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Family Focus: Online schooling - What's it really like?

During School Choice Week, some families are exploring other education options.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Bobbie Beaty's two sons have always done public schooling, but when she heard a friend had chosen online school for her children, she was intrigued.

"I'm like, 'OK, we'll try it',” she said. “It's been awesome. His grades turned right around.”

There are many online school options, and much of it is tuition free. There are both public school online and homeschooling online. But many of these options require a certain amount of screen time. For Beaty, she says screen time works better than wasted time.

"It's getting the kids up and getting them to school - they always want to enjoy their nighttime. And it's hard once your kids get older to get them - to physically force them - to do something.”

If you don’t have a computer at home, many online school options will send you a laptop and everything else you need to succeed.

“You can take that laptop and lay in your bed if you choose,” Beaty said.

Tyler Reyes uses Ohdela. It stands for Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy. The website says it’s a virtual online public charter school for kindergarten through grade 12. And Tyler says he loves it.

“The resources that they give you… videos…" he said.

Mom loves it too.  

“It's awesome. There's no longer any fighting or arguing for them to get up , put their clothes on and get out the door. It's ‘cmon’ - it's a lot easier- ‘cmon.. get on your computer,’” Beaty said.

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She says the online school day starts at 8:45 a.m. and they are required to attend four 45 minute classes before and after lunch.

“[You can] very much interact with it. It's not just something they are assigned to do and they do,” Beaty said.

And they still do some projects and are offered field trips.

“Everything is kind of like college. It's a soft due date.”

Beaty said she does see possible drawbacks.

“My oldest- he’s 14- he's not going to be able to attend like say a wood shop or you know those certain electives that they're allowed to attend in public schooling - and that's the only thing."

But if trying it out, she said the transition is easy.

“They did all of the contacting of the attending school - withdrawing, they mailed this [the computer] - set everything up. We didn't have to do anything with this either. We opened it right up - everything was already programmed - we just had to learn how to navigate everything.

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