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Why We Chose An Online Homeschooling Program

We use an online homeschooling program – a cyber charter school. Because Grace was beginning to read and write in the fall after she turned 4, I thought it was time to get her into a formal school program. There are a number of cyber schools in Pennsylvania; we use the only one that has a program for 4-year-olds.

I initially enrolled Grace in the cyber school to avoid the copious record keeping required of homeschoolers in our state. If she wasn't in a public school, I would have to provide my local school district with attendance records, a list of all books used throughout the year, standardized test scores, and a portfolio spanning the year's activities and assessments.

why use a cyber school for homeschoolingI know some families (and many homeschool organizations) balk at cyber school because it is a public school, but it really is the best option for us right now.

The cyber school keeps attendance records on our behalf. Though it does require logging in to their website daily, I can do it from my iPhone. They also give us curriculum for all the state-required subjects, a laptop, a tablet, a printer, a few other technology-related things, and a really nice box of school and gym supplies.

Parents choose to homeschool for a myriad of reasons, some of which are not compatible with cyber schools. I get that.

Our reasons for homeschooling are very compatible with the cyber school. We homeschool because I believe a traditional school environment can't educate my extremely bright children as well as I can. I have four reasons to support this decision:

  1. I have a master's degree in teaching and curriculum, a bachelor's degree in science education and earth science, and a certificate in teaching writing. I taught high school science for ten years, until I quit to raise (and teach) my kids.
  2. There is no doubt that instruction in a class of one or two is far superior to instruction in a class of 24 (or more! The number was as high as 30 in my school – and that was before the harsh budget cuts of the last 3 years.).  Add a plethora of special needs students to the mix, and an obedient, able student is often on her own.
    • I'm not complaining about the school system or criticizing teachers here. Good teachers work really hard, and I applaud them. The system just doesn't work well for a quiet, bright, compliant kid. It probably never did.
  3. I was a gifted student in the traditional school system for twelve years. (I skipped eighth grade.) I learned to help others, to sit and wait, and to get by with the least amount of work possible. The moments when I was challenged were few enough that I learned to resent them. I got lazy.That's not to say I had poor teachers. I had a few lackluster ones, but the majority were terrific. A few were truly excellent, finding ways to challenge me and make me grow.
  4. The reality of education for the masses is that it's geared to the average student. Teachers (myself included) are not trained to challenge the brightest students. In my eight years of undergrad and graduate education, I had one fifty-minute lecture on the needs of gifted students. I would guess that most teachers had a similar experience.

I think the public school system does a great job for most kids, but it isn't right for my kids.

So. The cyber school is a near-perfect solution for us. As long as it meets our needs, we'll stick with it. If it doesn't meet our needs, we'll branch out on our own or find a different cyber school.

That's the idea of homeschooling, right? To create a plan that works best for your kids?

© 2012 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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12 thoughts on “Why We Chose An Online Homeschooling Program”

  1. I really, really want to do some sort of homeschool (you know that already), but I doubt my ability to remain patient with my child. We are doing some un-schooling this summer & i’m excited about it. Just need to work on me

  2. My friend, thank you for sharing your heart and your viewpoint. I really appreciate your words and the thought behind your family’s decision. So often I think that there is a too quick to judge mentality – and I agree with you – it can be different {and right} for each family, each year, each student.
    Love ya!
    Rachel

  3. Great post, Tara, and so incredibly true. Every family has different needs, different learning styles, and different responsibilities. And I agree, too, that the system isn’t meant for the child you described. As a former teacher, WITH a master’s in gifted, who worked with elementary gifted kids for six years in the public school system, who is now homeschooling her own gifted kids, I’ve become a strong proponent for homeschooling {in any form} for gifted kids.

    Some gifted kids are compliant, some fall under the radar, others chaff at the restrictions and the re-learning that they are forced to do, and MOST turn off of learning. The best education for gifted kids is individual. Some like book-work {like my precocious 4-year-old who prefers workbooks and checklists} and others die a slow death at the thought.

    I’ve been criticized in my community for taking my kids’ education into my own hands instead of working to reform the system from within, but I won’t sacrifice my own gifted kids’ education to change it for future kids. I’ll write about what we do and why, but their minds won’t be sacrificed to that end. I owe it to them to preserve their love of learning, in any way I can, and to encourage them to maximize their talents.

    Really, all parents owe it to their kids to make the best decisions for them after weighing all options. Just like no one method of homeschooling is right for any one kid/family, neither is homeschooling itself right for every family. It’s right for ours, and it sounds like your decision is perfect for yours.

    Thanks for the post. 🙂

  4. Very, very, very intrigued with this Tara. As a teacher, I am watching the system fail my child. My soon to be fourth grader knows how to work the system and is not reaching his potential for a number of reasons. We moved to a new school and things are better, but not sure what else we can do. With everything going on and the requirements in NY, I am quite afraid to go down this road. With my youngest heading to kindergarten I wonder if I should look into this now. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Love this post. I feel like sometimes other homeschoolers frown at the fact that we use a virtual school for almost all classes. I have taught my kids in the past, but right now, the classes available at our virtual school are awesome! I am here to help them when they need me.

    Your blog has such a great feel. Honesty.. I think that’s what it is. Nice job! I’ll be back 🙂

    • In my experience, it’s been more than a frowning. I’ve been told flat out that we’re not welcome to join a homeschool organization because we aren’t “real homeschoolers.” Whatever! That kind of attitude is absurd. We’re all teaching our kids at home using the resources we’ve chosen. I don’t think it should matter who’s doing the record keeping.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂

      • That’s too bad, Tara. Not the kind of group you want to be involved with anyway. As tough as it is to be a mom, why do some moms have to be so judgmental??

  6. I go back and forth on this all the time (with myself). My 2nd grader is already complaining of boredom, but when he was tested for gifted, he missed it by a couple points, so he’s’ stuck in the middle. I fear my Kindergartener will end up in a similar boat.

    But I fear I will not have the patience, the time to devote, or the ability to adequately socialize my kids. Also, we tend to get irritated easily with each other when we spend too much time together (like this summer, there has been an insane amount of fighting between the kids – when they go to school and are away from each other all day, they appreciate each other more. My husband and I are the exact same way). I must say, I am looking forward to having them going back to school and getting some quiet.

    That said, I would have LOVED to be able to do cyber school when I was a kid. I was severely socially awkward so I hated school. It’s a really big decision and commitment. I don’t know that I have what it takes.

    • You have to rest in knowing what’s best for your own kids and your own family. If you’re already dealing with an insane amount of fighting and looking forward to school starting up again, you are probably right that going off to school is the best thing for you. Maybe you could talk to C’s teacher about challenging him in additional ways? I don’t know what’s available at that level.

      Socialization isn’t the problem that people think it is, but patience and time are big. At Grace’s level, I spend every minute of our school time with her, giving her instructions and helping her to figure things out. I know with her, I’ll be doing it alongside her for years to come.

      Despite all of your objects, it sounds like you’re really thinking about cyber school. You can always give me a call or catch me on Twitter if you want to know more about how it works.

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