In-school learning v.s. virtual school: What is the best route for your little learner?

Getting kindergarteners and elementary school-age children to sit in front of a screen and pay attention is a challenge in virtual school and many parents have battled with the tough decision of whether to have their kids learn at home or in school.

"We’re both working parents, but I also think him being in a school environment, he’s going to get the most potential and most exposure to the learning he needs," Kelly Mullins, the parent of a seven-year-old boy, told FOX 35. She is sending her son back to a school she trusts, explaining that "I just feel like the comfort level was there."

However, another parent, Melissa Lymangrover, said that she is not ready to send her young child back just yet, stating that "we understand that the schools are going to be taking measures, but there will be a lot of risk involved."

She has enrolled her 8-year-old daughter, Maritza, in Orange County Virtual School. She actually has a Bachelor's Degree in elementary education and said that "I have the time to dedicate to do it so that's why I signed her up."

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Dr. William Gordon, the former Chief Operations Officer for Florida Virtual School, is now a lecturer of Educational Leadership at the University of Central Florida (UCF). He told FOX 35 that children as young as kindergarten age can succeed in a virtual school.

Dr. Gordon explained that in a virtual school, "they will actually hold class, the students will all come in, similar to like a Zoom session and the teacher will start the day with some sort of singing and song, they’ll have readings, very similar to what happens in a kindergarten class."

If a student hasn't mastered what they are studying, then they do not advance to the next lesson. 

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Many parents worry though that virtual school does not allow for their little learners to interact with other kids. Dr. Gordon says don't worry though because "you find there are opportunities to socialize with others during class time. However, there are a lot of networks out there within communities where parents are doing that."

In fact, Melissa does that. Her daughter is a girl scout and she said that "I know at that moment, I am present with her and I can make sure she has a mask on while she has interactions. I can make sure there is a safe physical distance and at the same time I can make sure that at the same time she’s getting those social needs."

Melissa assures others "don't be afraid. You can definitely do it. You have the tools as parents, you know what is best for your child."

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the rest of the FOX 35 Classroom Survival Guide as schools prepare to reopen.