pros/cons of virtual K-12 - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 07-27-2012, 04:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I never really considered this b/c of the perceived lack of freedom in choosing my own curriculum, inability to work at my kids' own pace/around their interests and the time requirement set up by the state. I stress "perceived" b/c I really don't know what it entails or how demanding the requirements may actually be.   The other day though I saw the curriculum my friend got for her son who is doing K-12 and though it wasn't my first choice it wasn't bad. They gave her computer and lot of other things like math manipulatives, science lab tools, cds, etc....etc...it will be a bit of a financial burden for our family to HS though DH and I are fully committed and I am willing to shop used curriculum sales and utilize the library as much as I can. Still, I don't think I would be able to get the amount of resources she was given for FREE! this may not matter at all. Just wondering what some others who know more and/or have had experience w/ the program think of it in light of these points. TIA!!

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#2 of 17 Old 07-27-2012, 05:21 AM
 
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Subbing to read others' comments.

 

I have no experience with K-12 or the other options, but my very-nearly-13yo son knows that doing something like that, probably Connections Academy here, is an option for him.

 

He's not *there* right now, but I think he may be in a year or so....he's started listening in when his more 'school-at-home-ish' homeschooling friends talk about what they are doing and what they are planning towards.

 

I totally geek out over school/office supplies. I could just swoon every time I walk into an office supply or educational supply store. But that's me. The kids? so far no interest in all those shiny, spankin-new materials. 

 

But maybe someday....winky.gif


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#3 of 17 Old 07-27-2012, 08:48 AM
 
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Are you looking for unschooling perspectives?

 

We unschool, and though we are in Canada where there's no such thing as K-12, the province I live in has a decade and a half of experience with "Distributed Learning Schools" which are similar. They provide resources in exchange for accountability. There are lots of different programs (run by public school districts or by independent [similar to your charter] schools). They vary in terms of how much accountability is required, what type of resources are offered, the form the accountability takes and so on.

 

As an unschooling parent who has been part of three different programs, and has close friends who have had multiple children enrolled with three others, I have to say that there's always a tension between the philosophy of unschooling and the accountability required of the unschoolers. The crux for most of us is how dishonest we feel in bridging the disconnect. And that depends very much on the person or people at the other end. If the liaison teacher totally "gets" my kids, and "gets" my philosophy, and supports it, I feel fine about it. If, on the other hand, I find I'm doing a delicate dance, wording my reports and comments in specific ways to make them fit better into that person's perception of what we should be doing (but aren't, at least not exactly...), then it doesn't feel right to me, and I begin to get frustrated by the constraints of the program.

 

In other words, if the supervisor says things like "Let's look at how you're covering the 3rd grade social studies curriculum...." that sort of mentality, the assumption that it is necessary to cover specific topics in a specific curriculum because my child happens to be 9, would almost inevitably at some point begin to drive me (and my kids) crazy. If on the other hand, the supervisor says "It looks like your child is getting a rich and varied education in social sciences. How can we work together to create a paper trail that reflects that?" then I feel at home with that program.

 

We've ended up feeling quite comfortable in two of the three DL programs we've been part of. Most of my children happen to be the sort who enjoy many of the school-like resources we've had access to. We've felt a philosophical connection to our liaison teachers in both those programs. So it's worked for us. But I know other families in the same programs who have struggled ... with the same set of rules, but with different children and different liaison teachers. 

 

So I think it really depends on your child, and on how rigidly the program is administered.

 

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#4 of 17 Old 07-27-2012, 10:05 AM
 
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My sister did K12 with her kids and they all loved it. Hopefully next year my state is looking to provide connections Academy for free. We are looking into paying for it for our 5th grader as he seems like he needs interaction with kids his age (not counting younger siblings), and Connections has "clubs" the kids can join. I'm also going to ask hubby if we can swing sending him to a Montessori school, but I kinda doubt it!

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#5 of 17 Old 08-07-2012, 10:01 PM
 
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We did K12 for first grade. DD hated it. Its too dry, and its very demanding. There is very little flexibility in curriculum - you can't really choose to skip something and come back to it later. We were supposed to spend four hours a day on the lessons, and it definitely took four solid hours, sometimes more, to get through the day's lessons. So with breaks, and lack of interest, we easily spent 8 hours doing homeschool or trying to do homeschool every day, and trying to catch up on weekends. DD finally said she'd rather go to public school, so we enrolled her.

 

On the positive side, they give you so much stuff! Everything you need. Unpacking the boxes was a blast. There was a ton of materials, so much to sort through, all free. It was nice in some ways to not have to plan a curriculum and also to feel comfortable knowing that I was teaching her the "right" things which made it easier to transition back to public school, academically, so that she was not at an academic disadvantage.

 

But it wasn't fun. It was like pulling teeth every day, for both of us. I even resorted to candy rewards and a token system to motivate her. I was desperate.

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#6 of 17 Old 08-08-2012, 11:57 AM
 
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I think if you do it independently (and therefore it's not free and you don't get all the free extras) you can totally make it work but it's still really dry. 

 

I used it last year for ds's language arts and even though we did most things orally we still felt like we were drowning in worksheets!  IMO, it's exactly like being in public school but at home.  Now, the good things about it:  it follows the Core Knowledge Sequence which is something we do try to follow in many of our subjects.  Also since ds struggles in keeping up with language arts it did help keep us on track.

 

That being said, ds hated it so much and I feel like this entire coming year will be spent repairing the damage that k12 LA did to ds's learning.  He now cringes at the thought of writing something or doing any worksheet whatsoever. 

 

I think if I knew for sure my kids were going back to public school I would possibly use k12 for the year before they went back so they could assimilate a bit easier but otherwise its not something I would use again.
 


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#7 of 17 Old 08-08-2012, 10:34 PM
 
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I just signed up my two students for k12's International Academy, for a whole slew of pros that other choices couldn't match.

 

First off, we live internationally most of the school year, and really needed the time flexibility and the choice of whether to sync in with classes. Second, I have at least one gifted student, and we experienced problems in a B&M environment that were just classic gifted-kid-flailing-in-the-wrong-class symptoms. So, private k12 will enable me and her teacher to better assess where she is and where she should be in terms of programming. Third, we really need the ability to pack it up and take it with us, and with the amount of content that's online, we'll have that portability.

 

At the same time, if we decide to go back to B&M if this doesn't work out, we'll have transcripts and records that will easily be recognized by international schools. If I chose to homeschool on my own, I would have another kind of time getting the kids accepted into a school in our international environment.

 

I've never homeschooled before, and I have a rising third grader and sixth grader. They're both great readers and have an easy time with math, so if we can balance the "dry" aspects with plenty of hands-on work and interaction with other kids, I think we'll have a recipe for success.

 

I am sure I will be encountering some cons as we go. I was a little surprised that the private international academy has no PE requirement for elementary or middle school. Should not be a problem for us, as we'll be living close to the beach and plan to use our bikes and continue yoga and TKD classes, but not even a reporting requirement. I was bummed that Arabic was not an available foreign language for us, so we will have to add on our own, outside regular class. And, our elective limits meant choosing art over music. I am OK with that, but now will have to research and find ways to make sure the kids are exposed to enough music to meet my personal standard. We aren't musicians or music people, but I want my kids to know the basics.

 

I am also a little scared about trying to fit all our school supplies and materials in our luggage when we head back to the other side of the world. Shipping is really not an option, so we may be sacrificing other things for books and materials.

 

Still, I just went over curricula with both students this week, and both are pretty excited about the coming school year. Ds is also excited about the possibility of joining an online club or two.

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#8 of 17 Old 08-10-2012, 06:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Shelsi View Post

 I feel like this entire coming year will be spent repairing the damage that k12 LA did to ds's learning
 

 

I know exactly how you feel :(. DD has become so resistant to reading and writing as a result of K12 that I've decided this next year, I will focus on her interests and nothing else.

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#9 of 17 Old 08-17-2012, 08:41 PM
 
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So, what grade levels were your students in, those of you with the LA troubles with K12?

 

We got our boxes unpacked, and have just today started going through materials to get a feel for what some lessons will be like. I have a third grader and a sixth grader. Admittedly, I am a grammar geek. My ds was a bit of a late bloomer with his understanding of grammar and writing, but his recent reading explosion has brought him forward leaps and bounds. Dd, on the other hand, is a language natural. So I am hoping that my own enthusiasm, along with the cross-training of foreign language learning, really gets them both clicking with LA this year. They're both pretty psyched about math, but it does kind of floor me how far back we seem to be starting with start-of-the-year reviews. Yikes. I'm hoping lesson plans do go up in advance of the start date, because both kids want to burn through these basic reviews and jump into the new learning. Dd is all over the cursive work.

 

I have discovered a sort of major con for us: the sheer volume and mass of the materials. I am flying internationally at the end of September and we have over 100 pounds of just K12 materials to fit into our luggage. Not counting fiction and nonfiction for fun, things I'd like for "PE class," additional arts and crafts supplies and, well, our personal belongings. Not looking forward to the challenge of packing. Shipping ahead was not an option, as I didn't want to wait for October to start school. Ah, well, could certainly be worse.

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#10 of 17 Old 08-23-2012, 07:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by 1jooj View Post

So, what grade levels were your students in, those of you with the LA troubles with K12?

 

We got our boxes unpacked, and have just today started going through materials to get a feel for what some lessons will be like. I have a third grader and a sixth grader. Admittedly, I am a grammar geek. My ds was a bit of a late bloomer with his understanding of grammar and writing, but his recent reading explosion has brought him forward leaps and bounds. Dd, on the other hand, is a language natural. So I am hoping that my own enthusiasm, along with the cross-training of foreign language learning, really gets them both clicking with LA this year. They're both pretty psyched about math, but it does kind of floor me how far back we seem to be starting with start-of-the-year reviews. Yikes. I'm hoping lesson plans do go up in advance of the start date, because both kids want to burn through these basic reviews and jump into the new learning. Dd is all over the cursive work.

 

I have discovered a sort of major con for us: the sheer volume and mass of the materials. I am flying internationally at the end of September and we have over 100 pounds of just K12 materials to fit into our luggage. Not counting fiction and nonfiction for fun, things I'd like for "PE class," additional arts and crafts supplies and, well, our personal belongings. Not looking forward to the challenge of packing. Shipping ahead was not an option, as I didn't want to wait for October to start school. Ah, well, could certainly be worse.

 

 

 

If you have a printer you can leave the student pages behind, everyone of them will be available to print right from the lesson on the OLS.

 

 

That said, I like the middle grades of K12, like 6-8, lower is ok but not my fav. We just tried a K12 VA and OMG, its not even the first day of school for another week and were dropping out to go back to K12 Independent after reading the student manual and talking with the teachers. The VA is insane between a min of 4 live eluminates a week (which my kids and I HATE), Study Island (if you don't do 100% and pass it they will FAIL your kid for the year, yeah, we don't do SI either PERIOD. Kids hate it and they don't learn from it) then they have some yearly project to work on plus science fare is required and on and on. The VA has piled so much garbage on top of the K12 stuff that its not worth it. I'd rather pay the $66mo for the 3 courses we like and ditch the VA which were doing.


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#11 of 17 Old 08-24-2012, 05:40 PM
 
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We did k12 for 3rd and 6th grade last year, and I think we're about to also unplug from the virtual charter. My daughter will be in 7th, which with our virtual charter school is treated like high school, meaning they are sent no textbooks (though everything is online) and they have daily online classes for an hour. Like the person above, we hate, hate, hate the live sessions. Half the time someone's equipment or internet isn't working which makes the teacher stop and wait, and the pace is so slllllooooow. I do not like having to do standardized testing, either.

 

K12 was great for us last year when we had had it with b&m school and needed a quick change. I love the curriculum, though.

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#12 of 17 Old 08-28-2012, 06:07 PM
 
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I love some part and HATE others.  I HATE the math more than I can say.  It is unorganized and doesn't build on concepts.  I could go on and on.  We really enjoy literature, science and history.  Grammar is boring for my 4th grader, but fine.  Spelling is better this year for 2nd grade, also vocabulary. Music is terrible, I just check it off for the most part, we do little of it (don't tell, ha).

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#13 of 17 Old 08-29-2012, 11:04 PM
 
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Music is terrible, I just check it off for the most part, we do little of it (don't tell, ha).

HA it was terrible and I totally just marked the lessons off I wont tell if you don't!

We did AZVA k12  for second and third grade having all the materials sent free was a big appeal especially at the time as out income was quite low.. There were areas I liked literature was pretty decent but really for us it kinda ended their. I HATED all  the regulations. The study island was jsut dumb the required meeting and classes was over the top and made it so we couldn't do anything.. IF my child skipped or ended up one assignment behind cause say an illiness or such we go Kmailed to death threats of her failing out the year.. I hated how they treated the parents the tone went from drippy sweet to rudely passive aggressive.. I absolutly couldn't stand how much time my daughter had to just sit in front of the computer.. 

 While yes it has some good points and overall it was a somewhat decent transation I'm sooooooo much happier and dd is learning far more once we dropped K12.. We too had to kinda take a detox period. I pulled her out November of her third grade and we didn't start up again formally till January.

 

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#14 of 17 Old 08-30-2012, 06:06 AM
 
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I had a friend who briefly did Connections, and said it was horribly boring and took longer than a public school day to get through everything they required.  There was no flexibility.  Friends who do K-12 were really unhappy with the quality of the experience last year-- budget cuts led to technical problems and also use of some awful disorganized curricula that was apparently chosen for it's price.  

 

Before I enrolled, I'd look carefully at whatever sample curricula I could access and find out how flexible they are willing to be.  I think that the degree of flexibility varies from state to state.

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#15 of 17 Old 08-30-2012, 10:45 AM
 
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I have friends who are doing Connections this year.  The mom is giving it 30 days before she totally quits.  The kids are not happy, mom isn't happy.  The amount of 'busy' work is insane.  If she was to just homeschool the kids they could work at their own pace, connections takes a minimum of 6 hrs a day. (she has kids in grades 1,5,7,9)  FWIW this family has homeschooled for a number of years, choosing Connections was something the kids thought would be a 'good idea'.

 

My thought would be to talk to anyone and everyone you can about Connections/k12/VA.  there are message boards out there.


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#16 of 17 Old 08-30-2012, 09:51 PM
 
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Whew, glad to know I'm not the only one with issues with K12's LA.

 

We did K12 for DS's kindergarten last year, it went fairly well.  This year signed back up for 1st grade and LA stinks!

 

I've found that since it really follows public school there is the disjointed and jumping around that I would dislike from a b&m school.  But we're still using K12 and coping.  Here's what we're doing.  I block schedule.  So we do all of LA in one day, all Phonics in one day, History and Science in one day, Math all in one day and Social Studies/Art/Music another day.  I'll go through the lessons organize them how I'd like.  If we just did one lesson after another there's too much repetition for him and it's too much bouncing around of activities and subjects.  I look at what the assessments want and make sure we cover that and then do what we want.  I don't follow lessons as written and we skip whole things I know he's already proficient with.  If it's a subject he doesn't need practice with we frequently just take the assessment and move on.  We mow through lessons quickly this way and then can get to things he's interested in.  I give him a lot of free time to explore.  We both hate busy work and refuse to do it.  I don't see the merit in it.

 

Last year I was uptight about doing every exercise and worksheet, etc. but quickly worked through that.  My son doesn't do well with all that busy work and frequently I set the guides and computers aside, pull out library books and a white board and off we go!  I teach better that way and he definitely learns better that way.

 

So, basically we pick and choose.  We're still trying to adapt K12 to suit our needs this year and I'm not sure we'll be using it next year, we'll see.


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#17 of 17 Old 08-31-2012, 04:33 AM
 
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I can already see that we are going to have some issues with not having learned some of the prerequisite/fundamental items in previous schools, and will definitely be putting in make-up efforts at least for the first few weeks. My 6th grader needs what feels like a complete introduction, not a simple review, of parts of speech. LA will start off, at least, a challenge for him. My 3rd grader's LA work is so far on the appropriate-to-easy side for her, and the math is outrageously basic for third grade. We're skipping material and assessing through a lot, just so I don't lose her from boredom.

 

6th grade math seems to jump straight into algebra concepts, which is OK, but feels paced wrong, so we have had to take that by the horns, too. Ds is consistently been spending an hour and a half daily on math. And I am having to be more hands-on with him than I would, I think, had he been in the K12 curriculum before. I can leave him to Lit and History with little intervention, which is nice. Dd is happy to do 10-20 minutes of handwriting practice each day, which is also nice. When I think back to handwriting class and then see how much she seems to be enjoying herself, it's all good.

 

Both kids seem pleased to jump into their French lessons daily. The online program, with its avatars and earning points to spend on avatar stuff, seems ridiculous to me but apparently works on my kids. shrug.gif

 

I do wonder how much frustration is added into the experience through charter/state VA requirements. As a private-school parent, I don't have any requirements for CC participation, and that is a load off. My kids like to participate, but I'm blown away by the time lost to tech issues and other kids. It's like bringing in all the issues of a traditional classroom again. This one's mic won't work, that one keeps interrupting, etc. 

 

We have also started to work in blocks, but I am not a planner, so it is not a scheduled thing yet. But yesterday, dd ended up doing 3 classes' worth of math and two LAs. The day before she did two spellings. I'm just using momentum to my advantage at this point. I think some lessons I will block and others we will slog through as we must.

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