Oaks Christian Online Learning Academy homeschool academy

Partner School Reflections: Addressing Alternative Education

Let’s face it, alternative education is on the rise!  For many Christian schools this is an exciting opportunity to serve students and families in new and meaningful ways. 

That said, the more families expect to be able to structure and restructure their child’s experience to suit their unique needs and preferences, the more expensive supplying education becomes.  And the harder it is to schedule.  And coordinate.  And even to staff.   

At OC Online we partner with schools around the world to help address these complexities so that they can provide for families the alternative solutions they have now come to expect.  

Partnering with OC Online means having a solution for one-off needs like: 

  • Schedule Conflicts 
  • Low Enrolled Sections  
  • Taking a Fall Class in Spring (or vice versa) 
  • Getting Ahead 
  • Travel or Medical Circumstances 
  • AP classes 
  • Specialty Classes 
  • Enrichment & Community Classes 
  • College Counseling 
  • Early Graduation 
  • Independent Study 


Addressing Unique Academic Circumstances  

Imagine a high school student wants to take both AP Economics and Engineering.  Since these are unique courses, their school only offers one of each and they both run during 4th period.  The student cannot take both so now they have to pick just one. 

Or suppose the stakes are even higher and a student needs a certain course at a certain time in order to graduate—or graduate early.  Like a fall class in the spring.  Or a class that allows them to be in the hospital recovering from an injury for 8 weeks.  Or out of the country for a 2-week trip to Ireland.  Or complete high school a semester early to start training in college sports sooner.  

As a result of these kinds of situations, many schools end up with dissatisfied parents or even lose kids entirely because school scheduling is just more complicated than most families understand.  Adding more sections and classes often means overextending the current faculty and asking them to teach too many sections.  Or sometimes it means teaching a section they feel insecure about.  Hiring more teachers is a nice idea, but for most schools this is not possible because of budget and hiring limitations.  Moreover, even if you can supply enough teachers, that doesn’t mean they can rework their entire lesson plan to allow a kid to be absent for an extended amount of time.  These kinds of accommodations are just nearly impossible to address.  

What we find here at OC Online is that schools that partner with us appreciate that they can respond to unique student requests without having to upend their program.  Instead, the partner school can offer the family a hybrid solution where some of their courses are in person and some online here at OC Online.  This can be a few classes, or even just that one class they need or want.  What we love about this is that it allows the student to address their unique need without having to switch schools.  Moreover, the school knows they can responsibly send a student to take a class or two with OC Online, without compromising faith commitments or academic challenge.  And because—as we like to say—the internet never closes, the course can be done anywhere in the world and at any time of the day (or night!). 


Serving the Whole Student 

In addition to academic provisions, families are also looking for more from their school; things like social and enrichment opportunities as well as spiritual care and college counselling are important to parents.  Many Christian schools have a version of these offerings, but struggle to fund the full range of support options that would best serve their students—especially if enrollment numbers are low.  It’s difficult, for example, to hire a school chaplain for a school with 18 kids.  Often this results in staff and community members being volunteered (or even voluntold) in ways that can quickly lead to burnout.  Having a Chemistry teacher also lead a Bible study, and baking club, and speak at chapel once a month is often exhausting and sometimes doesn’t play to their strengths.  Likewise, having a college counselor oversee 100 students without curriculum support often means students aren’t given the chance to explore their unique fit.  Here’s one student put it:  

The adult leaders of this [homeschool] community give everything for the children. No funding goes to it, so basically most of the leaders volunteer their time for us.  [For example] our asb teacher is a doctor in our local community and she clears time in her busy schedule to lead an [enrichment] class for us. (senior in HS)  

While this model is certainly admirable, it may not be sustainable on its own.  In the case of this student, for example, she is now a part of both this homeschool cooperative and OC Online.  She did not have to pick one or the other.  

At OC Online, we want to offer the option to offload some of these important extra and co-curricular resources—even if it’s just for a short time.  Having students enroll in College Counseling or Spiritual Life with OC Online even for a season, gives time for more fundraising or a lengthier hiring process, allowing schools to find out the right whole-student solution, without having to scramble to fill a need.  

If you’d like to talk with us about how to add more flexibility and uniqueness to your program, we’d love to chat.  You can reach out at online@oakschristian.org.  

Subscribe to our Blog​