Elementary education has arrived at the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS)! Before you enroll, let’s look at the program and see if it fits your family's needs.
Who is VLACS?
Stopping by for the first time? Welcome to VLACS! We are a state-approved charter school, public school, and a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
For us, it all started in May 2007 when the New Hampshire Board of Education approved our charter application, which allowed us to award high school diplomas and academic credits. By January 2008, our school opened its virtual doors to students with nearly 700 active enrollments. Today, we have served over 13,000 students with middle school, high school, and adult education, making us one of the largest statewide virtual schools in the country.
Expanding to Elementary Education
The elementary school pilot launched Spring 2020, offering Math, Language Arts, Technology, and Spanish courses to students in fourth and fifth grade. As with all of our programs, students can enroll part-time, in conjunction with their education at their brick-and-mortar school or their home education. Students can enroll at any time and begin their course(s) as early as May 18!
It doesn’t stop there… in Fall 2020, the program will expand to offer Science, Social Studies, Art, and Physical Education courses! Students can enroll in these offerings any time after June 1, with courses scheduled to start August 24.
Can fourth and fifth-grade students successfully learn online?
Online learning at the elementary level offers your child lots of options to learn.
By taking courses online, students are granted the freedom and flexibility to learn in ways that best suit their needs. Online learning engages students with different learning styles.
At VLACS, we use a competency-based model that empowers students to take ownership of their learning by determining when, where, and how they will learn. We define competencies as the big ideas that students are expected to master before moving on in their course. Think of mastering an academic competency like earning a karate belt. To move up a belt in karate, you must first demonstrate that you have mastered the knowledge and skills to advance to the next level.
The same goes for competency-based learning. To move on in their VLACS work, students must first show mastery of a specific concept. Students can practice for as long as they need and show mastery when they’re ready. After students demonstrate that they have mastered every competency, their course will be complete!
Here is an example of a competency that is part of the Elementary Language Arts Grade 4 competency group:
Students will demonstrate an understanding of context clues by using them to make inferences, describe story elements, and learn the meaning of words or phrases.
Using a competency-based approach, students can learn at a pace that meets their individual learning needs. Students can accelerate their pace to learn at a quicker rate, or modify their pace to take as much time as they need to master academic competencies.
Aside from mastering competencies, there are long term benefits of online learning. As students become acquainted with virtual eduaction, they begin to develop essential life skills early on. The technology, independence, discipline, and ways they communicate in a virtual setting, all contribute to strengthening students’ practical life skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication. These skills transfer well into adolescence and adulthood when they will become even more vital for higher education, employment, and beyond.
What is the parent’s role in their student’s online education?
Parents play a crucial role in their child’s online education, too!
Online learning at the elementary level requires guidance and supervision. You will be there every step of the way to cheer your child on. To help your child succeed, you should develop a work schedule, create a proper workspace, and coach your child along their academic journey.
Who will be teaching elementary courses?
Just as the parent’s role is important, so is the teacher’s.
Relationships are a crucial aspect of the learning process. That’s why our instructors are committed to forming positive relationships with their students that fosters a strong sense of trust, belonging, and respect. Instructors work closely with their students to cultivate these relationships during their time in our elementary program. In turn, establishing these relationships provides students with a safe space to learn.
When you enroll your child at VLACS Elementary, they will be able to form a lasting bond with their instructor, just as they would in a traditional elementary program. And for a more personalized learning experience, students are assigned to the same instructor for all of their core courses (Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies).
Before you begin your course, your instructor will introduce you and your child to the program during your welcome call to identify all of your child’s educational goals. Together, you will form an academic plan to ensure that the necessary support is in place to accomplish each of those goals. After your welcome call, you will receive monthly calls to discuss your student’s progress.
Every instructor will offer an appointment and office hours so that your student can meet with their instructor as needed.
How Can Students Enroll?
Enrolling is easy and can be done at any time throughout the year! First, create an account. Once your account is created, sign in and visit the learning catalog. Filter your search to find elementary courses and select the course you would like your child to take. Then click the “Enroll Now” button located on the course preview page. Choose up to six courses to add to your Backpack and submit your request! Once your request is approved, you will receive a welcome email from an instructor to schedule your welcome call!