Monday, August 7, 2017

Homeschooling via On-line charter School

Our journey with homeschooling has been an interesting one.  In the VERY beginning I attempted to 'do my own thing' and quickly learned I'd burn out in days if I continued on THAT path.  We quickly moved to a 'packaged' curriculum - Calvert - that we had heard good things about from acquaintances who'd used it and loved it.

So, our first year, after a mere couple weeks of trying to 'wing it' utilizing Five in a Row (which I think is fabulous if it fits your personality) we purchased the Calvert Curriculum for Jacob - our first born - and so began our homeschooling adventure.

Midway through the year, we learned of an on-line charter school that offered the Calvert Curriculum for FREE if you enrolled in their 'school'.  I would still be the home 'teacher', but would receive our books and supplies free of charge - which was a blessing for a single income family - and have a support system to help guide us.

Plus -- accountability.

It wasn't a tough decision.

The next summer we enrolled.  It was a smooth transition since we were already using their offered curriculum.  All that changed was some interactions with their 'teachers', sending in some papers to be graded, and taking part in the public school standardized testing plus additional testing required throughout the year due to the fact it was a virtual school.

I discovered early on that my personality NEEDED accountability.  It would be all too easy at times to just say, "eh, I don't feel like doing school today. I have this or that project I'd like to do; the toy room needs organized; the kitchen needs deep cleaned; we need groceries; it's a pretty day for the park; etc; etc; etc!" that would pull my attention away from the important task of actually teaching and completing schoolwork.

So.... the on-line charter school had appeal.

Granted, I get frustrated by the multitude of standardized testing we have to accomplish; the hoops we have to jump through; the busywork we have to complete sometimes; but.... overall.... it's been a great match for our family.

Our children have learned that school is school -- it has to be done.  Granted, since they are at home we have more flexibility.  We can work ahead to take a day off for a family field trip;  for doctor's appointments.  Or... we can catch up when we take an impromptu day off because it's just too nice out to stay cooped up inside; an emergency arises; sickness hits.   All three of the older kids have been able to be volunteer librarians by doubling up on their assignments each day to get a 'mostly free day' off once a week.   The kids can sleep in to some degree; we have a more laid back morning schedule for tending to our mini mountain menagerie.  However, we can't just continually fall behind and work at a snails pace because we are on someone else's schedule.  I honestly believe my children's education would have suffered if I lacked the accountability and time frames the virtual schools provided.  Hence, their education benefited from the on-line charter schools.

To me, that's a good thing.  No, a great thing.

I know me.

I have a tendency to get lazy.  To not 'feel' like doing the teaching that homeschooling requires.  To get distracted by projects and chores around the house.  To get engulfed in a good book.  To allow the kids to get so engulfed and rationalize that such reading 'counts' as their school for that day.  :-)

I'm willing to admit my faults and acknowledge where I would have fallen short.

Since we are bound to the schools timing, I can't be so laid back.  I can't allow myself to get quite so sidetracked.

Hence, we get stuff done.

Through the years we've discovered how all the kids learn.  We've learned the aspects of the on-line schooling that work well for us and those that we can reassess to use a method that fits better for our family, yet still completing all the work required.

Another huge benefit I've found in using virtual schooling is the independence our children developed early on in their school years.  Navigating the computer; keeping track of assignments; working at their own pace; not requiring me or another 'teacher' to hold their hand to accomplish the lessons and work necessary to succeed.

I'm thrilled we discovered on-line schooling those 15 or so years ago.  It's been a blessing to our family.

All 6 of our children have gone through these programs.  One is entering his senior year of college with honors.  Two are entering their senior years of high school - again top of their class.  Another is starting 6th grade - Jr high as it were; the fifth one is going into 5th grade and the baby is in her 3rd grade year.

We've changed which on-line school we've used over the years, but through it all we've continued to stick with virtual programs.

Many dislike them, but they work well for us.

It does take dedication on the families part; the parents; the children; the whole unit.

It does require being flexible when technology falters.

It does mean being confined to someone else's schedule and agenda to a large degree - but.... in all reality ANY schooling has an element of that.  The only difference is to what degree and to whom.

It does demand following a set curriculum, but since we are home with our children we can add to that however we choose.

For us, it's been a win win scenario.

The kids get a solid curriculum that prepares them for college; I get to be with them, molding their character; they automatically receive an acknowledged transcript to aid them in college admission; I have accountability and support to keep us on the right track and give a boost in areas I'm not strong -- ie. math and some sciences.  The children progress through all the major subjects - and then some - in a logical sequence that ensures they have no gaps in their education.

So, as we prepare for yet another year of homeschooling - or as some may say 'schooling at home' - I'm glad we have this virtual option to catapult us through our school years.  Which are sadly coming to a close for a couple more kiddos.

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