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Cyber School & Homeschool: What’s the Difference?

by David Engle | Jun 11, 2020 | 4 min read

Let’s clear one thing up right away…cyber school is not school taught by robots or cyborgs. Nor should cyber school be confused with homeschooling. While the two forms of schooling do share some similarities, there are actually quite a few differences between cyber schools and homeschooling.

What is cyber schooling?
Before we get into the differences between homeschooling and cyber schooling, let’s look at what cyber schooling actually entails. As its name implies, cyber schooling is a 100% virtual, online school (often considered a charter school). This format allows students to take a full course load by computer at home, all the way through high school, to earn a diploma, degree, or certificate.

While some cyber schools offer non-accredited courses, traditional cyber schools are accredited, meaning that these schools strive to meet and exceed high standards set by whichever bodies are providing their accreditation. This not only shows the school’s commitment to providing an excellent education, but it also opens the doors for possible college scholarships. Cyber schools are taught entirely by teachers via computer and camera and allow children from areas underserved by public schools to receive a quality education.

What are the differences between cyber school and homeschooling?

  1. While homeschooling can be entirely online, in most cases there is live instruction in the home by either a parent or teacher for most, if not all, classes. Cyber school, on the other hand, is instructed entirely by teachers, but in a virtual classroom environment via computer/webcam connection.
  2. Cyber schools, while they may differ individually in process, generally follow the same type of structure. Teachers control grading and assignments, which include uploaded lessons and assessments, worksheets, online discussions, and exams. Homeschooling can be anything a family wants it to be–structured, unstructured, curriculum-driven, experiential, solitary, or group-focused. There’s no right or wrong way to homeschool–many parents let their child dictate how their education unfolds, based on the student’s personality, passions, and learning style.
  3. Many cyber schools follow a set curriculum with assignments and tests, some based on the public school’s standards–some even require students to take exams at a predetermined location as they’re monitored by a proctor or administrator. Homeschooling? Some states require testing or other assessments, others don’t require anything at all. Same with curriculum. Before deciding which method is best for your child, you should definitely do some research on your state’s homeschooling laws to find out what requirements you need to consider.
  4. The role of you, as a parent, differs greatly between cyber school and homeschooling. As I mentioned previously, cyber school classes are instructed by teachers online. With homeschooling, depending on which type you choose, the teaching is in your hands. This is one aspect homeschooling parents value most–that they can take charge of their child’s education and teach them in a way that they know will result in success. As kids grow older, many parents decide to let go of the reins a bit and allow their students to explore more on their own, choose their own path, and select their own courses, which is an exceptional way to prepare them for life after graduation.
  5. Along these lines, many parents choose to incorporate their faith into their child’s upbringing and education. Obviously, this is not possible in a public cyber school environment. But as a homeschooler, there are many ways to weave faith, religion, and spirituality into schooling with courses and curriculum.

Which approach is better?
There really isn’t a wrong choice; it’s simply up to you as a parent and how you see your role in your child’s education. If you’re more comfortable allowing paid teachers to instruct your child remotely, then cyber school is probably the logical choice.

If you really want to chart the course for your child’s educational journey, homeschooling is the way to go, as it allows you to personally instruct and be as hands-on as you’d like. Homeschooling also allows the freedom to join other homeschooling families in group lessons or co-ops, so children can interact and socialize with other kids of all ages and even learn from other adults.

Either option places you and your child in a more comfortable situation that you can control. The convenience of learning at home allows you and your student to work at his or her own pace in a way and environment that prioritizes comfort and safety. If your child struggles with a certain subject, you don’t need to worry about them being left behind in a traditional classroom–you can spend as much time as needed to ensure the material is understood.

On the other hand, if your child shows mastery in a particular area, you may be able to shorten the time spent on those lessons and move onto the next thing, whereas in a traditional classroom setting, your child would most likely grow impatient and bored as he or she waits to advance to the next lesson.

Cyber school and homeschooling also allow room for independence, especially as kids grow up. Online learning, even with instructors leading the way, fosters independent study, as do most methods of homeschooling. Contrary to popular belief, kids who learned at home are more likely to adapt to post-graduation life more quickly and easily than kids from public or private schools. The independence and experiences these kids gained from not learning in a traditional classroom help teach them the valuable life skills they need to make a smooth transition into the “real world.”

If you’re leaning toward homeschooling, Bridgeway Academy offers a wide variety of programs and options, including Self-Paced Classes, blended learning* (textbook and online), full Grade Level Kits with an entire year of curriculum, and Live Online Classes that are very similar to cyber school. Additionally, most of our programs are accredited, and we offer supplemental support that takes the burden of grading, paperwork, and other administrative duties off your plate so you can focus on teaching.

Call (800) 863-1474 today to learn more about how Bridgeway Academy can help you get started on the amazing journey of homeschooling.

*Grades 1-6 only

David Engle
Hello, and thanks for reading! I’m David Engle--dad, husband, sports fan, and writer/editor. As a father for the last 18 years (father of two for the last 14), I consider myself to be pretty well-versed in all things related to education, childhood, and parenting, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share some insights and knowledge with fellow parents. I have been a professional writer and editor for a quarter of a century (it pains me to admit that) and have been writing in the educational space for a number of those years. I reside in southern New Jersey with my wife, two kids, two dogs, and three cats. Never a dull moment.
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