Lillian Connolly of Kettering, a seventh grader at Ohio Connections Academy online school, works on her computer at home, as her mother Shelley provides input. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

What one local family learned about online schooling

Lillian Connolly, a seventh-grader who lives in Kettering, will start her third year at Ohio Connections Academy online school this week. Lillian said she had a little trouble with bullying and fitting in socially in elementary school. Her mother Shelley said a flexible online school schedule also fit better with Lillian’s training and travel for figure skating competitions.

“You have to get used to not having a teacher right there with you, walking you through everything,” Lillian said of online schooling. “You have to get used to having to learn things more yourself.”

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About 3,800 students in the Dayton area attended purely online schools in 2016-17, with many more getting some type of online curriculum in traditional public schools.

Lillian said she likes the ability to do lessons at any time of the day, and to move more at her own pace than she could in a classroom of 25. Her mother said the flexibility also allowed Lillian to be at home helping when Shelley was struggling with an autoimmune disease.

Lillian often starts school around 7 a.m., works for a few hours, then takes a break to skate and have lunch before finishing up in the afternoon, Shelley Connelly said.

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“I was very scared about the social aspect of things and how well she would be doing — whether she would be learning and retaining the knowledge. But she is,” Shelley said. “It depends on the student. This would not be a good platform for a student who isn’t self-motivated, or a parent who can’t be home.”

Shelley said there is online communication with teachers, as well as the ability to call, plus a once-a-month scheduled phone call that is “kind of like a parent-teacher conference every month.”

Lillian says e-students have to be self-motivated, but she’s glad she made the switch.

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“It can be a lot harder sometimes because you realize you have all this stuff that you can do at different times,” she said. “Sometimes you can tend to procrastinate and not do it till later.”

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