The Family Project: Cyber school?
Q. The school year is just beginning and my daughter is talking about switching to cyber school. My husband and I don’t like the idea of her sitting in her room on the computer more than she already does, but I also want to be sensitive to the idea that kids do get bullied, and school is tough for some kids. Please help.
The consensus of the panel is that switching to a cyber school is a very complicated decision, with serious logistical and social ramifications to be considered.
For one thing, there are all kinds of cyber schools, panelist Erin Stalsitz said: “Some operate through the school district and follow its curriculum closely. Others are more independent.”
There are also differences in the way cyber schools schedule student studies, panelist Pam Wallace said: “Some require students to log in at specific times. Other go-at-your-own pace schools give students syllabi with deadlines for completing assignments.”
“No decision should be made until the parents have consulted with the home school district,” panelist Mike Daniels said, adding, “The professionals can provide information about the different cyber schools, as well suggest other options that are available.”
The school guidance counselor also might be able to shed light on why the daughter wants to transfer to cyber school, panelist Denise Continenza said.
“Cyber schools are not for every child,” panelist Mike Ramsey said, adding, “In this case, what I’m concerned about is that the young lady already is struggling with social issues, and participating in cyber school would allow her to go even deeper into herself. She also would be denied the ability to build resilience and problem-solving skills.”
Parents should talk to their daughter about her interest in cyber school, Daniels said. He suggested beginning by saying, “Cyber school. That’s an interesting idea. What made you think of it?”
The conversation could also include asking the daughter what she knows about cyber schools. If she hasn’t done so already, Daniels said, the parents could ask her to research the subject and get back to them on what she has found out.
Ramsey emphasized that if bullying is the reason the daughter wants to leave school, the parents should understand that that doesn’t mean the bullying will stop.
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, program coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Denise Continenza, extension educator; Erin Stalsitz, Lehigh Children & Youth; Mike Ramsey, program supervisor, Valley Youth House, and Mike Daniels, LCSW, owner/therapist, Creative Treatment Solutions.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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