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Questions to Ask When Choosing a Cyber Charter School

CCA student and her mom working on her schoolwork

If you aren’t happy with your child’s school, you don’t have to put up with it.  High-quality public schooling at no cost to families is as close as your dining room table, or spare bedroom, or any other internet-connected space in your home. 

It’s called cyber charter school, but because it’s still relatively new, many parents share common questions about cyber school. Even those who have decided to try online learning still need to choose which school, so they want to know the questions to ask a school before enrolling. That’s smart thinking, because the right fit is crucial to success. CCA, where learning is personalized to every student, is ready with key questions and answers to help you make the right cyber school choice.

1. How Do Scheduling and Time Management Work for Online Schools?

This is one of the most important questions to ask a cyber charter school, because online schooling frees families from the rigid schedules of brick-and-mortar schools. Technology makes it possible by delivering learning in courses that students can take in real time with their teachers and classmates, or later, by viewing the recording. 

Online school students can work at their own pace. If they struggle with a subject, they can take the time to understand each concept before moving to the next. Those who need additional challenges can complete their work quickly, leaving time to expand their learning and pursue topics of personal interest. 

Each cyber school family shapes a daily and  weekly schedule to suit their lifestyle and values. Consider these sample CCA school days at different grade levels.

  • Fourth grader: In the morning and midmorning, coursework followed by a snack and outdoor games. In the afternoon and midafternoon, a Spanish live lesson, and then playing with Legos or reading comics. In the evening, attending a Coding and Computers Club meeting. After dinner, state history coursework.
  • Seventh grader: In the morning and midmorning, science coursework, followed by teaching youth karate lessons. In the afternoon and midafternoon, a field trip and then a language arts live lesson. In the early evening, there’s social studies coursework, followed by a Girl Scouts meeting after dinner.
  • 11th grader: Morning and midmorning, physical therapy after breakfast, followed by Introduction to Coding coursework. Afternoon and midafternoon, there are figure skating lessons, and then work on student projects. After dinner, there’s coursework for the Honors Calculus class.  

2. What Resources Are Available for Cyber School Families?

Families switching from brick-and-mortar schools to cyber learning face a transition period. As with any change, there will be unfamiliar procedures and even new terms common to cyber school communities. 

Your questions about school will certainly want to look at whether you’ll have the help that’s crucial to succeeding in this new venture. At CCA, the answer is yes. Supports start with building teamwork and family relationships. Parents are integral to the learning process, and teachers work closely with them to create strong support systems. 

From there, CCA’s Family Services Department houses the full range of supports that families need. Its three-pronged approach offers services suited to the unique needs of CCA families.

  • Ongoing training: From Great Start Orientations to seasonal workshops to weekly online Q&A sessions, Family Services ensure that every CCA family, new or experienced, receives a strong, consistent level of support and guidance.
  • Family mentors: Parents know what other parents need. At CCA, family mentors are veteran parents assigned to newly enrolled families in their regions. They are available year-round to answer nonacademic questions and provide tips that help newer families learn the ropes. They can provide personalized help with managing your child’s learning system. They also bring families together, virtually and in person, to share their triumphs and swap ideas on making cyber schooling a success.
  • Family Service Centers: CCA’s more than a dozen Family Service Centers are resource places for students and families. Teachers conduct virtual classes from the centers. Families can drop by for events, in-person help with enrollment, or to meet with administrators and school counselors.

3. Are There Clubs and After-School Programs?

Parents considering the online learning option don’t have to worry that their children will miss out on extracurriculars and clubs. In fact, online school can connect children to a wider world of activities and interests. Flexible scheduling gives students and their families the freedom and the time to explore everything that’s offered in their community and even around the state. 

CCA’s rich menu of clubs and field trips creates opportunities for children to explore, learn and socialize. Clubs focus on the arts, literature, math, science and technology, and volunteering and community service. Students can dive into digital storytelling, chess, gaming, coding or youth and government, among many other choices. 

CCA’s field trips take children to the wondrous natural, historical and fun spots that Pennsylvania has to offer. Visits to museums, parks and forests, and living history sites provide real-world enrichment of classroom lessons, while excursions to trampoline parks or gyms let kids romp and make friends.  A wide array of virtual field trips also allow students the chance to travel to other states, countries or even outer space. 

4. What Courses Does Cyber School Offer?

In Pennsylvania, cyber charter schools get approval to operate — known as a charter — from the state Department of Education. They must abide by state standards and standardized testing schedules. Teachers are state-certified and subject to criminal history checks. The full range of courses found at traditional schools, including math, science, language arts and social studies for every grade, is available.

The difference is that cyber charter schools harness the power of technology to bring innovations in learning directly to students. Children learn to think for themselves and pursue their individual passions. At CCA, there are gifted and talented, honors and Advanced Placement courses starting in third grade. Teachers are available to help students who need extra time to work through their challenges.  

In fact, CCA has the autonomy to offer exciting courses that traditional schools might not have. All align with CCA’s goal of preparing every student for life after high school graduation through career exploration, internships and coursework customization. STEAM education classes cover such intriguing subjects as engineering, astronomy, 3D printing, web design, coding and aquaponics. Economics, criminal justice and psychology prime students for careers in government, law enforcement and social impact. An entrepreneurship course prepares students for the 21st century economy, where ideas are the ticket to business opportunity. Classes in the arts open children’s eyes to all the ways they can turn their creative instincts into careers in art, dance and music.  Whether a student already has plans for the future or is still looking for ways to apply their passions after high school, CCA’s Career Pathways framework is sure to guide them to the courses and experiences best suited to success.

5. What’s the Difference Between CCA and Brick-and-Mortar Schools?

The differences between CCA and traditional schools come down to three things:

  • Individualized attention for every student. Teachers have the ability to get to know the students and their individual needs.
  • A more advanced program. CCA teaches students to become independent thinkers. Instructors don’t tell students what the problem is, but instead they guide them to the answer and have the students problem-solve. In a brick-and-mortar school, students are often handed the problem and the solution, with no opportunity to think it through on their own. 
  • The creation of events and opportunities. CCA parents can turn school into what they and their children want it to be. They can find other students within the CCA community and create an environment where their children can engage with others, making friends of their choosing. On field trips, older and younger students attend together, so they — and their families — can see different experiences that others are having.

CCA Mentoring Program Tackles Common Questions About Cyber School

The questions to ask a school before enrolling your child are important ones. Ask around, and you’ll learn that CCA is a cyber charter school offering a high-quality public education, without the rigidity and constraints of brick-and-mortar schools, all at no cost to families. Students learn at their own pace. Teachers work with parents to personalize learning plans to each child’s passions, goals, strengths and challenges. Children pursue learning in the safety of their own homes, away from schoolyard bullies and classroom cliques. Through it all, family mentors help parents and students adjust, for a smooth transition to a vast improvement in learning environments. Are you ready to bring your child into a personalized learning experience? Sign up today to learn more about what our cyber school can do for you and your family.

Author

Commonwealth Charter Academy

Published

September 14th, 2021

Category

Learning Lab

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