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#1 of 23 Old 01-26-2012, 12:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have tried to find answers in the old homeschooling threads and via google but I'm slowly getting more and more overwelmed.

 

I'm in the Mat-Su Valley, with a 4 year old kid who's supposed to start school in the fall, we had originally planned on applying to Birchtree Charter School but are now very much leaning towards homeschooling.

 

I think I have a general idea of the two "systems" (go with some program like IDEA and get some kind of financial allotment for all kinds of schoo/learning related stuff, but then you have to fulfill some requirements, too...or go independent, get no money but have full control over what you do when etc. Is that basically correct?)

 

I was just wondering about how big the differences betwen the two options are. How much influence do other people/does the state have if you go with one of those programs? What exactly do you have to do if you sign up with one of them? Are there advantages of specfic programs? From reading the older threads, it seemed that most here are homeschooling with IDEA?

 

We could really use the money to help with school related expenses but one of the reasons to homeschool is so that you yourself can make the decisions about curriculum, timing, etc. and not have other people or the state dictate, right?

 

I would really appreciate it if someone could give me some pointers. I'd also be thankful for any links to helpful websites. I'm very willing to do my homework and read and research, but I'd love some help to point me in the right direction winky.gif

 

Thanks everyone orngbiggrin.gif

 

 

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#2 of 23 Old 01-26-2012, 10:50 AM
 
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I'm not sure I can be of any help at all. LOL

We have homeschooled over the years. Mostly we do go with a state program (RAVEN or Delta Correspondence) because I do enjoy getting help with the funds. However, this year and with previous years, we rarely use the "curriculum" we buy through the school. We have 5 unopened boxes of science kits, our Sonlight language arts/social studies box is virtually untouched..... cost? About $1100.  But I do use all our art / craft and lessons money! 

Most homeschool programs in Alaska pretty much do leave you alone and you only need to do Quarterly reports in order to continue to receive funding.  You also need to comply with state/federal testing.

 

 

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#3 of 23 Old 01-26-2012, 06:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your answer smile.gif

 

So do you like Raven/Delta in general? Do they MAKE you buy a curriculum through them, or could you also buy somewhere else and they'd reimburse you for it?

 

I talked to another Mom today and she recommended Mat-Su Central. Anyone have any experience with them?

 

Man, I was up until 2am last night, reading up and researching. It seems a lot right now but I'm sure I'll have found my footing in a few months or so orngbiggrin.gif

 

I'd still appreciate any other information/advice you all would care to share winky.gif

 

Thanks smile.gif

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#4 of 23 Old 01-26-2012, 08:41 PM
 
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I used to LOVE Raven when we lived in Fairbanks.  Their Anchorage office is so discombobulated that no one knows what's going on. I guess it would be ideal for anyone wanting to unschool but with public funds.  I deal with them

for now but intend on switching next year.

 

I do not have to purchase a curriculum from them They will be more them happy to make suggestions and they will order stuff you have selected so you are not out of pocket. They also will reimburse you for anything related to your "Individual Learning Plan" which is nearly anything you can think of.

 

I'm pasteing a link to a great homeschool group here in Anchorage and the Valley.

http://www.facebook.com/groups/138751842827632/ 

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#5 of 23 Old 01-28-2012, 05:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much.....I'll check that group out as soon as I have a minute.

 

I'm still reading up on everyone's suggestion. Our church also has a homeschool co-op that meets once a week, so I'll sign DS up for a few classes through them as well.

 

As I said, good thing there's still enough time till August.....still so much information to go through in order to be able to make decisions orngbiggrin.gif

 

Thanks again for your help winky.gif

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#6 of 23 Old 01-28-2012, 06:44 PM
 
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A couple fo teh ladies I've met in the Facebook homeschooling groups are going through Mat-Su Central this year & having a lot of issues with it. Stuff like the teacher/advisor demanding way more than standard quarterly updates & generally treating people like they are idiots.

This year my son started at Birchtree but we are now homeschooling independently. Next year I plan to go through either IDEA or Twindly Bridge. Twindly is technically a charter school as well, but you can choose to homeschool through them & not attend any classes instead.

 

Here are a couple more Facebook resources:

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/198940293504514/

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/IDEAMatSuPAC/

 

This one is a Christian homeschool co-op that meets fridays near Big Lake.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/163684573683466/

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#7 of 23 Old 01-29-2012, 02:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rik-E View Post

 

This one is a Christian homeschool co-op that meets fridays near Big Lake.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/163684573683466/


That's the co-op I meant, too orngbiggrin.gif

 

Thanks for the other links. A friend just added me to a number of facbook groups tonight, including the above ones, so I have a lot to check out.

 

I did read some of the FB comments about the advisor at MatSu Central. Before, I had been leaning towards them but now I think maybe I should check out Twindly Bridge instead. redface.gif

 

I think I'd prefer to stay within the district, in case he wants to do sports or band later.....he wouldn't be able to do that if signed up with Galena-based IDEA. Also, IDEA'S allotment is lower by several hundred $....that's a lot of school supplies......

 

Decisions, decisions.....it's not easy. But at least I'm starting to get a better idea about the whole thing. Thanks everyone. winky.gif

 

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#8 of 23 Old 01-29-2012, 10:52 AM
 
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Are you sure IDEA does not cover sports or band? We use RAVEN which is based out of the Kotzebue area and we are able to take all sorts of lessons and extra-curricular activities.  Also you can switch schools at any time so if your not satisfied with one, try on another.

The out of town homeschool programs also are able to coordinate with ASD if your child needs special "in school" resources like Speech, extra reading help, special education, etc. 

 

There is also another one based out of Chugach, Misty, a lady that is on the ALL facebook group I linked you to helps run/coordinate field trips for them. they look very well organized and do tons of great things! Might be something to look into.

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#9 of 23 Old 01-29-2012, 12:43 PM
 
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You can switch at any time to a different oversight program. So maybe IDEA would be good for now, but do in-district later? I assume you mean that your son may want to participate in extra curricular activities through the local schools. I have not looked into that yet, I may for LEGO robotics next year.

 

Side note - pretty sure that you may be my FB friend & I added you to all the groups! LOL 

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#10 of 23 Old 01-29-2012, 03:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rik-E View Post

 

Side note - pretty sure that you may be my FB friend & I added you to all the groups! LOL 


LOL.......now THAT is funny. (And yes, it's me...... I didn't know your screen name on here lol.gif)

 

Yes, I meant the sports/band activities done through the local schools. Obviously it's not something that's important right now, at his young age, but later that might be something to consider. I guess switching later would be a possibility, but I'm a person who really doesn't like change too much so for me it would be great if I could find a good fit now and stick with it redface.gif

 

There's still some time to do research, luckily winky.gif

 

This is where I am at:

 

It looks like at MatSu Central there's a huge difference between the advisors. I know a few people who are really happy with theirs (Janis?), but then the people who ended up with that Alexej guy seem really unhappy there, according to their comments in that facebook group.

 

People seem pretty happy with IDEA, but their allotment is A LOT lower than at the others (1700 vs. 2200), and you wouldn't be able to do sports/band at the local schools later unless you switch to someone else then.

 

People seem happy with Twindly Bridge, but I haven't heard from enough people yet to really believe that there are no negative points.

 

I heard too much negative comments about Raven, plus it's out of district, so I'm not considering them at the moment.

 

I would like to hear a bit more about Twindly Bridge.....and maybe meet with their advisor? Has anyone else ever done that? (I mean meeting with advisors from different schools BEFORE making a decision ?) Or would that be overkill since all the info can be found on the net?

 

So that's my sitution at the moment.....and now I guess I have to go and read a bit more on facebook orngbiggrin.gif

 

Thanks everyone smile.gif

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#11 of 23 Old 01-29-2012, 05:29 PM
 
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I'll go meet the Twindly principal with you!  I forget his name, but I have had him recommended highly by a couple people already. I am thinking homeschool through Twindly Charter might be our pick too, but also still researching.

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#12 of 23 Old 02-05-2012, 02:50 PM
 
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I had questions about this too! I am also considering homeschooling dd who will be eligible for kindergarten in the fall. I am 50/50 at this point. I am applying for charters and alternative programs and doing a trial run of kindergarten. I really like homeschooling more than I thought. I heard that the cost of going through a co op was almost as much as the allotment you get since you have to meet with the teacher. I have an idea of what I want to do with dd but I don't know if they would approve the materials and if you can just get things you pick or if you have to order stuff through them. I also wasn't sure how much you get and what is approved.I like that classes and stuff is funded. I heard you can sign them up in late May through the family partnership charter. 


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#13 of 23 Old 02-05-2012, 03:43 PM
 
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The co-op we are doing is all parent run, under the umbrella of a country wide organisation. It is all the parents who teach classes, except a few 'homeschool vendors' like karate. The cost is per class for supplies mainly. This semester with 2 school kids & one in the preschool/nursery group we paid $170, which included yearly dues for the local co-op. The only other cost is a membership to the national org which was around $30 I think? I honestly don't remember. To me a total of $200 for co-op out of allotments ranging from $1700 -2200 is not much.
 

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I had questions about this too! I am also considering homeschooling dd who will be eligible for kindergarten in the fall. I am 50/50 at this point. I am applying for charters and alternative programs and doing a trial run of kindergarten. I really like homeschooling more than I thought. I heard that the cost of going through a co op was almost as much as the allotment you get since you have to meet with the teacher. I have an idea of what I want to do with dd but I don't know if they would approve the materials and if you can just get things you pick or if you have to order stuff through them. I also wasn't sure how much you get and what is approved.I like that classes and stuff is funded. I heard you can sign them up in late May through the family partnership charter. 



 

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#14 of 23 Old 02-05-2012, 03:50 PM
 
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Ok thanks what are the differences between the different co-ops? 


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#15 of 23 Old 02-05-2012, 04:27 PM
 
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This is the only co-op in the Mat-Su area that I am aware of. There are some other partial school programs like Louise's Farm School which cost more. I am considering that one too for next year, if we go through an oversight program with allotments.
 

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Ok thanks what are the differences between the different co-ops? 



 

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#16 of 23 Old 02-06-2012, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Could I be that dmp is confusing "co op" with what Rik-e calls "oversight programs"?

The latter would be e.g IDEA, Twindly Bridge, MatSu Central, Raven, etc., the former would be that local, parent-run co-op at Faith Bible Fellowship in Big Lake.

 

So dmp, when you asked about the differences between co-ops, did you maybe mean the differences between IDEA and the others?

 

If yes, then my personal impression would be:

 

Mat-Su Central: seems to be really big, just built new building in Wasilla, but stricter rules & people are happy or unhappy depending on which advisory teacher they're with (Janis = great, Alexej or something like that = bad). Full allotment of 2200$.

 

Twindly Bridge = smaller than MatSu central, also in-district for Ma-Su, but only positive reviews from the few people I met who are with them.Full allotment of 2200$.

 

IDEA = out of district for Mat-Su (based out of Galena), great reviews rom everyone who is with them, give you lots of freedom, but they only give you 1700$ of your allotment (why, I hven't figured out yet)

 

Raven = not in-district for Mat-Su, whether people are happy or not depends on where they live/local office (fairbanks = happy, Anchorage = not so). I heard too many bad reviews, plus they're out of district for us, so I'm not considering them.

 

 

Like Rik-e, I also have looked at Louise's farmschool, and it seems great, but it would take just too big a chunk out of the allotment. It's fine if you're using the farmschool as the "main focus" of your homeschooling, but for me it would be more a supplement to what I myself want to do/teach, and for a supplement it's too expensive.

 

Oh, and I was told the fixed costs for the co-op in Big Lake are 2x25$ (25 for the national org., 25 for the local co-op). Then there are just some additional costs for the class materials etc. So it's really not that expensive. Classes are only on Fridays, btw.

 

Ok, that's the point I'm at right now. I'm thinking abut signing up with Twindly Bridge at the moment, but IDEA is still a possibility as well.

I've also been researching stuff like curriculum and teaching methods online, have found tons of helpful sites that I never knew about (did you know there's something called "teachertube" which is like youtube, just with educational videos etc.? orngbiggrin.gif),and in general haven't slept too much winky.gif

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#17 of 23 Old 02-06-2012, 01:54 PM
 
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I'm actually in Anchorage and I guess I was talking about oversight programs. The ones I know of are Raven and Family Partnership Charter School. I don't really know the differences between what is available and what the technical terms are. I don't mind going over curriculum with someone and coming up with a plan and making sure I meet district standards and I definitely would like to get the money but I wondering the differences between commitments and what is required and what the costs will be compared to what I will get. I was also wondering what is covered and what isn't. For instance if you were noticing your child was having difficulty with reading would it pay for stuff to help with that? Also what would happen if I tried homeschooling and it just wasn't a good fit for either one of us. Would they want the money back if I brought curriculum stuff. 


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#18 of 23 Old 02-06-2012, 10:05 PM
 
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With RAVEN, they work with the local schools to help kids like that. For example, if your child needs Speech Therapy they will complete an IEP and coordinate with your local neighborhood school and get them in for a few classes a week for the speech.

 

They will also so a 1/2 time enrollment if your child wants to attend school for certain classes like Science or Band or something else.

 

I'm not 100% sure but I think most of the homeschool charter schools here in Alaska will do that.

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#19 of 23 Old 02-07-2012, 09:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The ones I know of are Raven and Family Partnership Charter School.[...] Also what would happen if I tried homeschooling and it just wasn't a good fit for either one of us. Would they want the money back if I brought curriculum stuff. 

Also look at IDEA. Everyone seems to love it. Just talked to two more families today that homeschool through IDEA.

 

Concerning your question: As far as I know, if you started homeschooling and then either switched to another program or stopped, they wouldn't want the money back but you'd have to return every non-consumable material to them, i.e. curriculum books & materials, computer, etc. (but not student workbooks/worksheets that had been written in).
 

But that's only what I've heard...as you know, I don't have any experiences of my own yet winky.gif

 

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#20 of 23 Old 02-08-2012, 10:51 AM
 
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I agree with Denali,
I think it also depends on how long you have been enrolled. If you school for a full year, then everything is yours to keep. It you sign up in June, get all your stuff by August but drop them in November, then you will have to return your supplies to them. 

 

One huge advantage to homeschooling a family is that the non-consumables like text books and computer programs you buy once and can use for many, if not all of your kids! That will save you money down the road for sure.

 

There is also Frontier Charter School here in Anchorage although I have to say my very first impression of the principal and office staff rubbed me and my husband the wrong way.  But I have head good things from my children's previous school about them. So how knows. Might be worth looking into.

 

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#21 of 23 Old 02-09-2012, 08:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wanted to add a little piece of new information (at least it was news to me winky.gif):

 

Twindly Bridge has an enrollment cap (around 300 students).....and it has already been reached!

 

So they'll do a lottery around May/June, the first ones on the winner list will probably get in since there should be some spots opening up, the others will go on a waiting list and will be able to take newly available spots (if someone else withdraws, doesn't return, etc.)

 

Last year they had 12 students who got in right after the lottery, and around 80 students on the waitinglist, who got in one by one.....and by end of July or so everyone who wanted a spot had gotten in.

 

So.....If you're interested in enrolling at Twindly Bridge, you need to put your name on a "contact list". They will thend send you a link to the lottery form (sometime in April/May or so, I think).....and then, after the lottery, you will be either "in" or on the waiting list.

 

Just wanted to put that info out there....I hadn't seen that anywhere before.redface.gif

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#22 of 23 Old 02-09-2012, 09:42 PM
 
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that's very helpful. Thank you!

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#23 of 23 Old 07-30-2012, 01:11 PM
 
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Anyone have experience with Cyber Links?

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