With plenty of learning experiences going digital, you likely have a lot of questions, and maybe a few concerns. How effective is online learning? What are the advantages of virtual programs? The answers to those and other queries will vary from child to child and program to program.
You might be skeptical about online education for kids, and with how new the concept is, that’s understandable. But virtual learning exercises and activities provide excellent opportunities. Kids get to learn and interact with others, all from home. Consult this parents’ guide to kids online learning programs to find the answers to your questions and see if digital programs are right for your child.
Do Kids Like Online Learning and Activities?
This will depend on your child, but in general, kids love any sort of engaging activity! Some kids may enjoy online learning activities even more as they’re a change from in-person schooling. Add something new to your child’s routine with an online summer camp or similar program, and they may enjoy these other benefits:
- The opportunity to interact with peers and teachers from home.
- Individualized experiences with learning.
- The ability to work at their own pace.
- The chance to learn something new.
- The responsibility of an independent program.
Kids will be more likely to enjoy online activities and learning if it involves a topic they’re interested in. Chat with your child to see what they’d like to experience and what they’d enjoy. Then, find what suits their interests, like online STEM programs for elementary students who enjoy science, technology, engineering or math.
How Effective Is Online Learning?
How effective and engaging online programs for kids will be all depends on your child and their instructors. It’ll also vary based on what your child is learning. Research into online learning’s effectiveness is a growing field. Current information shows it may not be as effective for challenging school subjects.
In one study, researchers placed students who failed Algebra I into online and in-person recovery programs. The students who received in-person instruction were more successful in that they got higher scores. They also rated their class as easier, in contrast to the online students who thought the course was difficult.
That research isn’t to say that virtual camp activities wouldn’t be successful for your child. Many online programs focus on the fun of learning and explore subjects your child may already be familiar with or interested in. Online education for kids is a new and expanding field, as well. Instructors can improve over time as they see what does and doesn’t work.
A large part of what makes online learning useful and engaging is the instructor’s ability. Online teachers should understand the challenges of digital programs. They’ll address those hurdles by:
- Acknowledging what participants know.
- Mastering their abilities on how to teach students new material.
- Knowing how to navigate the distractions that come with online learning.
- Encouraging students’ engagement.
If your child’s instructor offers you the opportunity to chat, take it. You can make your child’s online school activities or learning programs more dynamic and engaging by getting involved. Let the instructor know what your kid struggles with and what could make the program adequate for them. Depending on the size of the online course, your child’s instructor may be able to accommodate certain needs for a successful experience.
The effectiveness of virtual camps and learning programs extends past the experience itself. Children who participate in online learning programs for elementary kids could benefit now and in the future. They’ll adjust to online learning platforms and learn how to adapt to make online learning more productive for themselves.
How Involved Do Parents Need to Be When Kids Attend Online Classes, Camps or Programs?
Regardless of your education or experience, getting involved can help your child be successful. That involvement may be as simple as helping your child get logged in and ready for a virtual program. If you can participate in a more significant way, you should do so — some kids may need more attention than others. You may need to get involved with:
- Younger kids: Young kids may not have much internet knowledge and will need help navigating the digital side of things. They may also need guidance on virtual classroom behavior.
- Kids with attention difficulties: If you find that your child often has trouble focusing, you may need to get involved in their online learning. Keep them on track and walk them through assignments or tasks.
- Kids who have never done a virtual program: Most kids haven’t engaged in virtual camp activities or learning programs. Get a bit more involved if this is a new experience for your child. Help them log in and give them tips for using the digital program’s software or website.
- Kids engaging with challenging program material: Those in online science courses for kids or other challenging programs may need more involvement from you. Study or complete experiments, builds and challenges with them.
How Much Individual Attention Do Kids Receive in Online Learning Programs?
Individual attention varies based on the size of the online course. Even large courses, though, may break off into smaller sections to ensure your child gets the individual attention they need. As you select from educational online programs for kids, take these steps to ensure your child receives the attention they need:
- Choose a course that caps enrollment.
- Find a course that breaks into smaller groups.
- Ask the instructor about individual attention.
- Pick a program for your child’s age group or learning abilities.
Instructors that specialize in online learning for kids should understand what will help kids succeed. They’ll be able to address kids’ individual needs and give extra time to those who need it if they can.
Are Kids Still Able to Interact With Other Students?
Many online programs feature video chat sessions and various ways for students to communicate. Your child will still get to make new friends but in a digital format. Certain programs put kids into groups to complete their experiments together. Others may conduct courses using a virtual classroom with video conference calls. Instructors can then encourage kids to interact with each other in that setting.
If an online program is set up to encourage social interaction, your child’s comfort will also be a factor. Some kids may find socializing virtually to be difficult or new at first. Support and encourage your child through this process so they can get the most out of their digital interactions.
Are Online Learning Programs Safe and Secure?
When kids are using a digital format, online programs may raise a few questions about internet safety. With a trustworthy course and a few proactive steps on your part, you can make a safe and secure experience for your child’s virtual program.
Start by installing a simple but reliable antivirus protection on your child’s computer, which you probably already have. Then, have a conversation with your child about internet safety. Teach your kid these ways of staying safer in an online program:
- Only visit sites related to the program.
- Avoid sharing any login information.
- Avoid sharing login details if an email requests it unless you check it first for authenticity.
- Choose a unique and secure password.
- Look for a lock or green symbol by the URL of programs’ sites to know they’re secure.
- Watch out for odd site behavior, like pop-ups or slow loading times.
- Alert you to any strange site behavior or emails, or come to you with questions they have about internet safety.
You may have to monitor your child’s time online if they’re younger and aren’t familiar with staying safe on the internet just yet. Use their online course as an opportunity to educate them about staying safe online.
Online vs. In-Person Learning
As you’re thinking about an online learning program, you may wonder how it compares to an in-person experience. As always, that’ll vary between what programs are available to you and your child. But there are some general comparisons to make between the two opportunities. Consider the pros and cons of online learning for students vs. in-person lessons to compare the two.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Online Learning for Students?
To see if virtual options are right for your child, consider kids online learning pros and cons. For online summer learning programs, you may find these advantages:
- Flexible schedules: One of the greatest benefits of online learning is its flexibility. If you’re unable to take your child to in-person summer learning programs, this is where the advantage of enrolling in online courses comes in. You won’t need to take off work or arrange a ride for your child to go to a summer program if all they need to do is hop on a computer.
- Different programs: Perhaps your location doesn’t offer summer programs. You’d have to travel far to take your child to an in-person camp, and you may not have the time. For schooling, you may not like your local public or private options for learning programs and in-person instruction. In either case, online learning opens up a world of educational opportunities for your child.
- More possibilities: If your child is homebound for any reason, they can make new friends and have learning experiences online. Looking into online courses could be easier than researching accessible, local in-person programs because you’ll have a wider selection.
- Catch-up opportunities: Many students use online learning courses to catch up on subjects or classes they’re behind in. If your child struggles in a particular course, look into online programs that supplement or enhance learning opportunities, which your kid’s school may not offer.
With those benefits of online learning, of course, come some cons. A few of the disadvantages include navigating:
- Technological difficulties: If you or your child aren’t tech-savvy, there may be a learning curve to online programs. You may also need to have a bit of patience for any connection or technological issues, either on your end or the instructor’s.
- Attention troubles: Younger kids, in particular, may need you to supervise their online learning. If an online program is more independent, you’ll need to schedule time to help your child through the experience.
- Less outside time: Depending on the online activity you choose, your kids may end up spending most of their time inside. Of course, you can supplement these programs with your own outdoor activities as a family if you have the time and space, but that may not work for everyone.
- More screen time: If you emphasize limited screen time in your household, online programs would have to be a compromise. You could alternatively choose programs that feature a combination of online instruction or video chats and activities away from the computer.
Those online learning disadvantages will vary based on your child and their experiences, so you should still consider online school activities for their array of advantages.
What Are the Pros and Cons of In-Person Learning for Students?
The benefits of online learning don’t mean that in-person learning shouldn’t be an option. Many kids thrive in face-to-face environments. For in-person learning, pros include:
- In-person attention: Some children thrive with and learn better from in-person instruction. They’ll be able to focus and absorb more information if they sit in a classroom or work one-on-one with an instructor.
- Quicker response time for your child: In-person programs offer a fast response time, which is a notable benefit for your kid. If your child has a question, they’ll ask their instructor and get immediate feedback, which many kids thrive on. Of course, online programs that feature video chats will occasionally have this benefit, as well.
- Quicker response time for you: If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s progress, you can ask their instructor in person. Address any issues or let your kid’s instructor know of any concerns and get immediate feedback with a face-to-face class.
The cons of in-person learning mainly involve accessibility. That’ll vary based on where you live and what you have access to, but in general, you may see these disadvantages with face-to-face programs:
- Limited program availability: For in-person programs, what’s near you is what your child can take. You may have a limited selection of courses, meaning you’d have to compromise or pick a program your child may not enjoy.
- Less flexibility for your schedule: In-person programs may have a stricter schedule to adhere to. You’ll have to plan your days around when to drop off and pick up your child or arrange for someone else to.
- Difficulty getting there and cancellations: Severe weather, instructor cancellations or changes to your schedule mean your child could miss out on in-person courses. While instructors can cancel a virtual lesson, there’s less standing in the way of your child enjoying an online course.
How Do You Choose Between Online and In-Person Learning?
Ultimately, what’ll work best for your child depends on your family, your kid’s needs and your available local programs. To choose between virtual camp activities and online programs or in-person classes, you should:
- Do your research: Look into face-to-face and online programs near you. Talk to fellow parents to see what their kids enjoyed, read reviews and speak with your child’s teachers. Their regular instructors may have suggestions for what could work for your child.
- Talk with your child: Learn about your kid’s interests to pick the best learning experience, whether it’s virtual or in person. Talk with your child about concerns they have for either online or in-person programs if they’re old enough.
- Talk with potential instructors: As you look into courses, see if you can speak with the instructor. For online programs, ask what they do to keep kids engaged. For in-person options, ask what makes their teaching engaging and effective.
Register for Online Camps With Destination Science
At Destination Science, our online science programs for kids explore STEM with games, challenges and fun. If your child is a rising kindergartner to sixth grader, they’re sure to enjoy our programs! Your kid will learn something new or have fun strengthening skills and knowledge that they’ve already started learning. Our online learning programs for kids feature half- and full-day options. Choose what’s perfect for your schedule, whether it’s a two-hour or three-and-a-half-hour course.
Register for camps with Destination Science and experience our goal of promoting online science for kids. We’ve got fun down to a science, so register today to spur a love for the STEM field in your child!