the last year. Prioritizing health for the whole family can be a way to support one another while also being accountable for health-related decisions.
6) School Choice is important to every family.
One thing this pandemic has taught us is that no family is exempt from needing educational options for their child. Families’ choices in schooling are no longer limited to students either attending the public school they are zoned for or paying for a private education. Many types of learners are well-suited to thrive in the online classroom, and these students can benefit from experienced instructors and more flexibility by attending a public school online.
Andrew Campanella, an award-winning author and the president of National School Choice Week, has explained why the education system should not be based on a ‘one size fits all’ model and should instead focus on how each learner is unique.
7) Virtual learning has boosted parental involvement in their child’s educational process.
Many parents are familiar with the experience of asking how their kids’ day at school was and only receiving a one-word response like “fine” or “good” in return. Now that students are learning at home, though, that has often changed. Rather than relying on one-word answers and occasional emails or calls from instructors, parents are now able to witness their kids’ learning first-hand.
With the flexibility now of many jobs offering remote options, this has created the ability for more students to be able to enroll in online schools. Parents can become more involved with their child’s education by becoming a Learning Coach, opening the door to more awareness of and contribution to their child’s educational journey.
8) The future of the workforce is changing, and so should our students’ preparation for it.
In an evolving work environment, learners need to be #FutureBuilt and ready for the workplace that is changing as a result of this pandemic. Stride Career Prep offers skills development and career pathway exploration that equips and empowers these students to be ready.
9) Stretchy Pants are awesome. You know who you are.
In all seriousness, there is definitely a benefit that many families have not experienced quite as chaotic of a morning routine getting ready for work and school since being home during the pandemic. Being able to be more casual in the start to each day helps with moods, stress, and the ability to focus on the tasks of the day ahead.
If you are exploring educational options for your child’s school year, consider discovering a Stride K12-powered online school in your area that is best suited for your child’s learning needs.