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Thinking of going back to K12...but need suggestions? (any btdt?)


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I haven't posted in a reallllly long time.  Life has taken us on many stressful journeys the last few years.  We are at a sort of crossroads right now and I'm not sure what to do.  Currently we have two, two year olds (both with some special needs), a 9 year old (who is in a residential treatment facility but due to come home in a few months), a 13 year old with severe visual impairments as well as some mild cerebral palsy and aspergers, and last but not least, a 14 year old who has extreme social anxiety.  


Because of the combined disabilities, I am looking for something simple that my 13 and 14 year old can do on their own (for the most part).  I need them to be able to work independently and also be accountable for their work.  I don't have time to sit with them for hours every day.  The idea of sending them to "regular" school is tempting but I know it wouldn't be good for them at this point.  Ds13 needs services that I can't afford independently.  I know if we went with a virtual public school, we would be able to have those services again.


I fight against the structure of the online schools but I know that on my own, I tend to falter and have difficulties keeping them on task.


Has anyone ever used a virtual academy for several special needs children?  Do you regret your decision?  TIA!


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I used it with two kids who are 2E.


So much would depend on the individual instructor and school and how flexible they are willing to be with the assignments. It drove me up.the.wall to have to jump through so many hoops to try to get K12 to work. We were on the special services side of things, where there is a lower teacher:student ratio. The requirements for weekly meetings, weekly online class conferences, paperwork to be sent in, testing to be done at the school site, etc. was a huge, huge time suck. We were struggling to keep up in the pacing of what they wanted to get done in areas where they were challenged and we didn't have time to enjoy what they liked. We eventually worked out a livable schedule....but there was little that could be done to make the material accessible.


Our second year in the program, with my visually impaired, dysgraphic son who has dyscalcic and dyslexic tendencies....we only half-enrolled him and used our own math and history. (Everyone in his IEP agreed that the math book was impossible for him to use and so we used MUS in its place--at our expense. We used SOTW on audio and supplement with stuff from the AG.) The year went better, but the school was less likely to offer services to him because they saw how much I was already working with him. (The OT, SL-P and VT trained me instead for home therapies.)


I'm sharing all of this just so that you know that you need to go into this with your eyes open. Look at the materials. Get the login to look at the online stuff. Chat up the therapists who would provide services. Ask a lot of questions.


If we ever had to go back, I would be more inclined to work with my school district first directly before going to my Virtual Academy. If we still had to go the VA route, I'd have a long chat about expectations and materials first. I agree that with children who are visually impaired that it's rough because the only recourse is through the school system. With my ^dd^ who became blind, it was the only way that we could get some equipment she really needed....


In your situation, if it's only your 13 yo that needs services, do you need to enroll them all?

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Maybe if you were doing things that they could deal with independently, but were not tied to something as rigid as K12 might work.  Of course, I am uncertain how your children's issues affect their functionality using a computer, but I assume K12 was through a computer?


One thing that helped with my 2e kids was that their typing program, vocabulary building program, music lessons and for a while their math program were all things that they did independently using the computer but we were not tied to someone else's agenda and schedule.  


  1. We use Type to Learn 4 for the typing lessons.  I just needed to confirm that they were using correct hand placement and posture when they first started the program and confirm they still are periodically.  
  2. For vocabulary building, I used Wordly Wise 3000 on-line, but I had to help with the final assessments for each level since they were not yet reading or spelling independently at grade level.  It wasn't hard to step in and help on the last part and they could function independently for the rest.  For retention, I did have them make flash cards of the words and practice with each other orally for additional practice on word usage.  
  3. For math we have had to stop using our original curriculum temporarily to remediate math skills but we were using Math Mammoth, and the sheets have instructions written to the student.  There are also videos available on you tube that explain the concepts.  
  4. The other program we were using and intend to continue with, at least as additional practice, would be Teaching Textbooks.  Would using something like Teaching Textbooks for math be helpful since it teaches the student for you off of DVDs but they can go at the pace appropriate for them?  No need for an internet connection if that is an issue and all the print is read to the student as well as printed on the screen.  The workbook you can get with it would match everything on the screen, if print material might work better.  All grades would be tracked on the computer and you could check whenever was convenient to see if they are missing any problems.  It isn't the most robust, but it isn't horrible either.  I met several graduates at a convention in May that had used this system and were all doing well in college at that point.  They all had some sort of special need but were successful in using this independently.
  5. My daughter uses Simply Music on-line lessons for her piano lessons and loves them.  Really short, easy to do, but she is learning piano even though she has terrible sequencing issues.  She can log on independently, play the video lesson on her own as many times as she needs, then practice on her own.
  6. The kids also have color coded bins that contain any materials they may need for whatever they are doing that week, along with their checklist for both school responsibilities and chores.
  7. For chores, I started an apprenticeship.  Each child is working on gaining mastery of a specific chore.  I work with them until they are comfortable doing it completely on their own at a mastery level and reinforce only with positive words.  Once they truly master the chore, that chore moves to a rotation schedule and they move on to another apprenticeship.  Knowing they were in training and weren't expected to know everything after just being told a couple of times, plus making that time a positive bonding time with each of them, really ramped up the enthusiasm for chores.  When they complete an apprenticeship we have a small celebration to emphasize that mastery of life skills is just as important as anything else.

If your children could work independently most of the time on these types of programs, plus maybe add in a more independent language arts program or a science program, too, then there wouldn't be as much you would have to do every day.  Just confirm they are working through the material and seem to be understanding it.  Doing it that way, instead of having to deal with someone else's schedule and expectations that might not match your situation could be a lot less stressful.  It might take a little bit of planning right at first to get a schedule they can work with independently and to find the right program fit, but it might really smooth things out for all of you in the long run.  


To organize things better, and give them more independence, I had to type out the log in codes on a sheet of paper that my kids keep in a notebook along with various reference materials to help them function without me when I need to be working with one and not the other or I need to deal with business issues.  We all also each have our own box for our school supplies like pencils, pens, markers, etc. so no one can say they don't know where a pencil is.  They grab the box with their name on it, and when they are done they pack everything back up in the box and put it back on the shelf.  I do the same thing and I also have a checklist.  I created a template using something off of the Donna Young blog site, and just print it out every Sunday for the coming week then place it in the kids' bins.


Have you looked at Homeschool Buyer's Co-op for ideas?  I got the typing program and the Wordly Wise program through them for pretty cheap.


Not sure any of that helped but big hugs of support.  I hope you find a solution that works.

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Thank you both so much for all of your suggestions :)   I know that a big part of my problem is coming up with a schedule/routine for all of us.  The toddlers seem to really add an element of chaos that seems to disrupt any attempts at structure.  I'm overwhelmed by the amount of phone calls, laundry, house cleaning, social worker visits, therapy, dr's visits, etc that just getting through the day without the house catching on fire or the babies destroying everything in their paths, is a monumental task!  This doesn't even include trying to add school in there for the two older kids :(


I guess I was thinking that K12 would take the pressure off of me, to an extent.  Although, since we've used K12 before, I know that it's not all that simple.  The other factor is that both dd14 and ds13 are struggling academically.  I know that they would have a hard time trying to catch up if they were expected to just start at their grade level with K12.  I need to call them and find out if they would be able to tweak the curriculum a bit for them.


Thank you both again :)  I know it takes time to respond and I appreciate the suggestions :)



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Can you dedicate mornings to just school? Let the afternoons be for the rest of life.

If you can get the olders on a schedule and be proactive with the 2 yos, i think you've got a running shot.


Do you have a sketched out daytimer type of schedule? That's been a lifesaver for me, along with a mealplan, a rough housekeeping plan, and written down school plans. I need the accountability. :)

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We used K12 for 2 years about 4 years ago.    For my 1st/2nd grader it went well but took a LOT of time (more than I usually spend on that age group especially since he was academically ahead).   For my 7th/8th grader it was a bit of a disaster.  I had hoped to get him working independently but he learned to just pass the tests and checkpoints without really getting a grasp on the material.   


My special needs child age 10 at the time did not qualify for K12..  In my area, at least, K12 does not take children more than 2 grades below grade level, and ds is moderately delayed.   So it was a washout for him too because I didn't have the time to do things with him.   I think they will make exceptions with the grade level rule but another local mom in my area had quite a few hassles getting services for her daughter (YMMV).


I like K12's coursework and book choices for the most part and they have a lot of nice features but for us the paperwork and focus on test prep was a huge distraction to learning.   We are using a lot of Memoria Press this year and I'm finding it easier to keep a handle on things because it is more mastery-based.     Just my experience.   I wish K12 would have worked out better for us because I did like the materials and having therapy paid for would have been a huge plus for us since our local school district won't supply for homeschoolers.  



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What about supplementing with Time for Learning?  It goes through High School now.  I know it isn't all that robust (at all), but when we ran into a difficult spell my son was able to log on and do several lessons completely independently each day while I was working on other things.  In fact, he completed all the 2nd grade material in 3 months and really enjoyed a lot of his lessons.  It actually DID help solidify several concepts he had been struggling with and he liked being independent and being in control of what he did each day.  Getting to see how many lessons of a section he had completed really motivated him to keep going.  You would have access one grade above and one grade below whatever grade level you register them for.  Areas where they struggle they could select the lower grade material and work on it until they understand it better....until the toddlers are a little older you may just have to try surviving right now...I wish I had a better option.  I will keep thinking....

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K12 worked for one of my 3 kids using it.  The one it worked for was the one that could test out of everything without having to do the actual work.  However, the teachers said the high school program was different, and more like a brick and mortar, and that he would not do well at it.  The other two kids were too pressured to keep pace in the K12 program, despite 504 plan and promises they would adjust to the student. Those kids totally shut down. (Those are the same two kids who are struggling NOW!...both quite capable.)


However, we are using online virtual school part-time, now, for a couple high school classes (not K12...Greater Schools, I think its called.)  They are working ok, but that might be different if they had a full load of those courses.  Do you have to enroll full-time to get services? or could you enroll part-time?


As for something self-teaching, how about Starline Press?  (secular version of School of Tomorrow/ACE curriculum)  3-week workbooks, and you only grade tests.



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