Is Online School The Same As Homeschool?

Sometimes figuring out the differences between online school and homeschooling can be a little tricky. Since Excel High School’s beginning, we have worked with families who wanted a fully online experience for their students as well as those who wanted to use our curriculum to supplement their students while homeschooling. Our educational experts have identified the following key differences between online schooling and homeschooling:

  • • Curriculum
  • • Staff Support
  • • Timelines
  • • State Requirements and Accreditation

The Curriculum

The first difference between fully online middle or high school is the curriculum. When you’re using a full-time online program, 100% of the curriculum is provided for you. As a parent of an online student, you don’t need to research, create, or grade anything. All of your child’s academic records are maintained and recorded by your student’s online high school. We provide you with the content, the videos, the quizzes, and the final exams for all of your child’s classes. Teachers provide feedback for your student’s essays, and our Registrar’s Office supplies your child’s official transcript. 

Homeschool families will often prefer to implement some of their own curriculum and supplement that with individual courses from an online source. Excel High School allows anyone to enroll in individual courses through our list of “Summer School” or “Credit Recovery” classes. These classes are the same classes we offer our full-time enrolled students, but parents can pick and choose which they want to use to supplement their own curriculum. Many homeschool families like to add faith-based courses to their curriculum through a provider like Northgate Academy, a 100% online Christian school.

Whether students are pursuing 100% online high school or wanting to take a few of our unique classes along with their family’s original homeschool curriculum, one thing remains the same. Using a pre-prepared online curriculum at any level frees up a parent’s time as curriculum developer and record keeper so that they can focus on supporting their student, encouraging them, and finding cool new ways to help their children become well-rounded, responsible adults.

Staff Support

Another difference between online school and homeschooling is the availability of staff support for both parents and students. Students attending traditional online schools like Excel have access to teachers who they can email from their dedicated learning management system. Every full-time enrolled middle or high school student also has an Academic Success Coach who both parents and students can reach out to for advice about scheduling, navigating our online system, or preparing for college. This takes that burden off the shoulders of parents, allowing them to focus on other ways to support their children. Full time students with EHS also have access to unlimited online tutoring through Train the Brain, where they can select a tutor, sign up for a session, and get tutoring from anywhere with an internet connection. We even offer an SAT Prep Course to help get your student ready for college admissions.

Homeschooled families have to navigate all of the curriculum explanations themselves unless they enroll their children in an online tutoring service like Train the Brain. Additionally, homeschool families are responsible for making sure they are clear on the requirements their children need to have in order to attend college or university. In other words, homeschool parents have to be parent, teacher, administrator, registrar, tutor, and academic advisor for their children. 

The Timeline

Most online schools have deadlines for when each grade level needs to be completed. For example, Excel High School provides each of our students 12 months to complete one grade level. While this is significantly more than the expectations of most traditional brick-and-mortar schools, this is different from families who fully homeschool their children. 

Excel’s 12-month flexibility still allows students to take breaks to explore other interests, travel with family, or complete projects to help them become more well-rounded individuals, but in true homeschooling, there is no such timeline. This can end up being a drawback for homeschoolers since sometimes the time gets away from you, and suddenly, your student is trying to catch up in order to graduate on time. 

State Requirements & Accreditation

The final major difference between online schooling and homeschooling is accreditation. Accreditation is how colleges and universities know your students has completed a reliable, academically sound program. Schools have to go through a rigorous documentation process where independent agencies take a look at the school’s curriculum, processes, and policies and sign off on the viability of the program. Accreditation ensures that a school like Excel meets specific nationally standardized criteria. In layman’s terms, accreditation means that a diploma from EHS is the same as a diploma from a traditional public high school.

Homeschool families have to keep meticulous records with samples of lesson plans, records of hours, and evidence of students work for many different states. States can request that students take and pass various standardized tests, and colleges or universities can deny admission if the family cannot show that their students has completed a legitimate and viable academic program. This record keeping can be stressful and even overwhelming for families, but it is absolutely possible to do; it just takes attention to detail and an organized system.

In the end, parents have the choice about which system works best for their family. Homeschooling has come a long way since the beginning of the homeschooling movement, and there are plenty of resources available online now, including supplemental courses from a trusted online school. The choice boils down to the time parents have available and their capacity to take on many different roles in their child’s educational career. Whichever way you go, as the person who knows and cares about your child better than anyone else, we know you’ll make the best choice for your child’s future.

Enrollment into one of the programs available at EHS is 100% online and is quick and easy! However, if you are interested in Excel High School and would like more information, feel free to contact us at 800-620-3844 or text us at 952-465-3700. Our knowledgeable admissions counselors will be happy to help you weigh your options and tell you more about what EHS can offer your family.

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