I have been tossing around the idea of allowing my 15 yo dd to attend cyberschool for a few years now. First off, the schools in our area are much less than desirable. Horrible scores on everything, lots of drugs, gangs, etc.... They are opening a new STEM school, an my dd will be attending that. It is supposed to be a great school once they work all the kinks out, and it is much smaller than the current high school. However, my daughter hates science, and that's what this is based on. She basically is only attending this to get out of the awful regular H.S. My dd is a truly fantastic, kind hearted, well behaved, play by the rules kind of teen, and I hope she stays that way. However, in H.S., this can be detrimental socially, and that seems to be what is happening to her. She is 100% against any kind of smoking, drinking, and sex (thank God!). I could not be happier about this, but she is slowly becoming socially isolated, because it seems everyone has fallen headfirst into all of these activities. She is not into sports, so that cannot be her saving grace. Last year, I was starting to see her become more and more unhappy and less confident. Even over the summer, she's had some comments made to her by a friend about being "too good all of the time". I just don't see why she should be in a situation where her confidence is taking a nosedive just because she's not fitting in with the average (unfortunately) teen behavior. It doesn't seem like you can be friends with someone who does these things if you don't these days.
However, my concerns are that first off, she is an only child. She is very family oriented, and actually quite a homebody, so I don't think she would mind being home during the day. BUT, I don't want her to become completely isolated socially. We are in a tiny town that doesn't offer many opportunities for homeschooled or cyberschooled kids. Yet, she is at an age where she can soon work almost anywhere, so I am figuring that can be a big part of her social network. Has anyone else started this in H.S.? How about with an only child? Any experiences would be great!
I have four kids, who have mostly gone the opposite direction in high school ... moving into school from unschooling, rather than the other way around. So on the surface, my situation is very different from yours.
On the other hand, we too live in a tiny town with almost no other homeschoolers, and I have kids who are well-behaved fairly straight-laced teens, whose only high school choice (the local K-12 public school) is quite focused on things that aren't their natural bent. For instance, my kids are very academically-minded, and very into music (instrumental and choral, classical and world music as well as music production). The school is very focused on outdoor education and social justice, with no music program and almost no advanced academic offerings. Dd14 and ds16 will be in the "advanced" math class which covers 10th, 11th and 12th grades and includes only one other college-bound kid besides the two of them.
Having had my introverted home-body kids at home part- or full-time for periods during high school, I will say that the potential for social isolation is very high. Even with scheduled activities for an hour or several hours three or four days a week, the sense of connection to a larger world was difficult to nurture. Their ability to be content in the moment at home created longer-term issues, because without a built-in set of social demands, they easily got sucked into being quite isolated, and then feeling lonely, aimless and disconnected from meaningful experiences in the larger world. We coped with this effect by creating opportunities for lots of travel, and for part-time work. My eldest's last year of unschooling was as a 10th grader. She spent two months backpacking in SE Asia with friends, worked part-time at a local café during the rest of the year, spent two days twice a month in the big city pursuing more intensive violin studies, spent three weeks in two different large cities as part of a string quartet program, and was heavily involved in a choir, which did ten days of touring. These things went a long way to counteract the isolating effects of not attending school, but they took a lot of effort and creativity, and they might not have been possible if she'd been tied to a cyberschool structure.
Based on what you've written so far, I would probably encourage you to give the STEM school a whirl. My kids have managed to glean what they can from a school focused on areas that don't align terribly well with their interests, and it's been fine because of the small size of the school and the presence of passion amongst the teaching staff, regardless of the direction of that passion. If you do choose to move towards homeschooling, I would look towards not merely replicating classroom work at home, but building a life for her that includes lots of connections to the wider world and really capitalizes on her interests. At age 7 or 8, being a homeschooler content with minimal social connections is a plus, but at age 15, I think it can be a detriment because it can lead to isolation at a time when teens need to be finding themselves in the context of a larger world.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
I am definitely going to have her try the STEM school first. The earliest we would switch would be halfway through the year after winter break. I'm just not seeing her social world grow at all through school or school related activities at this point anyway. She does gymnastics for 1 hour a week in another town and volunteers for the young kids' programs at our local library. She is also looking forward to being able to work once she turns 16. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this is your year to thrive, but so far she has just begun to ignore the kids that are talking about partying and dating constantly, and she doesn't seem to be able to find the ones that aren't. She's also pretty quiet when she doesn't know anyone, so she almost never approaches someone else first. Ugh!
I homeschool/unschool my only DS. He is at the highschool level. We supplement with art and swimclub. Oh what I wouldn't give for a decent STEM school. Right now we aren't doing much 'school' but he cyber's for some classes and enjoys that method.
I say go ahead and give cyber a try. Many college and universities are going to cyber for classes and its a great skill to learn. My kiddo has many online friends, i know its not the same as inperson but he's grown up with online classes. At a newly minted 13, he is also waiting to 'work' and is looking at early enrollment for university.
What I would investigate is the accrediation of the cyber school and how that translates into your childs university plans.
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Seeking zen in 2014. Working on journaling and finding peace this year. Spending my free time taking J to swimteam