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Online courses are providing new opportunities for the rising number of children in the U.S. who attend home school. In less than 10 years, the number of home-schooled students in the U.S. has more than tripled to 1.7 million, as parents seek more personalized curricula for their children and grow increasingly concerned about the safety of public schools. However, many parents feel unqualified to teach certain subjects, especially to older students, and the Internet is helping to fill the educational gap. Some home-schooled students use online courses only as a supplement to their regular studies, while others enroll in an online school such as the Christa McAuliffe Academy, the Laurel Spring School, or Child U. Online schools communicate with parents through chat rooms and e-mail, and help students socialize through pen-pal programs and extracurricular activities. With critics citing concerns that home-schooled students are not properly socialized, online high schools are responding by organizing field trips and even holding proms. (Washington Post, 16 July 2000)

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