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K12 vs. Healing Roots: Which Online School Is Right For Your Child?


More parents than ever are choosing online schools for their children. Between pandemic-related concerns and the often poorly organized shifts to remote or hybrid learning at public schools, many parents are looking for a different approach to education. Even before the pandemic, some families were fed up with the one-size-fits-all approach to learning at traditional schools and the lack of meaningful environmental and foreign language education.

Both K12 and Healing Roots Online School have expanded to help families give their children a better, more consistent education. Below, we compare the two schools to help you decide which one is a better fit for your child.

Approach to Education

K12 is an enormous online school program that takes a mostly traditional approach to education, aside from being online. Course material is structured in much the same way as at your local public school, and the learning targets are very similar. There is minimal education about the outdoors or agriculture unless a family goes out of their way to purchase extra learning materials. Learning generally takes place in the student’s home using either a laptop or offline materials.
While there may not be substantial opportunities for outdoor learning, K12 middle school students have access to a wider variety of online elective courses than they would find elsewhere. The schedule is very flexible and allows students to learn on their own time.
By contrast, HROS is a new school designed to bridge specific gaps many educators see in traditional schools, including the lack of substantial outdoor and agriculture education. Course material is taught through inquiry-based teaching practices, design-thinking measures, and local-to-global contexts. The outdoors and local communities serve as an extension of the classroom. Students participate in numerous service projects and are encouraged to have gardens, learn about the local plants in their areas, visit museums, go hiking, and learn how to care for a goat. Mindfulness is integrated throughout the school day.
At HROS, the school day is mostly flexible to allow families to prioritize outside activities such as horseback riding lessons or swimming practice. Synchronized learning sessions are scheduled based on the families’ availability. Morning meetings are a beloved part of the HROS experience and highly encouraged, but the school can create alternatives if needed. Fridays are free for field trips such as visiting museums, hiking, or gardening time.

Live/Synchronized Learning and Interaction Opportunities

K12 has some live, teacher-led classes with plenty of time for students to learn independently and occasionally work together. Students can join virtual clubs, competitions, esports, interactive workshops, and social hangouts. In some locations, K12 students can even join in-person clubs, depending on current public health guidelines.
HROS combines plenty of synchronized (live, teacher-led) classes scheduled based on families’ needs with asynchronized (flexible) learning and projects beyond the computer. Students can interact during morning meetings, additional synchronized learning time, group study hall, and student-led clubs with teacher support. The average HROS student enjoys a bit more social interaction than the average K12 student.


Learning Personalization

At K12, students take academic assessments early in the school year. Teachers then provide an Individualized Learning Plan that maps out a path to keep students on track academically. Students can choose from a variety of elective courses at the middle school level. Each student can learn at their own pace, but the courses are generally not personalized beyond that.
HROS students also receive an Individualized Learning Plan based on academic assessments early in the school year, which may be done using either traditional or non-traditional assessment methods. Courses are personalized based on students’ interests, learning styles, and the assessment methods that work best for them. For example, if a student is obsessed with outer space, the teacher will introduce new concepts using space-related problems and projects. If traditional assessments don’t work for a student, HROS will find other options. Teachers are trained in special education.

Outdoor, Environmental, and Agriculture Education

Outdoor and agriculture education are not significant components of the K12 elementary or middle school curriculum, even as electives.
HROS uses the Heifer program to teach students about agriculture and the global context. Students learn about the lifecycle of animals such as goats and help donate an animal to a family in need. Outdoor education is a significant part of the curriculum. Students learn how to identify the trees and plants in their surrounding environment, and they are highly encouraged to keep a garden and go hiking when possible. Love of nature and environmental stewardship are core values at HROS.

Art, Music, Career, and World Language Education

K12 students may choose elective courses in art, music education, career exploration topics, and/or world languages. Courses are taught in a typical online school format. Multiple foreign language options are available, but they are generally taught as a separate course and not through immersion.
HROS’s music and world language programs are new and dependent on enrollment numbers. If enough students enroll, the school will offer biweekly private lessons in the instrument of the student’s choice and a band program. The art program often connects with the science program to give students integrated STEAM learning opportunities. For foreign language immersion, the school will either offer multiple 45-minute sessions each week where core subjects are taught in the student’s chosen world language, or may simply offer conversational practice in one language.

Teachers, Accreditation, and History

K12 is relatively well established and accredited with state-certified teachers. However, K12 does not guarantee a student-to-teacher ratio, so there could be potentially large numbers of students per teacher.
HROS is new and in the process of becoming accredited. However, there are never more than eight students in class at the same time.


K12 online public school is tuition-free. However, K12 private school course options and some elective or supplemental education opportunities require tuition.
HROS is a tuition-based school. Parents can expect to pay a $4,978 tuition fee for the entire school year.

The Best Online School For Your Child

K12 and Healing Roots Online School each have their own advantages. If you are looking for a relatively traditional, fully accredited education program in an online format or don’t have a budget for tuition, K12 could be the best option for your family. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more personalized approach to education that emphasizes the outdoors, social impact, and foreign language immersion and you’re willing to try a newer school, HROS may be the better choice.
Want to learn more about these online school options? We encourage you to reach out to K12 or Healing Roots Online School. We wish you and your child the best in your academic journey!

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