Will Online Elementary Education Programs Make My Kids Happy?

Online schooling offers advantages and opportunities that the traditional classroom does not — flexible scheduling, one-on-one attention and the ability for students to enjoy a learning experience that is customized to their needs and strengths.

However, many parents wonder if their child will be happy attending an online school. Here are a few reasons that kids (and parents!) love online schooling.

Why do some elementary school students love online learning?

As any parent knows, the traditional classroom doesn’t always allow for active participation — especially for children that are more reserved. One of the primary reasons that students love the online learning experience is that it gives them the opportunity to engage with their teachers, their fellow classmates and the course material in the security of a safe and familiar environment.

“I am most proud of the elementary school children who have found their voice and participate wholeheartedly on the webcam and in our talent shows, expressing themselves,” says Miriam Rube, K12 International Academy’s head of school. K12 International Academy offers a private, online Lower School for children in grades K-5. “Particularly, those who had not done so in their previous environments.”

Online Schooling creates strong bonds between teachers and their students

While teachers in traditional schools must see to the needs of 20 or more students at one time, educators in online schools can provide far more one-on-one attention.

“We consider the best fit for each individual student,” Ms. Rube explains. “In our model, the family’s designated learning coach — usually a parent — and our school’s homeroom teacher work hand-in-hand to be sure the student fully engages with the material in a meaningful way. This relationship is paramount to the student’s success and progression.”

How do I find the “right way” to do online schooling? (Hint: there isn’t one)

While the traditional classroom experience works beautifully for some children, for many others, its limitations have a negative impact on an individual child’s quality of education and engagement. Unlike the rigidity that brick and mortar schools require, online schooling allows for students to customize and take control of their own learning experience.

“At the International Academy, there is no identified ‘right way’ for students to learn,” Ms. Rube says. “For this reason, many students choose our environment. Their learning is available to them 24 hours, seven days a week. The right way is no longer sitting in a desk at the front or back of the room every Monday through Friday at 9 a.m. until the bell rings at 3 p.m.”

What Kind of Support is There for Parents?

Students aren’t the only ones who love the online learning experience; parents also enjoy the unique opportunities it provides. As you’re learning how to make online learning work for your family and student, you have the benefit of having the support of both your child’s teachers and fellow learning coaches.

“Because there are no limits between teachers and parents, it can be really nice to know that, as a parent, you have someone there that you can talk about these issues with who is on the same page, and is also invested in the success of your student,” says Susan Hollingsworth, manager of family and student support at K12 International Academy.

You want your child to be happy and enjoy learning, and sometimes the road less traveled provides the most enjoyable and effective learning experience.

Want to learn more about how online schooling works?

K12 International Academy offers online learning opportunities for students in grades K-12. If you are specifically interested in the Lower School, here are a few resources to check out:



Choosing The Best Online Gifted & Talented Program

Enrolling a student in an online school is a big step! If your child is gifted or talented, choosing the online option that will best fit her strengths can make this an even more momentous task.

Gifted children sometimes feel confined by a traditional education environment. The right online school can provide the flexibility, one-on-one instruction and freedom that exceptional students need to explore their passions.

Not all online schools are equal in the opportunities that they offer to their students, of course. How can you be sure that the online school you’re considering has the tools to allow your gifted child to succeed — and exceed?

Here are a few tips to consider as you consider online gifted and talented programs for your child.

Do Your Research.

Begin your research by looking at all of the school’s information available on school district and state Department of Education websites. See how the school’s students perform in state and national exams. Consider the progress scores for the top students. If this information is not available online, contact the schools and ask for it directly.

Ask Questions.

It’s important to ensure that the school you’re considering has a gifted and talented education program in place that meets the needs of its students. Asking questions is the only way to get the answers that you need.

Questions to ask include:

  • How does your school monitor student progress?
  • Does your school develop critical thinking skills?
  • What percentage of your student body is gifted?
  • How do you identify gifted students?

When asking these questions, listen for any inconsistencies. While a school may have several teachers who are able to meet the needs of gifted students, if the school doesn’t have a gifted and talented education program in place, then your child may not receive a consistently positive experience.

Look for “Strategies for Success.”

According to Noodle.com, an online resource that guides parents in choosing the best education options for their children, you should hone in on schools that have “strategies for success.”

Some strategies to look for include:

  • Access to Experts and Older Students. Because many gifted children struggle to find others who share their interests and can provide mental stimulation, a mentorship program is important.
  • Gifted children typically perform at a higher grade level than their peers, and that can make it difficult for them to build social connections with children their own age. By creating individualized academic programming and allowing students to take part in science, technology, math or other subjects with older children, a school can ensure that their gifted children are engaged.
  • Innovative Instruction. Gifted children thrive in an environment where teachers have the freedom to tailor their learning experience to fit their unique strengths and interests.

Find Out More About the Online School.

The type of online school that you choose will greatly impact the kind of education that your child receives. Some things to consider include:

  • How the school receives its funding. Is it a private, public charter or university-sponsored school?
  • Whether the school is accredited. Will your child receive a diploma upon graduation, or will they be required to attain a GED?
  • Who are the teachers? Make sure the teacher qualifications are legit.
  • How many of the school’s students attend outstanding colleges and universities after completing the program? If the number is low, that’s a big red flag.
  • What costs are associated with the program? Do you feel confident that you’ll get what you paid for?
  • How much one-on-one attention will your child receive? Also important: will they have opportunities to connect with their fellow students?

Remember that the Struggle is Real – For Your Child.

According to Mariam Willis, a parent outreach specialist for the National Association for Gifted Children, parents need to make an extra effort to teach their gifted children social skills. That means working with your kids to make sure their socializing in a healthy manner — not just dumping them at soccer practice and hoping for the best.

Looking for an Online School with a Great Gifted and Talented Program?

K12 International Academy offers the ALP program – the Advanced Learner Program – to accommodate the needs of gifted students. This program, which aligns with the guidelines outlined by the National Association for Gifted Children, provides gifted students with many unique educational opportunities, including a variety of curriculum options and extracurricular enrichment activities.

Learn more today at icademy.com.


A U.S. High School Degree Is The First Step Towards Becoming A Global Citizen


A U.S. high school diploma opens the doors towards pursuing degrees from a U.S. college or university as well as offering preparation for careers all around the globe, opportunities to travel and chances to network and intern with business and industry leaders from all over the world.

A U.S. high school diploma checks the boxes that many post-secondary institutions and employers expect from candidates, and simplifies the process of taking these exciting steps.

If your son or daughter is planning on pursuing a degree from a U.S. college or university, here are a few things you’ll want to consider.

Why a U.S. high school diploma is important for international students

  1. Students need a high school diploma to attend a U.S. college or university.

To best understand how to get your child ready for admission to a U.S. college or university, it’s important to know a little bit about how the system works.
For example:

  • American students log 12 years of study before earning a high school diploma.
  • American students start school at the age of five. They attend primary (elementary) school for five years, then go to middle school (also known as junior high school) for two to three years, and then spend four years in high school.
  • A diploma is awarded after successfully completing high school. Students are usually 17 or 18 years old when they complete high school.
  1. The schools in your city may or may not meet the educational or admissions requirements of U.S. colleges or universities.

American colleges and universities not only judge the grades your child receives in secondary school but the quality of that educational experience. These institutions will also expect a competitive student to have taken certain, specific type of courses before beginning the college experience.

To increase your child’s chances for getting accepted at the U.S. college or university of his or her choice, StudyUSA offers the following tips:

  • Make sure that the official transcripts of your child’s academic work are available. You’ll be required to submit these documents with these college application.
  • Understand the U.S. grading system. For example, two students with a 4.0 GPA — considered excellent in American schools! — may be evaluated differently based on the academic difficulty of the school they attended, or the courses he or she takes.Anna Wulick of PrepScholar notes that students should plan, at a minimum, to take four years of English, three to four years of mathematics, three years of science and two to three years of history.At the same time, colleges and universities will want assurance that the academic rigor of the school your children attended prepared them for the challenges ahead.
  • Ascertain the U.S. equivalent of the last level of education that your child attended in your home country. Did your child complete the equivalent of four years of U.S. high school?
  • Be aware that admission requirements vary among colleges and universities and even among individual degree programs. Don’t assume that the requirements are the same from one college to another. Competition to get into post-secondary schools is red-hot, and the funnel narrows to a trickle for the top colleges and universities.Your child should plan to take on leadership roles at a young age: participation in sports and clubs, community volunteerism and business internships are great steps for your young student to take.
  • Encourage your child to meet regularly with his or her academic adviser. Make sure that he or she is staying on track to meet the admission requirements of his or her chosen college.
  1. International students make up a large percentage of U.S. college and university students…and that number is growing.According to Project Atlas, 974,926 international students attended U.S. colleges and universities during the 2014-2015 academic year. The majority of these students come from China (304,040 students), India (132,888 students), South Korea (63,710 students), Saudi Arabia (59,945 students) and Canada (27,240 students.)

Project Atlas also reported that more than 65 percent of these international students concentrated their studies in five areas:

  1. Business and management (20.2%)
  2. Engineering (20.2%)
  3. Math and computer science (11.6%)
  4. Social sciences (7.8%)
  5. Physical and life sciences (7.6%.)

While nearly every U.S. college and university has at least a few international students, some schools have a higher concentration than other. The five U.S. colleges and universities with the largest number of international students are New York University, the University of Southern California, Columbia University, Arizona State University and the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign campus).

  1. Follow the checklist for college-bound international students seeking a U.S. high school diploma.

In summary, international students seeking to enter a U.S. college or university should take the following steps:

  • Make sure that you meet the basic entrance requirements for a U.S. high school or college. These can generally be found in the school’s admissions material.
  • Take advantage of the school’s guidance counselor or college counseling service to help your child prepare for the sometimes-complicated college application process.
  • Encourage your child to sign up for advanced placement courses while still in high school to give him or her a head start on college coursework and earn college credits.
  • Suggest your child get to know American students and socialize with them prior to entering college.
  • Help your child Improve his or her English language skills.

Want a more competitive education – and a U.S. high school diploma?

If you want to ensure that your children receive the type of competitive education that prepares them to compete at U.S. colleges and universities as well as the American job market, consider an online private school.

Students from all over the world attend K12 International Academy online to earn a U.S. high school diploma before moving on to some of the top post-secondary educational institutions in the country.

For more information, visit K12 International Academy online today.


Staying In Touch With Online Teachers

How to Stay Connected with Your Online Student’s Teachers

One of the biggest benefits of online learning is the one-on-one attention and instruction that students receive from their teachers. Rather than fighting for the attention of the instructor with 20 or 30 other children, or — even worse — simply drifting into the background, online students are guaranteed ample facetime with their teachers.

They do have to make sure to grab those opportunities, because the online education model often requires the students to proactively approach their teachers with questions or concerns. Sometimes, kids need a little assist from mom or dad to do that kind of outreach — and, as we’ll see, mom and dad are expected to do some parent-teacher outreach of their own.

We recently spoke with Anna Peacock-McLaughlin, a middle school history teacher with K12 International Academy, and Susan Hollingsworth, K12 International Academy’s manager of family and student support, to discuss how parents of online students can stay involved with their child’s progress and connect with their teachers throughout the school year.

How Often Do Online Students Communicate with Their Teachers?

Online students are encouraged to communicate with their teacher on a regular basis, according to Ms. Peacock-McLaughlin.

“Students can reach out as much as they want,” she said. “I always want to make sure that I am absolutely meeting their needs. (But) if a student is falling behind on their work, I will reach out more often to help keep them on track. We won’t let you fall out of touch.”

The frequency that your child meets with their teacher will vary, noted Ms. Hollingsworth, depending on their grade level. She cited K12 International Academy as an example.

“In the lower schools, the teachers are homeroom teachers, they meet with students on a biweekly basis,” she explained. “In the upper level (6-12), the homeroom teacher goes away, and we now have subject specific teachers. The students talk with each of their subject teachers once a month.”

How often do parents of online students talk to teachers?

As the parent of an online student, you are also expected to be your child’s learning coach. You will need to connect with your child’s teachers regularly.

Ms. Peacock-McLaughlin told us that the frequency of the meetings changes at K12 International Academy, however, as your child moves up through the grades.

“For lower school, K12 International Academy does have set parent-teacher meetings that are recurring twice a month,” she said. “In middle school, parent meetings are sort of ad hoc, so if the parents request them, we’ll set it up. It’s up to the parents if they want to create a scheduled and recurring meeting.”

During these meetings, you will discuss your child’s progress and receive the support that you need to make sure online learning is a success.

“Each time I communicate with parents, we almost always talk about grades,” Ms. Peacock-McLaughlin said. “During these conversations, I also like to touch on learning styles, because no one knows a kid’s learning style better than their parents and Learning Coach.”

Maintaining open communication with your child’s teacher

Model best practices, parents! The most effective way to encourage your child to maintain a good relationship with her online teacher is to demonstrate how the importance of a strong relationship.

“At all levels, the learning coach needs to facilitate communication with the teacher, as well as model it,” Ms. Hollingsworth explained. “Not just encouraging their student’s contact with the teacher, but also leading the way with regular communication with teachers and the school.”

Resources for Parents

As a learning coach, you must be committed to ensuring that your student thrives in the online learning environment. Sometimes, fellow learning coaches provide the best support for each other, which is why K12 International Academy encourages parents to connect.

“We offer high school parents three sessions a month called The Parent Corner. They’re focused on how to support your child in an online environment,” Ms. Hollingsworth said. “We present one about time management, one on course selection and another on finishing a semester strong. These sessions are actually led by Learning Coaches. In the lower school, we have Coach to Coach sessions that happen once a month and are specific to issues that parents have voiced.”

By staying connected with your student’s teachers, you can ensure that your student’s experience with online learning is enjoyable and successful.


Want to learn more about the benefits of an online education at K12 International Academy? Request information today now.


How Can Online Learning Support Early Childhood Education?

Children who get a quality education in their early years have a better chance of excelling academically as they grow into young adults. There are, however, a lot of unique factors that go into how and where a good education is going to be available to kids across the country. One of the great equalizers is online learning.

What is online learning?

We are all familiar with the traditional education setting: think about brick-and-mortar schools where students sit in classrooms and get instructions from teachers through direct physical interaction.

Online learning is different in that it does not require schools and classrooms. Teachers can provide instruction to students who may be anywhere in the country – even the world. Students who learn online can access their course materials at any time, work at their own pace and connect with educators, peers and friends with a lot more flexibility than you’d find in the classroom that many of us remember.

Can young children benefit from online learning?

Some parents may be concerned that an online education for young children can be too heavily reliant on technology. Kids need interaction with adults and peers to socialize – and spending too much time in front of a screen seems like it could be a recipe for later problems.


“How do we facilitate and extend the learning experience beyond the digital and connect it to the real world experience of children?” asks Jeremy Boyle, M.F.A., assistant professor of learning, media and design at the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at St. Vincent College.  “Children need a diverse range of experiences for productive learning – just as media and technology is integrated into many aspects of our contemporary lifestyles, so too may it be integrated into many aspects of a child’s experience, but it should never take the place of or interfere with opportunities for a wide and diverse range of experience.”


The best online schools for young children, like K12 International Academy, provide the type of interactive education that goes beyond the screen. Technology is a tool for educating young children, not the substitute.

“Everyone is worried, thinking, ‘Am I just putting my kid in front of a computer and walking away?’ And that’s a scary idea, but it isn’t like that at all,” says Tracy Smith, K-8 Department Chair for K12 International Academy. “The students get these material kits in the mail for their classes, and they feel like it’s a birthday. It’s so hands-on, it isn’t like passively learning in front of a computer. It’s so interactive.”

There are a lot of misconceptions about online education for young children: that it is impersonal. That it’s all about the screen. That it lacks the bond that is only created in the traditional classroom.

That’s just not the case, Ms. Smith reports.

“I think that one of the big myths would be that online education for young students is not personal, but it is,” she says “There is a teacher on the other side of the computer that cares about you and is invested in you…

“You can really see them light up when they’re on their webcams with us and can interact with their teachers. They’ll hold up their favorite stuffed animal, and we ask them about it, if they know where it came from, and other facts about it. They may hold up their latest Lego creation and we can ask about it, what it is, how many Legos they used, and we’re able to turn a normal interaction into a teaching moment, something that relates back to their regular subjects and classwork. It’s just an amazing way to get the one-on-one interaction that we as teachers like to give and that students crave.”


Finding the right balance

It’s that balance between human interaction, interpersonal relationships and technology where parents, young learners and educators find the sweet spot, Boyle says.

“How do we facilitate and extend the learning experience beyond the digital and connect it to the real world experience of children?” he asks. “Children need a diverse range of experiences for productive learning – just as media and technology is integrated into many aspects of our contemporary lifestyles, so too may it be integrated into many aspects of a child’s experience, but it should never take the place of or interfere with opportunities for a wide and diverse range of experience…

“When adult-child relationships are established, children become much more ready to learn, and it can become possible for media experiences to contribute positively to a child’s social and emotional development.”


Online education may be right for your child.

“Students get that time where they can be excited about learning and they don’t have to wait their turn like they would in a regular classroom setting,” Ms. Smith says. “They get the attention that they just crave at that younger age.”


If the flexibility of an online educational environment would help your child thrive, and if you are ready to be a learning partner, learn more about how to enroll at K12 International Academy today.

Success In Online Learning


Success in Online Learning Starts with a Social Life

“Humans are technically built to be around other humans,” says Parenting Coach and Washington Post Advice Columnist Meghan Leahy. “The feeling of isolation can happen pretty quickly.”

If your child is an online student, you’ve seen the benefits of a flexible education. Online education means you have the freedom to choose how and when your child learns — whether you choose an online private school or other online programs.

But what about a social life?

As a parent, one of your responsibilities is ensuring that your child has an active, healthy social life if you make the choice to remove her from a traditional school setting. What kind of programs do you choose to give your child the best social experience?

We recently chatted with Meghan Leahy, a well-known newspaper columnist and mother of three with a master’s degree in school counseling, to get her thoughts on social opportunities for kids outside the traditional educational system.

Q: When a student attends school online or is homeschooled, why is it important for the parents to ensure that the child has an active social life?

Meghan: It’s actually one of the fundamental ways that children grow. During play, kids can experiment safely without consequence, it’s where they do a lot of problem solving. And they need a social life to have that.

Q: What are some strategies parents can use when a social life isn’t automatically built into their child’s schooling experience?

M: My advice to parents and families: If you live in a community where people are not catering to these needs, don’t be afraid to reach out to people around you. Say, “I’m having a pizza night this Friday, and everyone can come over and bring their kids!”

I think that if you consciously seek out interesting experiences in the world, if you go to cultural things, or church, or anything that is outside of your house and interesting, even though it isn’t time spent with peers, if you think about the definition of socialization, you are socializing your child with the culture.

Q: How can a parent be sure that their child is getting the right amount of social time when they’re an online or home-based student?

M: You have to really pay attention. A normal, typical child will just say “I’m bored!” They’ll talk about things they’d like to do. “I would like to try ice skating,” or “I want to take art classes.”

If they aren’t saying anything, you can ask them: “What are you interested in trying? Is there something you want to go see together?”

It’s more a question of how can we broaden our experience. As a parent, I would just take interest in what they’re interested in.

Is online education right for your family?

If you’re considering a non-traditional path for your child — whether it’s because your youngster is an athlete, performer or simply thrives in a setting more attuned to his or her learning style — consider the possibilities of a flexible, online program that fits your family’s needs. For more information on the benefits of online education, visit www.icademy.com today.

Explore Nature This Summer

Explore Nature This Summer

By Anna Peacock-McLaughlin

It’s summer! That means it’s time to get outside for many families! In summer, more than any other season we think of all the exotic places, interesting historical sites and beautiful beach destinations we can sightsee! We plan for transportation, we make lists and we schedule special tours to explore new sites! It was Richard Louv, the author of Last Child In The Woods and Vitamin-N, that helped me realize, that like many of you, I’m drawn to time in the natural world. This summer, I encourage you to extend your learning at our online school beyond the walls of your home-based classroom into nature!

You may have picked up on my love of nature through several of my previous blog posts where I discuss hanging out in natural surroundings while completing your online school work whether it’s in a hammock, on a bike or at the beach! In fact, having an outdoor classroom or meeting with community group are both wonderful ideas for incorporating Mother Nature into your daily online school routine. I have an outdoor classroom with a picnic table under a pecan tree with an extended range on my home Wi-Fi so that I can teach from the lush setting of my yard with a magnolia tree as the background for my video. I dare you to connect with your environment by setting up an outdoor classroom today.

Travel during the summer is another great way to incorporate nature into your learning experiences and can usually be broken into two categories: local/regional and “the big vacation!” Indeed, both can incorporate nature exploration that extends learning.

I must say, even though we think of summer as travel time–my students tend to travel throughout the entire school year because our program lends itself to the flexibility to extend learning to destinations found in our courses! Whether you travel during the summer or throughout the year, I want you to think about how you can extend learning from your home-based classroom into nature the next time you take a trip with your family.

Locally and regionally, there are usually hundreds of green spaces that are ready for you! Many local parks now offer Wi-Fi; or, you can turn your phone into a hotspot and take your books and a computer along–who knows you may get to go to a battle field, fort or museum that is found in your history course. Try going to http://findyourpark.com/ to find a place near you. Or take a science experiment into the natural world—see if you find rocks while on a hike, then come home and identify them using your science course material under your microscope. Our English courses are filled with authors who have written all over the world—find a story or poem that is set in a natural landscape and read it there to get a better understanding of the authors perspective. Write your next essay while at a local park bench. If the local outdoors are not for you, try going to an art museum and read the location/date of every landscape then place it in a timeline using your art or history course as a guide. You can find ways to be amongst flora, fauna and wildlife while learning at our school!

When planning our “big vacation” trips, we scour the internet for the “perfect destination” that is offered world-wide. This year the US National Park Service is having its centennial celebration this year and has tons of opportunities to engage your family beyond the classroom and it’s open to travelers from all over the world! There is a list below (not exhaustive) of some other countries that have awesome national park systems and are worth exploring.

I encourage you to find some nature, near you or far away that offers your family a chance to look beyond the science, math or history textbook into a world of learning. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for visiting places that offer places to swim, wade and stroll through pristine bodies of undeveloped waters. My personal experiences while working with K12 International Academy have taken me to the Grand Canyon to explore hydrology, Death Valley where I studied dry lake beds and to Yellowstone where I took an in-depth look at geysers.

The nature-classroom connections are boundless–I challenge you to explore! Where are you headed this summer? What sites have you discovered that extend your online classroom to the natural world?

United Nations World Heritage Sites http://whc.unesco.org/

National Parks of Australia http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/national-parks

National Parks of the Amazon in Brazil http://www.brazil.org.za/national-parks-of-the-amazon.html

Canadian National Parks http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/index.aspx

National Parks of Japan: https://www.env.go.jp/en/nature/nps/park/

Korea National Park Service: http://english.knps.or.kr/

South African Nation Parks https://www.sanparks.org/

Swiss National Park Service: http://www.nationalpark.ch/en/

Thai National Parks https://www.thainationalparks.com/

UAE Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve http://www.ddcr.org/en/index.aspx

United Kingdom Parks: http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/

United States National Parks http://findyourpark.com/