Why I would recommend K12 and Virtual School: the good: less distractions, less drama, less anxiety in the morning, evening, and just generally during the day. the bad, you still have to do the work, you still have to teach and learn, and get an education, it is the 'job' of our children and it doesn't change by changing locations, and this is a school at home program, not a fly by the seat of your pants party, that being said, you have a lot of options for gifted and talented learning that you would be excluded from in a typical Brick and Mortar school, they guard them programs with an iron fist, you also have a blossoming Individualized Education Program, you are your only limitation when it comes to small group education, minimal distractions, preferred seating, and one on one education that is based on mastery in stead of dumbing down courses, teaching to the middle or lowest common denominator, or worse, teaching to the test. there are fail safes to keep the child progressing, there are accountability models, and you will be expected to contribute, work hard, and it is not for every family. It is a lifestyle, not just send them off in the morning and hope all goes well, you can make it spectacular or you can fight it tooth and nail and wonder what in the world you got yourself into. we are gone on explorations around the globe 24 weeks out of the year, without penalty, I can not imagine my children becoming life long learners in any other circumstance. It is an amazing opportunity for children to learn to love learning, and become self directed learners. it does take awhile to teach them to be inquirers, the schools have conditioned them to be spoon fed without questions, and that sucks all the creativity right out of them.
When I feel intimidation, it is just the fear of the unknown. you didn’t know what kind of wife you would be, just dived in, didn’t know what kind of mom you would be, just dived right in, same with educating your children, if you were able to successfully get them to learn to feed themselves with knife and fork, use a toilet instead of a diaper, ride a two wheeler, tie their shoes, put on a seat belt, wear a coat in 32'F weather, you are the perfect type of mom to home-school. WHY? because you give a care about them. that you will mess it up, is HIGHLY unlikely, why? because there is a script built into the lesson plans, there is a schedule built into the OLS, there is progress reports that you will see daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and your students will take assessments daily, weekly, and three times a year and every spring to let you know that your doing a bang up job! just worry about how your going to spend all that free time that you would be looking for shoes when the bus is coming in the morning, and how your budget is going to react to NO SCHOOL LUNCHES and you cooking at home, and better yet, eating today’s science experiment for desert tonight. it doesn’t take a PHD to teach, it doesn’t take a MASTERS to teach, it doesn’t take a BS to teach, it takes someone that wants their kids to want to be inquiring minds and not mushrooms sitting in the back of the class and molding.
Gym / PE, we take bike hikes every week, we ride to different parts of our community, sometimes we ride to the piano teachers house, sometimes we ride to the store to get groceries. PE is what you make of it, it could be a day at the park, it could be a day at the beach, it could be a day at the amusement park, it could be a day at the health center, it could be a number of things, just teach your children to be active. we have even had Wii days of PE.
What I love is that it is a complete turnkey system in a box, if you MIGHT need it, it is in there, if you could use it, it is in there, and if you must have it, it is IN THERE. the script for teaching the class is in there, the grading each assignment is in there, the workbooks and reading books are in there, the science experiments are in there for the most part. we had some that we had to go get supplies last year, things like plant fertilizer and jelly jars from the recycling box.
The first year was a mix of deschooling and inquiry schooling. Getting the children to stop expecting me to stand at the front of the classroom and spoon feed them nuggets of knowledge, & evolving into a more lifelong learning model of them asking a question, and following it down the garden path to find out who, what, where, when, and why. the second year, was a mix since I added another child from B&M to the equation and he was confused why he didn't see his brother doing as much work as him, because he was still getting deschooled and his brother was quietly working independently and it would just be such a confusing thing for him.
We discovered that the first 9 weeks was a lot of review, things he already knew. COOL. at some point I would have to start teaching SOMETHING right? well the second quarter came and went, and we were still plodding along nicely, stressing reading and keeping up with everything else to various degrees. he was gifted in science, he could breeze through it like no bodies business, wow, I had a gifted child right? well, not exactly, if we spent the day doing the fun stuff, then we didn't keep up on the not so fun stuff like social studies and math, so we had to ration the science and balance our day with everything else. the best thing I learned was that everything is cyclic, that means that if you do not get it the first time, do not fear, it will come back around again, that spelling words will be there next year and the year after, that vocabulary will be there, the next year and the year after, that fractions will come around every year until they finally get it and understand what a fraction is. so that means that no matter what, I will have an opportunity to reteach and they will finally get it eventually.
The best thing that I discovered is that I had more flexibility to change the approach, to change the technique, to change the direction of a lesson so that my child could benefit from more than one presentation method. say a video game would help, yippee, use it. say a trip to the museum would help, wow, go for it, say you would rather give an oral test, YES YOU CAN. it doesn't have to be all or nothing, just keep plodding along. now say your are keeping track of the clock, what if you didn't make 3% this week in EVERY SINGLE SUBJECT, YIKES, what will happen, you will catch up next week, you have the entire quarter to have everything balance out so find what works for you. if you make 3% in one subject, you can change topics or you can push ahead and do 6%, just keep it balanced 25% max per quarter, and then bring the next subject up to that level, until you have ALL of them at 25% before moving ahead in a 'fun' subject. all the teacher tools have literally a script in there so that you can not mess it up, once you get comfortable, you can deviate and shoot more from the hip and teach off the fly.
Here is my take after 24 months of this 'experiment', figure out what is the worst possible thing that could ever happen? is it that you children will not make as much progress as they were in B&M? that they will stop learning all together, or perhaps forget everything that they ever learned and work for Taco Bell? now that you can see the worst case scenario, think about this. In an IEP meeting for a child that is challenged, they set a goal, what would you like to see by the end of the year? would you like to see your child reading on level? would you like to see your child able to complete an entire assignment without you doing 90% of it? would you like to not have homework consume your evenings? now break that goal down by 1/4, what would you like to have accomplished by the end of the first quarter, the second quarter, and so on. find measurable improvements based on what you find in your family to be worthwhile. for us, we really wanted our child to be able to READ, that was the first year goal. to ENJOY reading was an expectation, and to ENJOY READING on LEVEL was the end of the year Plan. if nothing else, if he was able to do that, we had succeeded.