I have kids currently in public school who are thinking about coming home for 4th and 2nd grade. I used K12 for one year and wasn't thrilled, but the nature of my not-thrilled wasn't related to having to log in each day or conference with the "teacher" or anything like that. I don't mind the structured aspects of the virtual charter school experience. My issues were more related to a lack of quality and rigor in the curriculum. The next year I used the classical method, and while much was learned that year, I think that with three kids homeschooling plus a 4Ker underfoot I will not want to be planning and giving all the lessons myself. I also think that having an "outside authority" and getting grades from somebody other than Mom is a good thing for my particular kids.
So, families who use a Connections Academy, are your kids learning a lot? Do you like the curriculum? How much of a problem is busywork? Are a lot of crafty assignments required? (If you imagine the Oak Meadow folks on one of a spectrum, and me and my kids on the faaaaaaar opposite end, you'll understand our preferences with regard to coloring and crafting for a grade.)
I am just beginning to research this option, and I don't know quite what to ask - so lay it on me!
my daughter used connections academy when we lived in SC for a about 4 months at the beginning of grade 2. i chose connections academy over K12 specifically because i had read the workload was too much with K12 (so the lack of "rigor" may be even more prevalent with connections imo). we have always homeschooled, so for us, it felt like too much busy work and we couldn't follow our own interests without feeling "behind". the experience wasn't bad though. it wasn't a good fit for us, so we just withdrew (it was really easy to enroll and leave though). the principal even called me to say they were sorry to lose such a good student. everyone was very nice & i felt the school ran rather smoothly and the logging process was very simple. the curriculum seemed thorough enough for that age imo (but i'm more on the gentle side, so you may find it lacking) -- we received a lot of books to read, experiments to do, etc. my daughter even had "live" classes where she could see the teacher & type with other students. our experience overall was good, even though we chose to leave. you could always try it & just leave if it isn't a good fit. sometimes it is hard to know what will work until you try. my daughter is now 11, so things could have changed since then. plus, i'm not sure if all of the connections academies are run the same.
i don't remember any extra stuff needing to be logged. i'm fairy certain the "live" classes met that stipulation. my daughter actually enjoyed the classes too, as did i.
i would definitely say it's worth trying. withdrawing from the virtual school was really painless for us. after we left, we went back to being 3rd option homeschoolers. if you do not enjoy the virtual school for some reason, i would recommend going the 3rd option route as well if you are open to homeschooling. a great website is carolinahomeschooler.com -- it is run by a seasoned homeschooler. her name is dianna and she is so kind. she helped me a great deal when my daughter was in kindergarten and i was just starting out.
oh, and on a random note, in SC - homeschoolers have access to discovery streaming for free (access to thousands of educational videos!). i miss that SOOOO much!!
I'm sorry I can't give you any opinions about Connections, which we don't use. I'd be very interested to hear about your experience with K12 and how it compared to a classical education at home, though. Would you mind sharing? I'm interested in the quality of education, and how much supervision it requires. Does it free up a lot of your time? We're classical here, but I will be working more (from home) in the future and I would value your input, especially because you also tried classical.
Smithie, what grade level(s) did you use K12?
I currently have two enrolled in K12 (private international), grades 3 and 6, and the flexibility and rigor are what will likely bring us back for next year. We have different term options that span the year, and when the kids were incoming, we met with advisors on their placements. My middle schooler had the option of advanced science as well as math, and my third grader blew through the year's math and is starting the next year's, which she will pick up again in fall where she leaves off in June.
The greatest issue I have had has been deciding how much work to have my students do before assessing them for the lesson/unit. At the start, I insisted they did everything; I've since come around to having a better idea when they are ready. I'm excited about this, because it means next year will be even more comfortable for us.
We do pay a good deal for the private option, but we live overseas and don't have the option to enroll in a public charter. Also, it seems many of the problems people have are to do with public charter school requirements. My students don't have an online class attendance requirement, or the need to be working certain hours certain days. We have total hours required, and we have work samples to send in, and progress and assessments. I can take them on field trips and give them class hour credit, we can work over weekends or in the evenings, and we schedule school breaks when we want to take them, which enabled us to take an awesome spring break trip this year. If a student needs greater challenge, that can be brought up with the teacher, and the child can be assessed out of the current class and accelerated as needed. We even have my third grader doing middle school foreign language instead of elementary.
I don't always love the amount of time spent online, especially for my MSer, and a lot of material means a lot of textbooks (which can make our luggage awfully heavy for overseas travel). We are also definitely always looking at a schedule and what needs to be achieved, so compared to our unschooler friends, we are a lot less flexible, but for us it has been a good in-between option. In our case, dh wanted the kids in school and I had to convince him that home would be a good option for us this year, as our school options are academically rather a joke, and middle school tuition here is as much as liberal arts college in the States.
I did look at Calvert and was considering it (very briefly), as they allow 12 months to complete a year, but they also cut off at grade 8, which would only set me up to be looking for another solution in another year or so. So for now, K12 is meeting our needs.
MittensKittens, I wanted to add that the supervision for my third grader is still quite a lot, while my MSer is nearly fully independent.
Emaye, thanks for telling me about the Calvert option! I have requested a brochure from them. I really do like the Calvert curriculum, and to get it for free is a tempting proposition... though I suspect that we're going to wind up not doing any of the virtual charter schools next year. Maybe in a few years when my kids are older. Reading up on the various options reminded us why we went independent in the the first place ;-)
MittensKittens, I used K12 for the kindergarten year only. You can imagine how much supervision was required ;-) For first grade, I selected my own curricula and used the classical model. The school day was somewhat shorter, more was learned for darn sure, but it required a leap of faith and a lot of self-confidence to make that shift. The following year, my son went to public school. Now that I'll have three at home, the lesson planning for independent homeschooling is definitely going to be more of a challenge - but I think we'll probably decide to go for it. The flexibility and the ability to choose the curricula for each subject seem to be very important to us.
Well now, that's something for me to consider. Thanks for the update!