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Exploring Elementary Education at VLACS

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Parent supporting elementary child with online learning

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.

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 serve over 13,000 students with middle school, high school, and adult education, making us one of the country’s largest statewide virtual schools.

What do you offer? 

Our elementary pilot launched in Spring 2020, offering Math, Language Arts, Technology, and Spanish courses to students in fourth and fifth grade. Then in the Summer 2020, we announced that we would be expanding our elementary program to students in kindergarten through grade 5. Today, we offer part-time Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Spanish, Technology, Art, and Physical Education courses to students in grades K-5!

How will my elementary student successfully learn online? 

Online learning at the elementary level engages your student with different learning styles.

At VLACS, we use a competency-based model that empowers students to determine when, where, and how they will learn. We define competencies as the big ideas that students are expected to master before moving on. 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, your student must first show mastery of a specific concept. Your student can practice for as long as they need and show mastery when they’re ready. After demonstrating 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. 

As your student works toward each competency, they will be asked to complete several lessons within their course. These lessons all have a built-in reader to guide them through their course material. Your student will be asked to complete different graded activities using multimedia and print materials. They will also have the opportunity to participate in weekly group sessions with their instructor and peers, where they will explore various topics and complete engaging activities!

Using our competency-based approach, your child can learn at a pace that meets their individual learning needs. They 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 also long-term benefits of virtual learning. As your child becomes acquainted with their online education, they begin to develop essential life skills early on. The technology, independence, discipline, and ways they communicate in a virtual setting contribute to strengthening their practical life skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication. These skills transfer well into adolescence and adulthood when they 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! You will be there every step of the way to cheer your child on.

Online learning at the elementary level will require some guidance and supervision. Initially, you may have to help your child navigate their way around their course. While your role is not to teach the course curriculum, you will want to guide your child throughout their academic journey. To ensure that your student has the support to succeed, you could help them develop a consistent schedule, create a proper workspace, and eliminate any distractions for an optimal work environment.

Who will be teaching elementary courses? 

Just as the parent’s role is essential, 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 foster 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 in our elementary program, 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, our 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 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 weekly calls to discuss your student’s progress.

Additionally, every instructor will offer appointment and office hours so that your student can meet one-on-one 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 classes to add to your Backpack and submit your request! Once your application is approved, you will receive a welcome email from an instructor to schedule your welcome call!

Ready to enroll your student? Visit the Learning Catalog and choose your course(s)! Have questions about our Elementary Program? Attend an open house!