Friday, May 31, 2013

K12 - Monster or Miracle? My Review of Virtual Public Schooling

Some of you may remember that I have a child with ADHD. She doesn't have your run of the mill pansy ADHD, she has *the* ADHD where you as a parent are made to feel you have a nuclear reactor in your house that is constantly leaking radioactive material or is threatening to leak and you are having to go into hazardous situations every minute of the day and praying that nothing too terribly bad happens. I lie not. Thankfully, medication has plugged a few holes and keeps everything running sorta smoothly.

Except her schoolwork.  I had great curricula picked out for her.  She was using History's Masterminds, Math U See, Easy Grammar, IEW, and Real Science 4 Kids.  It is all amazing curricula. Except she wouldn't do it. Getting her to complete her schoolwork with any accuracy or at all was a battle I was not winning.  I needed help.

Enter K-12 in the form of our state's virtual public school, Tennessee Virtual Academy.

The enrollment process is fairly easy.  You have to send in all the same information as you would a normal brick and mortar public school.  I had to get her physical updated and things like that. No big deal for us.

After enrollment, she was assigned most all her classes, except for English and Math, and we did the initial class, Introduction to Online Learning, together.  Well, I mostly did it as not a lot of it pertained to her. But, that was also fairly painless.  During that first week, I got several emails.  I have to say I ignored some, forgot about some, and then did not really understand the rest.

K-12 tells you that your child needs to complete an initial assessment so they can put your child in the proper Math and English. They tell you that your teacher will tell you what your log in information is.  I waited for several days before I finally emailed her teacher and asked for it.  She was also assigned subjects to complete and I had to start putting in her attendance but we had not yet received her books.  I just had her continue to do the homeschooling materials that we already had on hand.  Her books arrived about a week after enrollment.  Not too awful long considering the process, but still a bit frustrating.

The curriculum is really challenging, too challenging for my struggling learner!

My kid hated it.  She hated being accountable to actually get her work done.  She hated that she is getting actual grades. She hated having to work the entire school day on school work.  All I have to say to that is, "Welcome to reality, kid."

My kid loved it.  She loved the class connect sessions she has where she can interact with the teacher and other students. She loved the art program that I was too lazy to actually do at home. She loved that she can email her teacher with questions and get an answer via email or an impromptu live class connect session.

I hated it. I hated it for all the reasons I knew that I would.  It is public schooling at home with all the intrusion public school can be and typically is. It took my time, energy, and a lot of the freedom I enjoyed as a homeschool parent.  I was on their schedule where my daughter is concerned.  If they need a conference, they get a conference.  I did have some room to ask them to reschedule if something truly doesn't work for me. But they get their conference.

I loved it.  I loved that it is so scheduled.  I loved that I can get help from her teachers if I need help. Sometimes explaining things to her can be maddening. Her teacher was extraordinarily helpful in giving me real and practical ways to help her learn what she is being taught.  I can not say enough good things about her teacher. She was amazing.  I love that all the guesswork about curriculum had been removed.

In the end, this did not work for us. My child simply has too many learning issues for K-12 to have been successful.  She needed more time that she simply did not have and could not be given. So, we took her out of K-12 and got a private tutor (yay for bartering!) instead.  That has been magical for us!

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