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We have homeschooled for 4 years, and before that a few of my kids were in private school. For the first time, I am highly considering one of the 3 virtual schools in our state, SC. Connections academy, K12, Calvert.

I am fully aware of the "it's not really homeschooling, your letting the public school into your home" stuff! What I am looking for are the pros and cons to any of these programs from people who have used them.

 

Oh- and this would be for rising 1st, 6th, and possibly 10th grades

Thank you!

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It's kind of like auto pilot. There are seasons for it, I personally think. It also works very well for some families long term. NO shame in that from this user though somtimes it can seem like settling (if that's the right word???).

 

Con: no wiggle room or time to branch out and explore a topic your kids are interested in DURING school time. You can do it on your own of course, but their requirements will still be there tomorrow if you choose to do something else.

 

Pro: no scrounging for the best spelling workbook, no deciding which order to read your history stuff, and no working out what to do tomorrow morning when you've been in town all afternoon

 

We used Calvert but not any of it's computer components way back when I first began schooling at home. It was a huge blessing to know what a lesson on teaching multiplication by 8's was supposed to encompass. Helped me keep expectations reasonable...

Edited by momee
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We started with a cyber school, and it was a good way to start for us. It gave me time to figure out what I wanted. I also appreciated the support from their staff.

 

Pros: Everything is included and free! Every little school supply was provided. Ours included internet reimbursement and a gym allowance. They also offered fun field trips and outside activities. A wide variety of classes are offered.

 

Cons: I was a public school teacher before HS and I felt really comfortable, so I didn't need the scripted lessons. I also didn't enjoy them, but this could be a pro for others. We couldn't work at the level we needed. My oldest was the only one in school at the time. As a kindergartener, he read at a fourth grade level, but could barely write legibly. He was only a year or so ahead in math. So, we could move at our own pace and get to the next year (we finished k and 1st in k year), but we had to complete every single thing and then we had to move ahead in everything. He really needs to be in all different levels in his subjects so this really didn't work for us.

 

I can see this really working for some families, though!

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This was my fear but dh and I went to the Calvert virtual school information session the other night and the teacher assured us that you don't need to do every single problem, if they need to take their time and need more practice you can do that. And if they "get it" right away they also don't need to do every single problem. I hope that is the truth and she wasn't just saying that to appeal to the crowd.

 

Cons: I was a public school teacher before HS and I felt really comfortable, so I didn't need the scripted lessons. I also didn't enjoy them, but this could be a pro for others. We couldn't work at the level we needed. My oldest was the only one in school at the time. As a kindergartener, he read at a fourth grade level, but could barely write legibly. He was only a year or so ahead in math. So, we could move at our own pace and get to the next year (we finished k and 1st in k year), but we had to complete every single thing and then we had to move ahead in everything. He really needs to be in all different levels in his subjects so this really didn't work for us.

 

I can see this really working for some families, though!

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I used K12 through a virtual school this year for ds11 & ds9 as a jumping off point into homeschooling. It did give me some time to learn about my boys' learning styles and what works well for them as far as curriculum. However, I found the curriculum to be very rigid, and inflexible for my sons when they needed to slow or speed the pace. I was constantly contacting their teacher (who was very helpful), to get permission to modify this, adjust that, etc. I also found all the "paperwork" and "accountability" for each item on each assignment, and each school hour of each day, to be excessive and a great waster of my precious time. There is also a heavy emphasis on testing, which I am not fond of as an extensive means of evaluation.

I will be homeschooling without K12 or the virtual school next year.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We have done ORVA this school year for my K and 5th grade daughters! For us it has been a great success and a great fit for our family. From what I understand each Virtual Academy requires different things so I can only speak for our state.

 

PROS

The curriculum was a great fit for my girls. It is thorough and detailed. Both of my girls worked through their grade level and then moved onto the next grade level in many subjects (my K DD finished all of her work and is working entirely in 1st grade). The History and Language Arts really seem to follow the classical model. She is working in Ancients for History and lessons similar to FLL in Language Arts with classic stories, etc.

 

We are free to use the parts of the lessons we want and not the parts we do not want. As long as the student is reaching the objectives for the lesson they really do not care how much of the actual lesson you use. For instance 5th Grade DD is an excellent speller so we just tested on the lists and did no other spelling work.

 

The live classes are excellent and by far my girls favorite parts of their school experience.

 

5th Grade DD is actually going to B&M school next year, so this has been an excellent transition for her and it has made getting her placed into the appropriate classes far easier.

 

It is FREE and I have to plan nothing :). I do incorporate some fun projects of my own when I want to, but this really frees me up to teaching and working directly with my children versus always planning and worrying what to do next. For me this was the selling point. I love being able to teach my children without the pressure of planning. This was a HUGE deal for us.

 

CONS

It does require a lot of time commitment and is not as flexible as "normal" homeschooling with required hours, etc. We did not mind this at all, some people do.

 

Language Arts promotes together....so your student needs to advance in Literature, Grammar, Phonics, etc. all at one time. Not the best system.

 

Everything is mastery based. Many lessons require an assessment after to see if the child has mastered the concepts. This has been totally fine for us. However, if a student does not master the concepts the same assessment is repeated. Not really ideal for a student who would just study the wrong answers and then answer them correctly. It would be nice if the assessment questions changed.

 

We have had an overall great experience. DD K is re-enrolled for next year. DD 5th is going to Middle School and this had to do with her needs, not with the school in the slightest. Honestly, I would have re-enrolled her in a heartbeat, but we feel that a school setting will be better for her learning style.

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we just finished LAVCA for kindergarten. I liked a lot of things about it, my son learned a great deal. The PHonics program was a perfect fit for both of us and my son is a fluent reader. I will continue with the phonics program for first grade but not the rest. The time factor was big for me. Plus I hated being accountable to someone else. I thought I wouldn't mind it, and I didn't at first but as the year went on it got on my nerves. I hated having to have a certain amount of hours. I also hated it that we were in the public school system but had much more requirements than the B&M schools do. I really couldn't plan things the way I would have liked. I would have preferred skipping most of the music and art, and being able to block schedule subjects. If I could have done that I would have been happier.

 

the comment on testing is right on. For kindy we had to do DIBELS three times. The emphasis is on speed. I was to have my son practice reading off letters and sounds as fast as he could. I didn't do that - my son doesn't function well with that kind of pressure.

 

it's a good fit for some families, but not for us. I don't regret doing it tho, I learned a lot.

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I forgot to add that we do block scheduling. Our VA does not care how we do our lessons as long as we are doing them in a week. We did not have music or art for Kindergarten but we had art added when DD advanced all subjects to 1st Grade. We block history and science and art. It was not working well for us without blocking....just too much jumping around every day. Once we blocked our subjects it was smooth sailing :)

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I forgot to add that we do block scheduling. Our VA does not care how we do our lessons as long as we are doing them in a week. We did not have music or art for Kindergarten but we had art added when DD advanced all subjects to 1st Grade. We block history and science and art. It was not working well for us without blocking....just too much jumping around every day. Once we blocked our subjects it was smooth sailing :)

 

 

yes, certainly it was too much jumping. For a five year old boy's attention span it was difficult.

 

not only did we have music and art for kindy, but we also had social studies and health, along with LA, Phonics, handwriting, science, math and history. I did social studies and health right away in the first month to get them out of the way. I skimped on handwriting because my son hates to write and I figure at 5 years old he has plenty of time to develop that skill. I did like the curriculum in that in the other subjects there was not a lot of writing required for K.

 

our first teacher wanted something done in each subject every single day. It wasn't until March when we got another teacher that we got a break from doing that. I was grateful STudy Island wasn't required for K, but I think it is for first grade. That's another reason I am not doing K12 again. My son and I absolutely hate Study Island...

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