I decided to take a break from plums and preserving to finally open our school boxes that were delivered last week. I figured since school starts in less than three weeks I should take the first step in getting my act together.
As a family we have made the choice to do online schooling. Online school is a new idea to most people. Some ask “What’s that?” and I simply state it is homeschooling but our school gives me a curriculum to follow. The response is usually “Oh….interesting” Which usually means they still have no idea what I am talking about but aren’t interested enough to ask for details. I have run into many people who are genuinely curious so I elaborate for them.
So, for those curious…read on to learn about why we made this choice and what the basics look like. If you really aren’t curious this would be the time you say “Ohh……interesting” and read a different posting…The Carpenter and I have always been big public school advocates and we still are to a certain extent. I went to school to become a teacher and have my degree. I taught in the public schools for four years and only left because we wanted to raise our children at home. We did the number crunching and if we buckled down we could do it on one income. It has been a huge blessing, even through the struggles. I have missed teaching but I would not have given up these years to go back.
I am NOT of the belief that ALL parents should home school or do online school. I think each parent has to make that decision for their child. When parents evaluate the options, make the decision and fully support their child in that choice it will be wonderful. I have friends have picked each type of education for their kids.
Clarification: When I talk about the “brick and mortar” school I am referring the public school system that meets in a public school building. A “brick and mortar” school has teachers in classrooms with 20-30 students physically in the same building Monday – Friday. I am making this distinction because my children right now ARE in the public school system, they are public school students, they are simply going through a home based program. More on that in a moment…
My son started his schooling in the “brick and mortar” school for kindergarten. The Carpenter and I thought that was the way we were going to keep it. Aidan was an early reader. When he went into the kindergarten class he already was reading simple words and he could already count to 100. The first day I put him in class I started having warning flags. The goals for the year were below where he was at entry! I was VERY concerned that he would lose his drive for learning by being forced to learn what he already knows.
I volunteered time in the classroom and it still took two months to get a conference with the teacher so by November I was very frustrated. I shared my concerns with the teacher and even with the principal to no avail. They would not adapt for him in the classroom and even though I was willing to gather and bring extras I was not allowed. So, I kept volunteering in the classroom once and week and observed. The Carpenter and I started looking at options and found online school.
We started doing online school for his first grade year and he is now in his fourth year. Our daughter is in her third year.
Since I LOVE my lists (just ask my Mother) Here’s a list of why we picked online public instead of “brick and mortar” public or homeschooling.
1) Mastery Based:
My kids can go the K12 curriculum at their own pace. My little girl was reading at a second grade level upon entry to Kindergarten. She was able to be started in first grade Language Arts instead of having to go through what she already knew. She sped through Kinder Math and though she is in second grade, she more than half way through 3rd grade Math and this year she begins with 3rd grade Language Arts.
When one of them struggles in a subject I can slow it down and go through it at the pace needed for them.
I love the idea that I could pick my curriculum if I was home schooling BUT it is a bit overwhelming. I like that I get curriculum connected to a set of standards and I don’t have to worry about missing big chunks of topics.
Money- Curriculum can be pricey and we have been on a very limiting budget. Online public school (K12/WAVA) sends me curriculum and basic supplies (such as base ten blocks for math, tempera paint for Art)
This is our pile of books and supplies from WAVA for the year.
I have discovered that I am an externally motivated person. I need that accountability of needing to finish certain things by a certain date. There is flexibility with K12 but you also need to be moving forward and be in weekly contact with your WAVA teacher.
When My oldest gets stuck on a writing assignment, he is in tears and I feel like screaming in frustration, I have someone to call or email and say HELP! (He has been in tears over a writing assignment more than once). In our home I am the teacher and it is nice to have another teacher to brainstorm solutions with. The Carpenter does wonders with wood but he does not have the patience or longing to teach Math or Language Arts.
The kids have online classes that also give them interaction with other teachers. This is great because they don’t always want to listen to me.
This reason came up with my son. While in school he was experiencing some health problems. It wasn’t until we pulled him out of the “brick and mortar” school that we realized they were related to the social “pressures” related to that environment and bully issues. His health issues disappeared within a few weeks.
6) Our Beliefs vs. Societies
We have strong Biblical values and beliefs that are not honored in today’s society and it does not look like they will align anytime soon. I could get into this but I do not feel like a blog post is the right place for that. At some point my kids will in a place of being surrounded by those beliefs and have to make their own path. But, until then I want them to have the chance to build strength in character without that strong, daily opposing force.
We take things year to year when it comes to deciding if this is still a good fit for us. I ask them each year before registration if this is something they want to continue. If they stay in the online school program through high school graduation they receive a public school diploma.