MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) -The James family from Montgomery has been taking full advantage of the flexibility and individualized education they say virtual learning provides.
The five children began take classes virtually through K12 in 2019.
K12 offers both public and private online schooling options for students.
Christiane James is a student at Alabama Virtual Academy and is enrolled in its career readiness program. The other four children are students through Alabama Destinations Career Academy.
“We signed them up for the program just so they can have a little bit of flexibility and take part in the travels that we wanted to do,” said the father, Carlton James. “But more importantly, we wanted them to have a more one-on-one experience with teachers.”
James said K12 has allowed their family to travel to 22 states over the past year.
“Things that we normally would have to wait for our two-week vacation to do, now we can do all year long, (and) enjoy the outdoors,” James said.
The James parents said they like how online learning with K12 has let them oversee each of their children's individual education needs.
“I have one child with a learning disability and they have created a curriculum program specifically to be able to address that and he has done very well with the new program,” James said.
The family said they like how the K12 program allows for personal, individualized, one-on-one learning with the instructors.
“Your child is one-on-one with the teacher,” James said. “They can see the teacher just as if they were in the classroom. They can raise their hand and speak through the audio to the teacher.”
“Online learning is actually easier for me because you can ask teachers questions and they’ll make you your own session just for you and nobody else,” said K12 11th-grader Christiane James.
The switch to K12 from brick and mortar schools has given the James family the flexibility to travel the world and still keep their children on track.
"One of my favorite trips that we made was up to New York because it was my first time being to New York and I was doing school at the same time," James said.
"When we travel, we travel and learn about stuff," James said. "We stop by parks and we learn about the history."
K12-powered schools serves students in all 50 states and more than 100 countries. K12 has already enrolled 150,000 students nationwide for the 2020-2021 school year – a 23 percent increase compared to the 2019-2020 school year.
The Alabama Virtual Academy based out of Eufala has increased their total enrollment to 4,000 students in grades K-12 across the state. This is an increase of 1,000 students from the previous school year. The program opened during the 2015-2016 school year with 60 students in grades K-2.
The James family said what they also like about K12 is that the children are still able to make in-person connections with their online classmates.
“If we needed to go to a sporting game or go to a pep rally or something that the school is having, we are able to drive down to a brick and mortar location so they can still interact with some of the local students,” James said. “The K12 program schedules field trips and meet and greets so we can go out once a quarter and meet the other students that are in the online program right here in Montgomery or the Prattville area.”
James is a retired Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, and he said he and his wife do not have any educational background, but they are still able to help their children navigate online learning. They said anyone can do it, and now is the best time to try.
“You don’t have to have a lot of skills to do this,” James said. “Don’t be afraid because the curriculum that they provide is stellar.”
James said their family plans to stick with K12 until all of their children have graduated high school.