I thought I’d explain my characterization over there on my side bar about “semi-homeschooling”.

I have been homeschooling my 4 children for more than 10 years. I consider myself a “semi-homeschooling mom” now since 3 of the children are enrolled in charter schools. My 15 year-old daughter has been attending a performing arts charter school since 8th grade. My middle children wanted to try cyberschool for different reasons. That leaves me “driving the bus” for my youngest, who is 10 and considered in the 5th grade.

A lot of people are curious about our experience with public school and cyber school. Overall, it has been positive. Hannah loves her high school. I wouldn’t say it is academically challenging. She’s smart and I know she could be challenged more. But she went there to pursue art and she’s getting that. To a certain extent, her art classes aren’t challenging her but she’s had to suffer through some intro classes. I’m hoping that next year the art will be more challenging, otherwise, her investment in time just isn’t worth it. True that there are influences there that aren’t the greatest but Hannah has a pretty mature perspective. Being home for so many years has contributed to that.

I enrolled Luke and Kate in 2 different cyber schools. Kate would like to go to Hannah’s school eventually which is a satellite of her cyber school. Kate’s school offeres virtual classes, self-paced classes and a mix. She has science and math virtual classes and English, Social Studies and Art self-paced. The biggest challenge has been organizing her time. The school is flexible so I could switch her to all virtual at any time or all self-paced, but I’m not sure that would be advisable.

I chose Luke’s based on the description of various levels within each subject area to accommodate different strengths and weaknesses. I’m not sure the content is different but the level of support is. He can work ahead in his classes and is not required to attend chats (think facetime or skype where the teacher, a board or slide and a list of students and their comments are all visible on the screen) but they are available if he has specific questions about the lesson or assignments.

Overall, both cyber schools have a lot of support, both virtual (videos, websites, slides) and in person (phone, email or chat). In my opinion, both present a lot of busywork and don’t foster innovation and creativity but I think this is true of any conventional school. Luke appreciates the accountability more than Kate. She would rather not be bothered with work that she doesn’t think is interesting or relevant.

Being an artist, I thought Kate would struggle a little in math and science but she has really responded to the challenge that the virtual classes present.

For the most part, I have been able to help them when needed with math but they are quickly approaching topics that I either don’t remember or never had. Sometimes I’m willing to refresh my memory but if I have to learn a thing from scratch, I generally tell them to work harder or watch the lesson again. Both have access to recorded chats and classes.

What about Mark? Since he’s the only one who really needs my attention, he completes his work fairly quickly. Luke’s not readily available to play with him. He’s considering attending the local elementary school or trying one of the cyber schools next year. I think he’s adjust fine to either but I’m here if he wants to stay home, too.

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