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Is Online Homeschool Best for Elementary Students?

by Jessica Parnell | Mar 04, 2015 | 3 min read

There is no doubt that online learning is on the rise, among both primary and secondary students. The benefits to embracing today’s technology and having students log-in online for school are indeed valuable: flexibility, accessibility, cost-effectiveness, and more. But is online homeschooling the best choice for elementary students?  Is it a good fit for young learners whose developmental skills have only just started to take shape? Should they be considering a fully online program?
With the rise in free online homeschooling, these questions are as important as ever for parents to consider. While online homeschool may seem easier, easy doesn’t always mean it is best. After careful consideration through hours and hours of detailed research here at Bridgeway Academy, we don’t fully online homeschool is best-particularly for students in grades kindergarten through fifth. Here’s why:

Their brains are still developing valuable connections that they will use throughout their lives. A recent study conducted through the Huffington Post shows that the brain process which students use when writing, using a pen and paper, have the following concrete advantages over the brain process they use when typing into a computer. Therefore, the best homeschool elementary curriculum should include writing, and lots of it!
They use more complex brain power. While learning penmanship, children are exposed to crucial development processes they will use for the rest of their lives. In fact, when writing with one hand, children use more complex brain power than they do when typing with two hands. In addition the act of physical writing strengthens their visual, motor, and cognitive skills. Online homeschool can stunt growth in the visual and motor skills necessary for young learners to thrive.
Learning comprehension. Writing out notes long-hand allows students to better digest information and remember things more clearly. When listening and writing down notes, students use all learning styles–they have to use auditory processing to listen well; they have to engage their bodies to write, and they harness the visual as they put things on the page.  By engaging the whole brain, they better process and remember information and create connections between the verbal analytic and spatial networks in the brain.
Interestingly, studies show that physically writing down the steps to a process acts as a mini rehearsal for actually doing the task; tricking the brain into thinking it is actually doing it. This leads to greater memorization and better problem solving skills.
Clear communication. Because writing stimulates the retinal activating system (RAS), studies have found that children’s writing ability was consistently better when using a pen/pencil over a keyboard, allowing them to communicate their thoughts much better in assignments, and in life.
Online Homeschool and the kinesthetic learner. Knowing the benefits of in-classroom learning vs. online learning is critical for parents of kinesthetic learners. Dr. Nancy Harkrider, learning industry expert, says:
“Kinesthetic learners are the most difficult to reach in traditional educational systems. They are the kids who fall through the cracks. So it stands to reason that these same people are the most difficult to reach with e-learning that is based on the same traditional educational mindset. Kinesthetic learners tend to want to “know why something is important. That means that they need to get a feel for the big picture before their brain will allow them to attack the knowledge bits. They learn best with others and directly from others. These learners aren’t good candidates for self-directed, exclusively asynchronous online experiences.”
Bridgeway Academy’s plan
At Bridgeway Academy, we have worked hard to create the best elementary homeschool curriculum. A huge part of that is understanding how critical those elementary school years are for development, and we believe that online learning just does not foster the skills the same way that an interactive, enriching homeschool program can. With our plan, parents combine both offline instruction with online complementary activities and thus get the best of both worlds.  An education that is designed to maximize brain development with the fun of online education as a complement rather than the driver of their education.
And for those interested in combining online education with interaction between teachers and students, we offer fun, interactive and live online classes for all ages.  Elementary students can take classes using LEGOs to study architecture and K’Nex to study robotics as well as writing classes and others like Kitchen Chemistry, Magic Treehouse-Ancient China, Exploring Art and more. Visit our website for more on these exciting online classes.
After children complete the fifth grade, Bridgeway allows students to enroll in a fully online homeschool program. At this point, students have a strong grasp of their learning process, and a foundation rooted in important developmental processes.
For more information about Bridgeway Academy homeschool programs and the best homeschooling plan for your elementary school student, visit

Jessica Parnell
Hello everyone! I’m Jessica Parnell — mom, homeschool evaluator, teacher, and CEO of Bridgeway Academy. In my 20+ years of experience as a homeschool mom and evaluator, I have had the privilege of meeting homeschoolers that take a variety of approaches to their education. It is their many stories and successes that inspire me in my own homeschooling and I love to pass on the knowledge that I have gained from them to other homeschooling families. The one constant that always remains true is that there’s no such thing as a “cookie cutter child.” Each child is fearfully and wonderfully made and as a result, learns and functions differently. It’s our job to ensure that we’re raising each child to fulfill their individual purpose and when we can teach in a way that inspires them, we are on our way to homeschool success. When I’m not writing or teaching my children, I like to ski, write and participate in triathlons. I graduated from Kutztown University with a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Masters in English and I am currently pursuing a degree in Neuroleadership.
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