would you consider using online school? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 03-11-2014, 08:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi everyone.  We are 1st year homeschoolers, my daughter is in 2nd grade.  There has been good and bad this year, and honestly I'm not sure whether homeschooling is something we will do forever, but she loves it and I've basically committed to doing it again next year.  

 

I just found out that I am pregnant, and my energy/motivation for school has taken a nose dive.  I'm really struggling with morning sickness and fatigue, and i'm feeling like I'm shortchanging her education.  I also have a 3 year old, and my pregnancy with her was physically miserable from beginning to end.  I'm trying to stay positive about this one being better, but I'm also trying to be realistic.  I may not feel better once the 1st trimester is over, and I have to plan for that.  I also know that when the baby comes I don't want to plan stuff and spend a lot of time supervising school.  I'm feeling overwhelmed and am really tempted to start using an online program, maybe Time4learning.

 

We currently are kind of eclectic, I just pull together lessons for her by the week.  We use Singapore Math and Moving Beyond the Page, both kind of loosely, skipping around a bit.  She reads a lot and we travel quite a bit.  To be honest, I'm not sure that what we are doing now is comprehensive enough, and although it sounds lame it's a lot of work for me.  I'm so tempted by the idea of something she could just sit down and do on her own.  I would consider this a temporary solution, for while I'm pregnant and when the baby is tiny.  I guess I just feel like homeschooling should mean a high level of involvement from me, and while I'm not up for that right now I feel like eventually I should get back to that, and if I can't/don't want to I should send her to school.

 

Sorry to ramble on and on...I guess what I'm looking for are other's experiences using online programs - positive or negative.  I'd also appreciate any insights for suggestions from others about my situation in general.  Thank you for reading!

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#2 of 17 Old 03-11-2014, 08:59 AM
 
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This is just my opinion, but at her age especially I would simply back off the academics and then slowly reintegrate it when you can.  Maybe you can find some more activities she can do on her own, or with just a little help from you, both online and off.  However, I personally wouldn't commit to an online curriculum/school at this age.  I would worry that it would take the enjoyment out of homechooling before too long.

 

Hopefully someone will come back with some experience with this.


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#3 of 17 Old 03-11-2014, 09:06 AM
 
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I wouldn't use an online school, as I think (right or wrong) that it would seriously compromise any flexibility you currently have. 

Instead, I'd focus on what you feel is most important, perhaps reading and math, and remain flexible in other areas. 


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#4 of 17 Old 03-11-2014, 10:22 AM
 
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You are talking about a program like time4learning.com, not an online charter (or other) type of formal school, right? I would try that website for a month and see how you like it. I've seen decent reviews online, but the demo activities aren't enough, IMO, to get a good picture.
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#5 of 17 Old 03-11-2014, 11:13 AM
 
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I too wouldn't worry over academics at her age. I hear Khan Academy is a great resource and it's free https://www.khanacademy.org/


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#6 of 17 Old 03-11-2014, 11:20 AM
 
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As much as I like Khan Academy, it's not all that engaging for this age.  My girls are 7 and 9, so I do have first hand experience with this, at least.  It's good to try, though, you never know.  It's fun in its own way.  Could use improvement for the under-10 set.


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#7 of 17 Old 03-11-2014, 11:41 AM
 
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My kids are seven and nine. Khan Academy is not their thing.
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#8 of 17 Old 03-11-2014, 11:57 AM
 
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Congratulations on the pregnancy!

 

In your situation I think I'd probably do two things. First, by all means, try out one or more on-line resources. Don't get yourself locked into an on-line school like K12 or CVA, since those tend to be very restrictive and time-consuming. Just feel free to try out some on-line curriculum. Dreambox, Time4Learning, whatever. If it doesn't engage her, try something else. If you don't find a good fit, no big deal, let it go. 

 

Secondly and more importantly, relax your expectations for school-subject learning and instead include her in the real-life learning of pregnancy, living daily life and preparation for childbirth. That's the efficient and natural way of involving yourself in her learning. Keep track of the baby's expected growth in length, weight and development. Talk about nutrition, about the hormone changes, where the fatigue comes from, what happens to your blood circulation, what supplements are helpful, the anatomy and physiology of the uterus and placenta, the role of prenatal appointments, what the tests are for, how ultrasound technology works, what fetuses and newborns hear, see, learn, etc. etc. Make meals together. Go for walks. Veg out. Read.

 

When my eldest three were 9, 7 and 5 we had a year where we did what I somewhat tongue-in-cheek called the New Baby Curriculum. It was just a year of natural learning revolving around the pregnancy and birth of their youngest sibling where I didn't worry about anything that looked like 'school.' It was incredibly rich, not just in terms of learning about the baby, but also in that it gave them a chance to gain independent skills and confidence and to stretch themselves creatively. While they didn't do much that was clearly academic, when we were ready to pick up the threads of academic learning again I was amazed at how much they had progressed in the absence of Active Parental Facilitation. If you've got a kid who is curious, engaged with the world around her and reading independently for pleasure, I expect you'd have to lock her in a dark closet for the next year to slow down her learning. 

 

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#9 of 17 Old 03-11-2014, 12:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post

My kids are seven and nine. Khan Academy is not their thing.

 

Yup. I see Khan Academy as having great potential for the younger set, but at this point the content and pedagogy are seriously lacking. I think it's best as a resource for motivated older kids working at a high school level. 

 

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#10 of 17 Old 03-11-2014, 12:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies.  Just to clarify, I'm talking about using an online curriculum, like time4learning, rather than an actual online school.  Sorry for being unclear, I'm still learning all the terminology!  I really don't want to restrict out flexibility.  I just want something she can do independently, so that on days when things are really hectic I can still feel like we actually did school.

 

I really wish I could just relax and be a bit more unschoolish, but I have tried that approach and it makes me anxious. I think unschooling is great and I originally wanted to do it that way, but a bit more structure seems to work better for us.  I know this is my own issue, but I can't seem to get past the fact that by law I'm supposed to be providing 4 1/2 hours of instruction each day.  We don't actually "do school" that long most days, and I can't help feeling like I'm cheating somehow to think of doing even less. I should add that I am satisfied with my daughter's progress, she's actually ahead in many areas.  

 

I really like the idea of learning about pregnancy and fetal development, she will love that.  Thanks for the suggestion and the kind words, moominmama!  

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#11 of 17 Old 03-11-2014, 12:48 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kcc153 View Post
 

 I know this is my own issue, but I can't seem to get past the fact that by law I'm supposed to be providing 4 1/2 hours of instruction each day.  

It s highly unlikely that your state has clearly defined what "4.5 hrs of instruction" needs to look like.  Neither do I imagine any state dictating that a homeschooling family follow the schooling year Sept-June.  Usually you have the entire calendar year, and you have 7 days a week, including vacations to do it.  180 days, that's typical.  That's half a year, and works out to closer to 2 hrs a day of "instruction" which is probably not defined.   I would double check the exact wording of your state regs, with help from a hsing organization if possible.

 

Don't sweat it.  I don't think anyone is suggesting full-on "unschooling", just as your pregnancy progresses, as those first few months of infanthood puts huge amounts of pressure on you and your family, to not be afraid to scale back the academics as needed.  Give yourself permission to not plan out what that *needs* to look like ahead of time and take it as it comes.  That way, if your rhythm falls back onto the very basics, you won't be feeling so anxious (even unschooling families have rhythms and some scheduled activities to be mindful of).  Then you can add the extras in slowly as you feel you are ready for.  


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#12 of 17 Old 03-11-2014, 09:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kcc153 View Post
 

by law I'm supposed to be providing 4 1/2 hours of instruction each day.  

 

My teens go to school, where by law they "receive 5 hours of instruction each day." You know what sorts of things count within that five hours? 

 

Waiting for teachers to photocopy stuff. Waiting for fellow students to finish writing, or to quiet down, or to sign out the digital projector from the computer lab. Walking to the fitness centre six blocks away and back again after PE. Listening to announcements. Attending all-school assemblies, meetings about disciplinary issues or participating in long discussions about internet policies. Watching the primary school kids perform their play. Waiting for tech support to phone back to unlock privileges on the colour printer. Doing yoga or going for a walk for the DPA (Daily Physical Activity) PE requirement. Baking lasagna or cinnamon buns, decorating gingerbread houses, washing dishes, helping with soup preparation for the hot lunch program. Washing more dishes. Sitting on the bus en route to field trips. Emptying the compost bins. Setting up chairs in the gym. Turning over the soil in the garden. Watering the tomato seedlings in the greenhouse. Waiting for the math teacher to explain something to another student so that they can check their solutions to the chapter review. Having free-ranging discussions about current events.

 

If stuff like that counts for my 15 and 17-year-olds, you can bet that similar stuff "counts" for my homeschooled 11-year-old. 

 

Don't hold yourself to a higher standard than schools are held to. Especially since any focused direct instruction your child gets is efficiently targeted exactly at her, at her attention, at her needs, at her interests. You sure can't say that about whatever small portion of the school day is devoted to direct instruction of a child in school.

 

Miranda

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#13 of 17 Old 03-13-2014, 02:07 AM
 
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We did the online charter school for the first half, and it was actually a lot more work, plus it didn't match our learning style at all.  But an online curriculum I think would be fine, as long as she's not sitting on the computer all day (I know that's not what you intend :)  If she can do it on her own, it might give you a nice little break to rest or care of the other kids. 

 

My dd is in first grade, and our "school day" definitely is not 4.5 hours of formal instruction (though the charter wanted 5 hours of formal instruction a day!) but is rather spread throughout the day in whatever way works for us.  In my state we can either count hours per year (I think 900) or just days of instruction (180), so I can just mark down each day we do anything and it will be no problem. 


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#14 of 17 Old 03-25-2014, 10:27 PM
 
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Time4Learning I think is a good choice while you are going through all of this.  no. definitely do not do an online charter because right now you will not have the time and energy to devote to it.  I personally used K12 once and enjoyed it but it was exactly like school at home, complete with certain deadlines that had to be met and since I work full time it was a mess.  Absolute mess.  


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#15 of 17 Old 03-31-2014, 04:11 PM
 
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allinonehomeschool.com has free lesson plans.


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#16 of 17 Old 04-01-2014, 07:03 AM
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My second grader does about an hour of academics a day.  However, if someone were to challenge me on the topic, I would also count all of her lego play, puzzles, dress-up, dance, biking, non-school writing, and her help in the kitchen as "school".  

 

Another option for you would be to bookmark a couple of the fun and educational sites.  Let her "play" on the computer to reinforce skills.  It wouldn't be a specific curriculum though.  One example that we like is http://www.toytheater.com/ for their math games. 

 

Amy


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#17 of 17 Old 04-02-2014, 12:17 PM
 
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I'm still in the research phase of "finding a good curriculum to use next year for 7th grade." I've unschooled in the past, but it didn't work well for my son in 2nd grade, and now that I'm (most likely) pulling him out of school again, I feel the need for something more structured than I've done with him in the past. Unschooling worked great for my daughter (who will gladly read for hours) but he's a different person with a different learning style. I'm also considering Time 4 Learning. It's inexpensive enough that I won't feel bad if I only end up using it for 1 or two subjects. There's no commitment, or contracts to break, or "I've spent all this money on a textbook for the whole grade and now we're not even using it"- if it doesn't work for him, we can simply cancel.

 

It looks like Khan Academy is even better priced (free) but they don't seem to have too much for the little ones. I'm not even sure if it will work well for my son for 7th grade- it looks like it's all high school level. It's GREAT to know this exists in case I have him home for high school, but right now I want to focus on his needs for the rest of middle school.

 

For $20 you can sign up for a month of T4L and see if your daughter likes it. It's designed for younger students to use fairly independently. See if your daughter can use it without your assistance (or with little enough assistance that you can handle it.) See if she finds it fun and engaging and if you feel like it's worth the money. If not, you cancel and you're only out $20. If it works for you, keep it as long as you find it useful.

 

I'm still not 100% sure it's going to work for my son. I have yet to find anything I like better, or as much for the price, but I'm not done researching yet.


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