BeanBean is doing K12 through a virtual academy this year. At this point, he's about half-way through the kindergarten curriculum (on average). If he continues at this pace (and the only course he's likely to slow down in is math... but since he's already taking first grade math, it's not a big deal) he'll have completed the entire kindergarten curriculum by Thanksgiving, some of it well before then. He'll finish the history program next week.
I don't see it as being "slow" at all-- it was made very clear to us that there is absolutely NO reason to do all of the work or to spend more time than a child needs to learn on any given lesson. If your child already mastered concept X, give them the assessment and move on. If you're not sure, give them the assessment and move on if they've mastered it, go back and work on the necessary lessons if they haven't.
They allot a certain amount of time for everything, but they emphasize strongly that it's not necessary for every child. How much time is required to learn a math lesson? Child A might need 60 minutes of instruction, Child B might need half an hour of instruction and half an hour of running in circles or standing on her head, and Child C might need no instruction at all because they already understand it. For children A and B, it's entirely reasonable to say that they spent an hour on math. It's probably not in Child C's best interest to say the same, but to allow her to move on to the next lesson or unit assessment.
Some kids will need/want more/longer breaks than others; that's to be expected, and it's perfectly reasonable. My son spends 6 hours a day on schoolwork, but it's certainly not because the school says we have to or because he "needs" it for some reason; it's entirely his choice, and quite frankly my limit that sets our lesson time for the day. The way that you decide to use K12 in your own home is your business. You know your child, you're the one who has to live with him. Does he need an hour of math instruction? Will he benefit from it in any way? Does he want to spend an hour working on a lesson (or the lesson he started yesterday)? Do you? If you find yourself constantly in a battle with your child over doing lessons, it's time, in my opinion, to reevaluate something. If your child is frustrated and feels that you're moving too quickly or too slowly, then change the pace; you're at home, you have that freedom.
It's all about providing a well rounded education to every child, no matter their pace or ability level. Yes, it's a very rigorous course of study and yes, it can be highly structured... but it can also be easily adapted to fit your lifestyle and your child's needs, even within the confines of a virtual academy in my (admittedly brief) experience.
My thoughts on kindergarten specificly: We don't have the kindergarten math program, so I don't know about that. The first grade math program contains a great deal of repetition and ideas are presented very, very slowly over the course of a week. My son has been taking unit assessments and has not hit the point yet where we have to go back and do a lesson; he does anywhere from two to six assessments at a time.
I think it'll happen later this week or next week, so when we slow down a bit I'll take a look at things. Right now for BeanBean, math time is primarily a chance to practice handwriting.
The language arts program is fun; both of my older children enjoy reading and discussing the stories presented. That said, we only read the stories once and discuss them, usually that same day but I have made a point to ask them a few questions about each story later in the week/the following week, just to make sure that they're actually "getting something" (especially if they don't ask questions of their own... but usually they do
). We don't do the warm-ups, aside from reading poems (which again, the children enjoy). Why in the world would I spend any time on part of a lesson called "Yellow is yellow?" Both kids know what yellow is, BeanBean can read the word.. so there's no point in doing that part of the lesson. We've skipped all of those. The vocabulary words I only stop to define if the kids ask; more often than not, they are able to define them by context. I have noticed a change in BeanBean's speaking vocabulary since I began reading these stories to him, so I figure the objective is being met, you know?
Phonics K has been entirely review thus far; we're still doing only assessments. This afternoon, BeanBean will finish the first semester; his sister is working her way through at a more leisurely pace whenever I have the chance.
It's very comprehensive; my only problem with it is that at this point, it has been exclusively phonetic instruction. I suppose that the language exposure comes from the language arts portion.. but I'm not entirely sure. I'm a fan of explicit phonics, but for some kids (i.e. whole word readers like BeanBean it seems to make some aspects of reading unecessarily complicated.
Science K is very simple, and lots of fun; We tend to do one unit at a time, though. The five senses, for example, was spread over several lessons but we did them all at once, in about 45 minutes and saved the experiments for later. He has yet to encounter a new concept in science, either, but he and his sister both enjoy hearing stories, and what kid doesn't like experiments?
The history program is probably very rigorous for the average kindergartener, but for my son it's just been silly. Geography has been a passion of his for some time now, and history as well. I did a lot of supplementing, added a great deal of depth, and he's still going to finish that program late this week/early next. I have to say, though, that the Eurocentric focus of the history, while expected, is difficult for me...
That was going to be a problem with any curriculum, but this way I have the opportunity to introduce other ideas to my son. Because he works so quickly through these lessons, I can take the "extra" time and discuss my perspective with him.
Art isn't so bad; the focusing on concepts which are readily accessible to most kindergarteners (i.e. "pictures are made of lines and shapes") doesn't seem, to me, to be a bad thing.
The kids are given paint, clay, and oil pastels to work with, and encouraged to do so-- I don't think that's a bad thing, either (just messy).
I don't have a major problem with the music program, either. Again, there's a great deal of repetition when it comes to musical concepts, but there's no reason that everyone has to do everything over and over. If your child understands high/low, he doesn't need to repeat every high/low lesson-- look at the objectives for mastery and if your child already meets them, mark them as correct and the lesson as complete. You're not supposed to do everything in any subject; they provide opportunities for children to learn in a variety of ways, but most children won't need to be presented with three different ways of learning the concept of rhythm before they finally get it.
Thus far, our experience has been fantastic. Everyone at the virtual school has been helpful and supportive, everyone from K12 has been likewise. My son couldn't be happier, he finally has the structure he's been craving. While I find myself occasionally exhausted by his incessant desire for schoolwork, I'm glad that I don't have to go it alone. I can't imagine a program that would be a better fit for my son from any school option that I could afford. For our family, this seems to be the ideal solution at this point.