Full time RV’ing comes with special challenges for families with children, especially if those children are school-age.
Many full time families choose to follow the philosophy of “roadschooling,” which means they teach as they go. Roadschool families often use their current location as a classroom – visiting parks and museums, exploring local sights and learning as much as they can about their area.
This type of schooling sounds great – learn while having fun and not being a slave to the school schedule. What kid (and parent) wouldn’t enjoy that?
That approach works well for younger kids, but once they’ve outgrown elementary a more structured approach to homeschooling might be needed, especially for high school.
This is where virtual school, or online school, can often be a perfect fit. There are many options for virtual school, including both public and private institutions. (And you can still “go” to school in your pajamas!)
More than half of states offer public school online, to include Texas and Florida which are popular with full time RV’ers claiming residency. In those two states, and others with similar programs, virtual school is part of the public school system. Students simply choose virtual school as their “school of choice” vs. attending a traditional brick and mortar institution.
In a public virtual school, students take the same courses as if they were attending school in person every day. This is especially important for high schoolers who need specific credit to graduate.
Many of the schools will allow students to take just one class at a time. Doing so could be a good trial run for full time RV’ers (or those considering it in the future) who aren’t sure if virtual school would be the right choice for them.
K12, a website dedicated to promoting school choice, offers a list of online schools. Some are public and some are private, but all offer full-time curriculum.
Rules vary by state, but in most cases students who attend virtual school can be classified either as full-time students or as homeschool students. The latter typically offers more freedom in terms of working on your own schedule and timelines for completion of classes.
Here are 10 questions to ask if you are considering virtual school while full time RV’ing:
Would you prefer your child be classified as a homeschool student or a full-time student?
Does your state of residency have any specific laws regarding homeschooling? In Florida, for example, families must submit a basic letter of intent to homeschool to their local school address (based on your permanent residency, typically where your vehicle is registered, where you pay taxes, are registered to vote, etc.).
Does the state require that homeschoolers (if you choose this classification) take standardized tests?
Will this approach work with your student? Talk to your child about whether they think virtual school is right for them. They will likely spend several hours a day on the computer reading or watching videos, so you and they will need to consider whether online instruction matches their learning style.
Does the virtual school offer the classes that your child needs and wants? Many virtual schools offer everything from basic courses to AP classes. It’s important to make sure the instruction offered is varied enough to meet your child’s academic level.
Is your child a social butterfly? If so, check if your virtual school offers clubs or other activities. Many have weekly meetings in online forums.
If your child is in high school, will he or she be issued an official transcript from the virtual school?
Does the school offer a diploma vs. a certificate of completion upon graduation?
How much time are you as a parent willing to spend working with your child? Traditional homeschooling takes a lot of time and planning from the parent. Virtual school requires less, but supervision and help with planning can still take several hours a week.
Will you have reliable internet access and enough data? The amount needed will vary from school to school, but it might be one of the most important questions to ask before signing up for a virtual program. A good idea is to enroll your student in one class and measure data usage.
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