Virtual Learning: A Different Approach to Home Schooling

Virtual Academy Graduation
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SPARKS, Nev. -- While many students will be heading back to the classroom in ten days, some students are taking a different approach to learning. With just one click, students can gain all the benefits of a real classroom, from rigorous AP courses to active P.E. classes, without leaving the comforts of home.

After four years of public schooling, nine-year-old Eli Nightingale lost his passion for learning.

"He was just not very happy with going to school every day and I couldn't understand why and he just didn't want to learn anymore," Katie Nightingale, his mother said.

That's why this year, she decided to enroll him in Nevada Connections Academy. His younger brother, Matthew, has been enrolled for three years. It's a virtual classroom that allows Eli to learn at his own pace without the distractions.

"I felt like I was just stuck on everything and I couldn't really do anything, there's no freedom there," the nine-year-old said.

Now, like Matthew, he'll have a more flexible schedule to do extra curricular activities that interact with the community.

"We don't want our families to be tied to the desk. We want them to make the learning fun, we want them to be creative, get outside," Alison Thomas, Nevada Connections Academy kindergarten and first grade teacher said.

Even P.E. classes, like yoga, are offered to keep them engaged in learning. They're required to get at least 90 minutes of physical activity per week.

"With this particular program I am heavily involved and I get to spend more time with them. I love being a mom!" Nightingale said.

Teachers stay involved too. Even though they don't get to "see" their students on a daily basis, they have meetings with students over video chat or phone every week.

"I'm not distracted by 30 other kids messing around in the classroom, so when I do talk to them on the phone, I really get to know them and their families," Thomas said.

For Eli Nightingale, school starts on August 26, but he says he's ready to learn again.

"Sometimes if you just try something new maybe it can change."

The academy offers 150 field trips throughout the school year to give students a chance to socialize with each other face-to-face.

Students in grades K through 12 can enroll and, like public school, tuition is free.

To learn more about Nevada Connections Academy, visit the website below.