7 Differences – Homeschool vs. Charter Cyber Schools

July 9, 2013

Boy online doing school work

State run PUBLIC CHARTER CYBER SCHOOLS have been quite controversial in recent years.

Many HOMESCHOOLERS HAVE CONSIDERED using the services cyber charter schools offer at the cost of freedom.

There is definitely a trade-off between the help homeschoolers may need financially or educationally to teach their children vs. their ability to choose the content of their curriculum’s, values, faith and learning pace.

Ultimately, each family has to decide what combination of options work best for them.




1. Structure : The biggest difference is the highly structured learning for the kids the cyber school offers. This can be a blessing and a curse. While the kids can stay on track better by the cyber school’s pace and external pressure, this sometimes is detrimental and potentially very devastating to students who do not learn at the school’s pace.

This is not to say cyber schooled kids are physically more structured however, they still may school in PJs around the house, sit on the floor, read in bed or whatever. Usually older cyber schooled students spend more time online to complete their studies than traditionally homeschooled students. Parents of cyberschooled students definitely must spend more time online for reporting and monitoring. This digital requirement requires diligent internet safety measures to be implemented as well as a plan to balance their students offline time to compensate.

2. Curriculum: There are a variety of curriculum choices available in the different cyber schools. These choices however are dependent upon the state’s education laws. So if you are in a highly regulated state ALL the schools within the state are going to require kids to jump through many hoops. They need them to perform well according to the state standards testing. Again, this can be a blessing and a curse.

Also, if you have differing faith based views than the standard curriculum you have to do more monitoring and re-teaching your children. This may require more work in the end compared to homeschooling.

3. Freedom: This one goes without saying. Teachable moments arrive in every family. While cyber schools go on to the NEXT lesson as usual, homeschooling allows the family to stop for a while and pursue interesting lessons, concepts or character issues. Homeschooling also lends itself well to family travel and responsibilities. Cyber schools tend to be very controlling and time consuming.




4. Supplies: Public cyber schools are usually free with little financial impact on the family. Many also offer a bit of extra financial support for a local class. Homeschooling can cost quite a bit as the students get older. These paid homeschool materials however are usually more tailored to the students’ learning modality. They may also better reflect the faith, interests and values of the family.

5. Support: One of the biggest potential benefits of cyber schooling is the help that the home facilitator receives from teachers and administrators outside the home. This same benefit can be had to some extent with a curriculum based homeschool co-op (group of families working together & usually meeting on a weekly basis). It can also be obtained at a cost by purchasing online classes in individual subjects or through online academies. The truth is cyber schools vary in the support the students ACTUALLY get. Some cyber schools give mostly pressure to perform and not much tutoring help while others are extremely supportive and nurturing.

6. Busy-work: Cyber schools tend to require students to complete more busywork to create an effective paper-trail that proves learning. Homeschoolers are also required in most states to prove learning has taken place. Overall however, homeschooling tends to require less time on the student’s part doing busywork. Busywork time then can be used to pursue the students personal electives. For students with time-consuming electives that may potentially lead to a career, this may be a factor in their decision. 

7. School Identity: Many homeschoolers grow up outside of the traditional “school pride” and identity that is had by attending a brick-and-mortar school. This doesn’t seem to effect them later in life…especially if they go on to graduate from traditional college.

SOME cyber school students engage in their online “community” within their schools and attend their scheduled events and activities in person. This lends itself to more socialization of the child. Homeschoolers can also get a sense of school community if they grow up attending a homeschool co-op that is useful and has a lot of families.

There are tons of resources on this subject, here are a few:

Homeschooling vs. Cyberschooling

HSLDA Position on Charter Schools

Cyberschooling Information

Why Virtual Public School is Not Really Homeschool

Heloise "Lois" Ridley, MBA

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Heloise (Lois) Ridley, MBA helps parents "Get OFF the CRAZY cycle.... and onto a path of peace" She loves to encourage, instruct and empower parents and youth to live and impact the world around them. Heloise speaks and trains in workshops for internet safety, home education and parenting issues to equip today's busy parents. She specializes in helping parents create a "Character Based Internet Safety Net" in their homes to protect their children online wherever they go. She also offers Coaching and Training to families that need more support to implement their plan. Heloise also speaks and coaches parents: ...from baby basics, ...to pre-school antics, ...to study skills & education, ...to the eventful teen years. She is passionate about equipping "stressed out moms": ...with practical tools ...strategies ...and a clear understanding of God's role as Partner, Provider and Helper in the parenting process.