K12 Online Education: Everything You Need to Know

Online learning is mostly associated with higher education, it is gaining its place among lower level education levels as well.

Although traditional schooling, where children have to go to a dedicated brick and mortar school, is still the primary form of education, online programs are starting to gain traction.

Currently, students in the hundreds of thousands are taking online K12 courses, and this number is only growing by the day.

Furthermore, in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, as more students are being homeschooled, we are also seeing a growth in the other parts of the online education industry.

That brings us to the question – should you give in to the hype and consider K12 online education for your children? To answer that, we have put together a detailed read on everything you need to know about K12 online education, its benefits, how much it costs, and much more.

So without further ado, let’s get started.


What is K12 Online Education?

K12 is an Education Management Organization (EMO) that provides online schooling and curricula. The K12 course materials are targeted at students starting from Kindergarten, all the way up to grade 12 (that’s why it is called K12 – it provides education through the first 12 grades of school).

K12 online education basically serves as an alternative to traditional “brick and mortar” schooling. Instead of going to a school, students can be at home, and access their virtual school from a computer, laptop, or smartphone – anything that has an internet connection.

K12 Online Education Benefits

The biggest benefit of K12 online education is that it provides unparalleled flexibility and freedom to its students.

With access to learning materials 24/7, and that too at the comfort of student’s own homes, the students are free to create their own schedules and learn at their own pace. Also, if and when they face problems, there is dedicated teaching support available to help answer all their queries.

Other than this, K12 online education can also help reduce the overall family expense. Since there is no need to commute to the school physically, the parents can save on the traveling costs. Not to mention that online courses fees tend to be significantly cheaper than their offline counterparts.

Who is K12 Online Education For?

K12 online education can prove extremely beneficial for students who require a more flexible approach to schooling.

The “one-size-fits-all” approach to education that is followed in traditional schools doesn’t work for every type of student. And this disparity prevents many students from getting a proper education and attaining their full potential.

With that being said, here is a list of different types of students and families that can benefit from K12 online education:

  1. Students Who Prefer to Learn at Their Own Pace
  2. Students Who Want or Need to Travel a Lot
  3. Students Looking for Modern Education
  4. Students Suffering from Medical Disabilities


1.   Students Who Prefer to Learn at Their Own Pace

Traditional schools follow a steady pace when it comes to teaching. And they are not to be blamed for that. After all, they must find the right balance for the full class of very different individuals who often are too early in their education and therefore are not yet self motivated. On average 23.1 students fill the typical American primary school classroom. In lower secondary schools, the average class size is 24.3 students.

For gifted students, the classes can feel very slow. The lack of a challenge can cause them to lose interest over time. Similarly, for students who prefer to take their time when learning new concepts, some classes can feel too fast, which can cause them to lose interest, and even make them feel that they aren’t good enough.

The solution to this problem is to provide these students with the option to learn at their own pace – and K12 online education makes that possible.

Since it is partially or completely online, students can pause, rewind, and fast-forward each lesson. If they feel like it, they can take multiple classes on a single day. At the same time, others can space out the classes and go through the curriculum at a more relaxed pace.

This extra level of freedom and control keeps the students interested and doesn’t overwhelm them into quitting school.

Beware, as even this freedom can have its cons. Students not well versed in anti-distraction techniques or ones with issues to schedule a program and self motivate, can be left behind.


2.   Students Who Want or Need to Travel a Lot

K12 online education can be a great option for students who need to or want to travel a lot and can’t attend a dedicated brick and mortar school.

For some students, their parents might be in a profession that needs them to travel to the country constantly.

Whereas, in some cases, the students themselves might be pursuing a career that requires them to move around a lot. This holds for child actors, child performers, childhood sports prodigies, chess grandmasters, etc.

These students always need to move around attending tournaments, concerts, and the likes. The option to continue their academics online provides them unparalleled freedom instead of forcing them to choose between their passions and schools.


3.   Students Looking for Modern Education

Online schooling prepares students for this new age and time. This is something that the outdated schooling methods of traditional institutions still don’t manage quite well.

With K12 online education, children are encouraged to build their own routines and schedules, and become more disciplined and independent.

Secondly, they have access to the whole internet for their research, which allows them to form their own opinions on a topic.

Finally, the students also start to become more familiar with modern technologies with things like operating a computer and browsing the web. This can help build an aptitude for computers, which we all know is really important.


4.   Students Suffering from Medical Disabilities

Some students can’t physically attend a traditional school because of their medical conditions. For them, online K12 education offers an excellent way to pursue academics.

Now, this demographic of students don’t necessarily need to include only the students who have crippling medical conditions.

There might be other students who might be able to attend school physically, but are bullied or made fun of because of some, otherwise benign, medical condition. Even in this situation, online schooling is an excellent option.


Different Education Options Under K12

Here is a look at the different kinds of education options you can get under K12.

K-12 Online Public Schools

Here you have almost the same experience as with traditional public school but with the advantages of online learning.

Similar to traditional public schools, students can attend classes tuition-free. However, they are free to set their own schedules and routine. Furthermore, they can dedicate as much or as little time they want on each subject.

Also, depending on the students’ necessities, K12 powers several types of tuition-free online public schools. This includes:

  • Virtual Academies (For All K-12 Grades): Virtual Academies are basically online public schools for the average students. Students get to enjoy all the classes from the comfort of their homes. However, sometime, it might be required to visit the school for in-person learning.
  • Destinations Career Academics (For Grades 6 – 12): Destinations Career Academics offers a blend of traditional learning with career-focused training. Students gain hands-on, real-world experience, which helps them explore more career options while they are earning their diploma.
  • Insight Schools (For Grades 6 – 12): Insight Schools are concerned with helping students overcome obstacles so that they don’t fall behind. It helps the students build their confidence and provide academic support like credit recovery and block scheduling.

Now, there are tons of online public schools powered by the K12 curriculum spread across the US. Check out this list of a K12 powered online public school near you.

K12 Online Private Schools

These are fully-accredited private schools that offer students the flexibility to choose between fully supported part-time or full-time enrollment options.

With a full-time enrollment, students get access to dedicated teacher support and the opportunity to earn a diploma when the course is over. Whereas, with a part-time enrollment, students can supplement their current learning curriculum, with subjects they are interested in but not covered by their current academic institution.

At the time of writing, there are three online private schools that caters to the different educational needs of the students:

Note: K12 powered schools are required to follow strict rules stated by the state in terms of testing, school accountability, and even attendance policies.

As such, it does impose the same level of responsibility and discipline as you would expect from a traditional brick and mortar school.

Furthermore, after graduating from an online school, the students are also entitled to a high school diploma, so you don’t need to worry about the certification.

K12 Powered Homeschooling

Homeschooling can be as challenging as it is rewarding. Sometimes, the struggles of studying independently can be too much of a pressure. This is where K12 can come to the rescue.

K12 is one of the largest providers of homeschooling curriculums featuring a catalog of over 250 award-winning courses. Each of these courses comes with useful utilities like a planning and progress tool, assessment & answer keys, and even teaching guides.

As such, you can rest assured that you will get access to some of the best study materials and curriculum to promise a fun and education-filled academic year for your kids.

If and when you face any issues with a particular topic or subject, you can choose to get help and support from professional teachers who are experts on the subject.

How Does K12 Online Education Work?

First, if you want a K12 powered online education for your children, you will need to choose one of the three different schooling formats discussed above. To refresh your memory, these are:

  • Virtual Academies (For All K-12 Grades)
  • Destinations Career Academics (For Grades 6 – 12)
  • Insight Schools (For Grades 6 – 12)

If you are homeschooling your students, you will need to take full control of your child’s education.

Once you have purchased the course curriculum and study material from K12, you will need to create a study plan, make a new routine, and make sure your children follow that routine.

However, things become a little different when you enroll your children for an online public school or an online private school.

Here is a look at a typical school day for students enrolled in these programs:

  • First, the student will follow the online lessons and other interactive activities available in the OLS – Online School.
  • Next, they will need to follow up on some offline studying activities using the books and study material provided by K12.
  • Then it comes time for “Class Connects.” These are dedicated Virtual Sessions between the student and a state-certified teacher, where the child can ask for instruction or support on any subject or topic. This is also the time when teachers mark attendance for the students.
  • This is followed by interaction with the teachers and other classmates through the online platform via video conferencing. It can also be done via phone as well.
  • Finally, if and when necessary, the student can engage in any necessary online or in-person activity required by the curriculum.


How Much Time Students Need to Spend Online?

We all know that prolonged screen time isn’t good for health, especially during the earlier years. This is why many parents are concerned with online learning as they fear the time children will need to spend online.

However, in reality, the total number of hours necessary to spend online to complete the academic curriculum is very low.

For a single school day, students in grades K – 2 need to spend around 40% of their time online. Whereas, for the students in grades 3 – 5, this increases to 50 to 60%.

However, as the child enters middle school or high school, almost all school work is going to be online. This is why it is recommended to invest in a good monitor and blue-light filtering glasses to ensure proper eye protection.

What is The Role of The Parent?

The Parent, or any responsible adult who is the student’s guardian, is tasked with the role of a Learning Coach.

The overall duty boils down to working with the student’s teachers and helping them record attendance, monitoring whether the student is properly learning the different concepts, and also seeing that all the assessments are being completed.

Now, it might seem that this is a lot of work and is going to take up a lot of time, and that’s somewhat true, especially with younger students.

The learning coach is expected to allocate around 4 to 6 hours per day for students in Grades K to 5.

After this, the students should be encouraged to become more disciplined and independent. From grades 6 to 12, the learning coach needs to devote 1 to 3 hours a day. At this age, their role basically is that of an overseer.


How Will the Students Socialize?

Students get to spend time with other classmates during the “Class Connects.” As you might have guessed, most of the interactions happen through an online platform, either via video conference or chat.

However, the schools will often arrange outings and field trips when the students can meet up and socialize there.

K12 powered schools also have online national clubs that help students with similar passions and interests connected with one another.

How Much Does K12 Online Education Cost?

There are different types of K12 education options, and depending on which method you pick, there are going to be different costs.

K12 Online Public Schools

The most affordable option would be to pick a tuition-free online public school. However, depending on which school you pick, it might charge you for different facilities other than tuition. At the end of the day, the cost will vary school from school.

K12 Private Schools

The same goes for the K12 powered online private schools. The three schools we discussed all have their own fee structure.

K12 Individual Courses

However, students and families interested in purchasing independent study courses from K12 can look at their official pricing page.

As you can see, there is an option to pay upfront the entire course fee for 12 months. At a 10% discounted rate of $260, you will get full access to the online course and their platform for a year.

Or, you can break it down into monthly installments and pay $24/month.

Other than this, a pay-as-you-go monthly subscription plan is newly added. You will need to pay a rolling monthly subscription of $30, to get continuous access to the K12 courses. A great feature of this option is that it can be canceled at any time.


K12 online education offers a lot of freedom and flexibility compared to traditional schooling. It is an excellent alternative for students who don’t benefit from the “one-size-fits-all” approach. From our experience at Red Comet, there are 4 types of such students:

  • Students Who Prefer to Learn at Their Own Pace
  • Students Who Want or Need to Travel a Lot
  • Students Looking for Modern Education
  • Students Suffering from Medical Disabilities

Students can learn at their own pace, when they want, and from where they want. This type of flexibility and freedom enables the students to become more disciplined and independent. However, at the beginning it is important for the parent to step in and guide the new learner through his journey to let him understand the importance of self discipline, time management, efficiency and organization. At the beginning it is expected for the learning coach (parent) to spend 4 – 6 hours a day with the child to help build the routine and practice self-discipline.

However, you do need to consider that K12 simply sets the curriculum and provides the study material. The quality of education will depend on the online school where you enroll your child. As such, be careful to pick a good K12 online school to ensure the best possible education and academic growth.

Did you find this helpful? Then check out more from our K12 Series at RedComet.com today.

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