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Cyber schools...

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My dh brought home some brochures and reading material from a cyber charter school. He really wants me to consider this as an option for my oldest for next year - she'll be in fifth grade.


We've done cyber charter in second grade and it was just not a good fit for us. I felt that for a second grader it was way too aggressive. Plus, I missed the freedom to choose readers and read-alouds. We just didn't have the time to pursue many outside academic interests.


But now we'll be in middle school, and I'm wondering if I shouldn't consider going back to a more reginmented program. Although it doesn't follow much of the "classic" model, it does have many strengths. My dh loves the economic savings as well as the technical exposure my dc will have (he's a techie).


Has anyone had experience with cyber schools at the middle elementary school? Is it massively time consuming? Would it be doable while teaching three kids? Just trying to wrap my mind around this. Thanks.

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Amy, we cybered in PA for 2 years. Which are you considering? We were with PAVCS first and then Agora opened so we switched to them. I had dc in K, 2nd and 4th the first year and then, obviously, 1st, 3rd and 5th the next. We used the K12 curriculum. I will caution you against PAVCS. THey have become extremely "public schoolish". It's the reason we left them. Very in your face, requiring MORE work above and beyond monthly work samples, more conferences, online "classes" with your teacher, etc. K12 was demanding enough in 5th and having "extra" to do was just not cool. Agora was better, but I'll tell you...I yearned for the flexibility in choosing my own schedule and my own curriculum. Coming from hs independently, you might find a cyber a bit too "restrictive" I guess would be the word.


That being said, there are lots of positives, esp. if you use the K12 curriculum. It might help if I knew which cyber you were considering...I could help you more!



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Amy, in Pennsylvania there are many cyber school options (I read that PA leads the nation in the quantity of different schooling options). And I understand that there are many different approaches for each of them.


For instance, there is PA Cyber Charter School at http://www.wpccs.com/


Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School at



Connections Academy at



Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School at



Agora Charter School



21st Century Charter School



I think there may be more options available too. I have heard some people who were very satisfied, and some who felt tied to the computer (lacking time to follow individual interests). At the high school level, some of these programs will pay for college courses, and each offers a different curricula and emphasis. I think there was a big arts center in Butler county near us that had a very nice home-schooled crowd of musicians.


Let us know what you discover as you research this! Good luck.

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We are using a cyberschool for 5th & 1st this year. We've been with the school for 3 years(ds-3rd,4th 5th/dd-k,1st). I mostly like it but I'm so tempted to drop the kids out sometimes. Our school is becoming more "enforcing" with each passing year. I understand that they have their rules to follow but with each passing year there are more rules...and more rules... This past year they introduced online classes. It was a mess for awhile. I think the classes are good for a 5th grader but my 1st grader is required to take them as well. Since she can't spell big words, I'm her stenographer. I think the online classes for 1st graders are idiotic But it's required so...


There are some positives points for cyberschooling. Ds has Asperger's so the cyberschool pays for his speech therapy. They also have an IEP for him. This allows for extra time in assignments and open book tests. Both kids have a computer-one's a laptop and both have a color printer. When we run out of ink they send new cartridges. Up until now, we have been using Calvert curriculum. The school is changing to a new curriculum in the fall. Both kids can use brainpop as part of the school as well as access to online practice for the PSSAs. All PA required tests are provided by the school. We just need to show up. We receive money each year for internet charges and money for "educational expenses" They just paid me for purchasing the IEW writing program.


I must admit that I cut out some of the fluff. When dd was in K, the Calvert curriculum wanted her to cut and paste everything. It made her crazy so I only required a few assignments to be cut and pasted. I add in some other things as well. The kids listen to SOTW at lunch and then we do the map work & questions. I've added Singapore Math to the program that we are using. We watch educational dvds, do lots of hands on stuff and take field trips.


I think using a cyberschool can be a good experience as long as you aren't a slave to it. It also might depend on which one you sign up with. Some are better than others. We're using PDELA. I like it most of the time. Any more questions please ask.

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I've done PAVCS K12 in the past and found it way too restrictive, like SueGinPA said. I'm thinking this one may be more flexible, but it's hard to say since it is technically, still public school.


I plan on meeting with an admissions officer in the next week, but was hoping to get some feedback here first. I'm especially interested in opinions on the Calvert program since that's the curriculum I'd be using.


BTW, I don't plan on enrolling my early elementary school students...I know I can get through the 3r's much more efficiently than the Calvert program used by PAVCS.

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A couple things. Have your younger children ever been enrolled in a public or private school? You know that in PA you are not required to enroll your kids until they are 9yo, right? I made that mistake w/ my now ds8 and had to continue enrolling him or registering intent to hs. I wish I knew then what I know now and I wouldn't have to be accounting for him until 2009!


As for PACyber and Calvert...never used either but I have heard several different opinions. One being that PACyber is a bit more flexible in their scheduling. I have not heard great things about Calvert. TracyR is using PACyber and Calvert right now...we just had a discussion about it. I'll have her PM you if you'd like. I know she's not that thrilled about Calvert for her dd. Did you know there is a Yahoo group for PACyber as well as cyber schooling in general in PA? They might be a big help to you in your decision.

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The greatest thing we've ever done in our homeschooling path was to put my youngest in the state's virtual academy for 7th grade this past year (and he's enrolled for 8th next year too). It was definitely different from unschooling then eclectic methods, and we did have to jump through a few hoops, but it was wonderful!


We (in Texas) have to log hours outside of what is done from the k12 program itself (because THAT doesn't take enough hours according to the state). So all read alouds, Bible study, computer programming, musical instrument, art contests, nature hikes, etc time is recorded also.


I can't help very much because all programs are different, but we have REALLY enjoyed 7th grade and are looking forward to 8th. My older child only WISHES this had been available when she was younger.



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Hi Amy!

Although I have several friends who use cyber charter schools, and have been tempted by the lure of all the free stuff myself, I have a few reasons why I would not choose that option. The primary one is what you mentioned: the loss of freedom to choose how to homeschool. Though I've heard that PA Cyber Charter allows the most freedom of the options here in PA, there's no getting around the fact that you are committing to a pre-made curriculum. Your science is Calvert science, your grammar Calvert grammar, your history, Calvert history. You can't follow your children's interests, or local opportunities that arise to study different subjects, to the degree that you could otherwise.


It limits the degree to which a student can participate in outside classes and co-ops, too, because of the course-load that is already set in stone at home. My rising 7th grader will have his science, French, literature, and art classes next year at our local co-op. This will take a large burden off of me, allow him classroom experience, and give him the chance to work more independently. There will be large amounts of homework-- and he wouldn't be able to do that if he were in a cyber charter school learning those subjects.


You also largely give up the opportunity to learn as a family. One of the benefits of homeschooling for me is allowing my kids to learn together, and to learn with them. That means we stay in the same time period of history together, and in the same general area of science together (with each one doing appropriate level work in that area.) You can't do that as well when one or more of your children has to study pre-assigned topics.


Another factor for my family is that I want to give my children a biblically based, God-centered education. This would be more difficult for me if I were to use all completely secular materials. I don't use all Christian materials, but it is nice to be able to use materials with that viewpoint for some subjects at least. And since we are all learning together, I can integrate our family's beliefs into our learning in a way that I couldn't if one of my children were working largely independently on his own subjects.


There are other reasons too, but these are my primary ones. Honestly, I think a big draw is all the FREE STUFF, and though our family could certainly use that savings, I wouldn't feel right deciding on a charter school for that reason. It doesn't feel right to me. I wonder how many families would choose the cyber school route if it were not free?


Anyway, just some things that I've thought about. Hopefully this helps in some way.



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