'Roam school': the future of education

A first-person story in the Wall Street Journal points out the exciting developments in homeschooling and digital learning and the growing possibilities of being able to “mix and match” different options to create the best K-12 schooling for our children.

The writer, Quinn Cummings, home-schools her child but hastens to point out that despite her friends’ worries, that doesn’t mean her child is isolated or unsocialized. “Everyone is worried that I keep my child in a crate with three air holes punched in it and won’t let her have friends until she gets her AARP card.” But home-schooled children do plenty of socializing, including with their own family members – what a concept!

She became aware of the many options for teaching and talks about the future of education: “As our habits evolve, it won’t be home schooling as we’ve known it, but it won’t be brick-and-mortar schooling, either. I call it ‘roam schooling.’”

This is a thrilling concept for me as a parent. For three years (kindergarten through second grade) I used digital learning with my daughter through Washington Online, an online option offered by Washington County School District.

The curriculum, purchased by the public school district from the private education company K12, was excellent. (And I learned a lot from it too, filling in some gaps from my own education!) The district assigned us a teacher; we checked in with her weekly and also talked with her at various Washington Online events.

However, when my daughter reached third grade, we sent her to our neighborhood public school because of changing family and work circumstances. Although she adjusted quickly and has done well, she’s interested in switching back to digital learning when she reaches junior high next year. I’m thrilled to see the opportunities within the public school system to customize her education.

As Cummings wrote:

Imagine that your high-school junior spends half of every day at the brick-and-mortar school up the street. Two afternoons a week, he logs into an art-history seminar being taught by a grad student in Paris. He takes computer animation classes at the local college, sings in the church choir and dives at the community pool. He studies Web design on YouTube. He and three classmates see a tutor at the public library who preps them for AP Chemistry. He practices Spanish on Skype and takes cooking lessons at a nearby restaurant every Saturday morning.

Is this home schooling or regular school? Who cares? He’s learning.