By Natasha Brown

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This school year will look and feel very different for many people in our region. Students and parents will have to get used to a new way of learning.

Long before the pandemic forced many schools into virtual learning programs, Claudine Flemming, of Northeast Philadelphia, had already chosen that route for her teenage son.

“As a parent, I saw him able to explore other things,” she said.

Flemming opted for a cyberlearning experience with Commonwealth Charter Academy throughout her son’s high school years.

“We have nearly 20 years of experience in doing online learning. We’ve learned what works, what doesn’t work,” said Tom Eller, with Commonwealth Charter Academy.

Flemming saw the benefits of virtual learning in one of Pennsylvania’s largest cyber charter schools.

“I find it easier because he gets up, he doesn’t have to worry about the commute to school, he doesn’t have to worry about dressing up or anything. He just gets up, gets his breakfast, gets dressed for the day and sits down, gets his work done,” she said.

“Just being prepared, having an understanding of your technology and testing it out and having a learning space dedicated to, a place where you can do school with all the supplies you need is gonna be really beneficial and aid in that transition,” said Natasha Shane, with Commonwealth Charter Academy.

For those parents embarking on a new normal this school year, cyber school experts say preparation, routine and parental oversight will be key.

“If they’re at home learning virtually it’s going to be somewhat up to you as the parent to make sure that they’re online, they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing, they’re engaged with their teacher,” Shane said.

“Routine is important but what I find is more important than just routine is the parent keeping a check that  — even if they’re teenagers and you think they can handle it on their own — keeping a check and making them culpable, because spending the time and getting their work done because it’s still school even though they’re at home,” Flemming said.