Opting out of Public School: Non-Traditional K-12 Education Options Reply

Public school is not always the right fit for every student. When looking into alternatives, families want to know which style of education will best suit their child. Whether leaving the public school system or never entering it at all, there are many options when it comes to non-traditional K-12 schooling.


Homeschooling is when a child is educated primarily by their parent at home. Homeschooling has come a long way in recent years as more and more parents have sought out alternatives to public school and were unhappy with their local private school options.

Many homeschoolers follow a set curriculum and others piecemeal their studies, pulling from different resources. Homeschooling allows the family to learn together and work on projects as a team, allowing the student to feel supported and assume a leadership role in a safe environment.

It is an incorrect and unfortunate stereotype that homeschoolers never leave home and are woefully un-socialized. Most homeschool families take part in classes, clubs, groups, co-ops and the like to give the homeschooled student a well-rounded education. Many states even have homeschool sports teams and gym classes.

Online Schooling

Accessibility to technology and the internet has allowed for a rise in children being educated at home through an online school program. Many homeschool parents choose to augment their curriculums with an online program such as Connections Academy.

Online programs are taught by experienced teachers who follow a curriculum. They teach lessons, interact with their students, give tests and quizzes and keep records of the students’ grades. The services that online schools provide is extremely helpful when it comes to taking some of the pressure off of the homeschool parents’ shoulders.


When a parent wishes to erase the influences of the public school system, time spent unschooling may be the ideal option. Unschooling does not involve any set curriculum or standards. It allows students to freely follow their interests without the constraints of assignments, grades and schedules.

Private Education

Private education is most commonly found at religious academies. Families who are seeking out a more faith-based education may find their schooling match with a private religious school. Parents of non-religious students considering religious education should be aware that the religion themes run strong and will be prevalent throughout the student’s educational career while studying there.

While far less common, there are some secular private schools scattered throughout the country. Sometimes going under the names of Democratic schools, Waldorf Schools or Montessori Schools, they all offer a unique approach to non-public education. With an emphasis placed on nature studies, independence and creativity, secular private schools attract many non-traditional students and families.

Military School

Military school used to be the thing of threats made by parents to misbehaving youth. Now, it is a viable education option for students looking for high-quality academics and post-graduation opportunities.

Military schools have a low dropout rate compared to that of public schools. They also boast excellent sports teams and the chance to learn independence and respect. Many military schools are boarding schools where the students live on the school’s campus, but others may offer schooling services to local students without requiring that they live on campus.

Non-traditional educational routes are gaining in popularity every year. Public schools are traditionally under-funded and over-crowded, which results in many parents looking for alternatives for their child. With so many quality options available, there is bound to be one that will provide the ideal educational environment for your student.

About the author: Anica is a professional content and copywriter from San Francisco, California. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.

All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Tech for Teaching: 5 Awesome Electronic Tools for Educators Reply

Learning is often an unpleasant experience for kids, from elementary school right up through high school graduation. Traditional classroom instruction is tedious. Ironically, this is even truer for gifted students. But today’s generation of students identifies more than any previous generation with technology. Odds are that half your class by junior high school will have their own smartphone and selection of apps. You can make classes more interesting for students by introducing useful tools for educators. At the same time, you’ll make the teaching experience easier on yourself.

Project Management

You can start treating homework or class assignments as formalized projects. Depending on the age of your students, productivity software like spreadsheets, desktop publishing, graphics programs, video editing, file sharing, and more can help them become more engaged. Some of these programs are available via the cloud, or offered as special student editions at low cost or for free. The hands-on nature of using apps is an immersive experience that encourages participation and so makes classroom management easier.

Printing 3D Objects

A 3D printer is now available as affordable desktop devices. While the high temperatures involved make them inappropriate for young children, they are endlessly fascinating for older kids. The printers utilize various 3D design programs to create digital files that the printer software translates into 3D objects, usually by fusing together layers of plastic filament. You can create anything from historical landmarks to molecules at scale. It gives kids a chance to explore such concepts as computer-aided drawing, design and review processes, and real-life STEM applications, not to mention history, art, biology, and anything else you can prepare models for. The fun and fascination of creating solid objects enables them to better understand and retain what you’re trying to teach.

Website Portals

You might also consider setting up a classroom page of your own. This can be done as cheaply as a few dollars a month. Students can access it to stay informed and become more engaged. For example, you could post test results, upcoming exams, lessons, current study assignments, and other topics related to your curriculum or the school in general. Making important information available online will free you from answering a lot of questions and repeating notices and instructions. Kids and parents can login from home to check homework assignments, prepare for the next day’s lesson, get feedback, and more.

Teach Typing

Handwriting may be dead, but keyboards aren’t. Children who are expert at texting will find that actual typing is important to good communication skills in an adult world of emails, reports, proposals, and other demands for the written word. Learning to type at an early age will become a life-long habit. With software and the internet, typing can be a part of learning English. There are a number of applications for teaching typing to children by making it fun. When they learn to type, you can start asking for digital files via email rather than paperwork. This will save you from the clutter and filing chores of hard copies.


There are any number of online training courses on many subjects for children of every age. E-learning modules can incorporate gamification or technologies like VR (virtual reality) or AR (augmented reality) to make lessons interactive. Kids can learn at their own pace, save their progress, and log in again the next day to continue from the same point. Automated testing can also enable you to evaluate their learning progress in real time and tabulate individual or classroom scores on a variety of subjects. With each student immersed in their own online lessons, you’ll have more time on your hands and a lot more peace and quiet.

Any technology that illustrates or demonstrates classroom lessons is an invaluable teaching aid. It also allows children to gain real-life experiences and skills. Best of all, project and productivity tools can help to document and streamline your own management efforts.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Digital Degrees: How to Thrive in an Online College Program Reply

Online education has opened up many opportunities for people who need a flexible and affordable way to study. There are now digital degrees in every conceivable subject. As with any type of education, however, it’s important to do your research and choose the degree program and institution that’s right for you.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of an online college program.

Pursue Online Studies in an Organized Manner

Although online studies are extremely flexible and convenient, in some ways they requires more discipline than a traditional degree program. You have the freedom to create your own schedule. However, this also means you have to find the right place to study and avoid distractions.

Be careful that you don’t approach your studies in a manner that’s too casual. Create a consistent time and place for studying and stick to it. While you’re attending online classes or completing assignments, stay away from social media, your phone and other distractions.

Consider Healthcare Degrees

The healthcare industry is booming. There is actually a shortage of people to fill many positions in this field. There are ample opportunities for nurse practitioners, physical therapists, pharmacists, laboratory assistants and others in the fast-growing medical field.

One of the most convenient ways to pursue a healthcare degree is online. You can find lots of quality digital degrees that will prepare you for a lucrative healthcare career.

Research Online Degree Programs in Unexpected Subjects

While you can certainly get an online degree in healthcare, business administration, computer science and other popular fields, there are also dozens of other possibilities. You can prepare for a career as a casino worker, forest ranger, sports agent and many other less typical jobs.

There may be online degree programs you’ve never considered. For example, an online bachelor’s degree in safety prepares you for a job that helps keep employees safe at work. The possibilities are endless.

Take Advantage of All Available Resources

When you enroll in an online degree program, you have many helpful resources at your disposal. Many of these can help you succeed in your coursework and avoid feeling isolated. For example, you should not hesitate to contact instructors with questions and comments.

Most online courses provide ways for students to connect as well. When you have study partners and ask each other questions, your online course is more like a traditional class. Every digital degree program has its own features and benefits. Make sure you familiarize yourself with these so you get the most out of your studies.

Online education has come a long way over the last decade. You can now study almost anything online that you could study in a traditional classroom. By identifying the degree program that matches your goals, you can earn a degree at your own pace and study wherever and whenever it’s convenient for you.

About the author: Anica is a professional content and copywriter from San Francisco, California. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.

All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

College on the Web: Comparing the Pros and Cons of Online School Reply

Internet technologies have changed education. Via online classrooms, students can study anywhere, anytime. However, online classes and degrees also have drawbacks. If you’re thinking about taking an online degree, it’s best to look at the pros and cons before you do.

Pro: It’s Convenient

One of the big pluses of online education is convenience. You don’t have to commute further than your home office to “attend” class. You log onto class when it’s convenient for you, even if it’s the middle of the night. Many online classes are asynchronous so you don’t have to study at a specific time. For those classes that aren’t, you can use free technologies like Skype and Google Hangouts to meet up with professors and peers.

Pro: Access Majors That Your Home University Doesn’t Offer

It used to be that you had to move out of your house, and sometimes out of your hometown, to study certain majors. While it’s an exciting prospect to study in a different city, that option isn’t always available to people, especially non-traditional students who have families and jobs.

Kristy English of Portland State University expressed how critical an online degree was for her. She looked at a few schools before deciding on Portland State. She felt that her criminal justice degree would help her to help her community. Fortunately, she didn’t need to leave her community or her job since she could study criminology online.

Con: It Can be Hard to Find Quiet Time

Students who need sequestered places to study might find the online environment challenging. Students at traditional universities can go to the library or the study in the quiet of the lounge. Online students often have to work around family, pets, and co-workers to get their work done. This makes it hard to concentrate at times.

Con: An Online Degree Requires Self-Discipline

If you have trouble getting to class at a traditional university, it’ll probably be more challenging when you’re getting an online degree. Classes on campus force you to focus and to set aside specific times for work. Students who lack that kind of self-discipline may falter in an online class. It’s easy to forget about class when you don’t have a set schedule to follow.

Final Thoughts on Online Degrees

Online degree programs have opened up educational opportunities for all sorts of students. They allow people to study when it’s convenient for them. However, they also require a great deal of discipline and don’t offer the quiet spaces a traditional university does. If you’re looking at some online degrees, be sure to be honest about how well you’ll do with the cons as well as the pros before deciding on a program.

About the author: Anica is a professional content and copywriter from San Francisco, California. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.

All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.


5 Pluses and 5 Minuses about Online Education 2

Smiling confident businesswomanSo many are trying to figure out what the future of higher education will look like, when there are so many competing factors and difficulties. This Intelligence Squared debate is a great example of some of the competing tensions. It raises many, many good questions, and many potential answers. It’s worth listening to if you’ve any interest in where higher education is going. Below, you’ll find summaries of the 5 main advantages of online education, and the 5 main disadvantages of online education, as argued by the folks in the debate.