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Janeway

Virtual school? and switching to all CLE or Monarch, etc

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I have really struggled with my son and academics. He can be great outside of academics and has some special needs. But things had become unworkable with him as far as academics go. I enrolled him in a private online school, specifically a Christian one, not K12 or Connections. Turns out, he loves it. And there is no more battle. He just gets up in the morning and does his work, no argument (so far, knock on wood). He says he likes it. I had really thought a virtual school would be awful and we would just fight through it so that I can get the public school to take him in the fall. Instead, it has been wonderful!

 

I registered him for a couple public online schools for the fall with one being my favorite so far. The other is Connections which has gotten such mixed reviews, so I am leaning toward one that is not K12 or Connections but rather run through a school district.

 

Does anyone have experience with public virtual academies? If we do not stay with a virtual academy, whether it be the one he is at now (private, used Alpha Omega) or the public school one, he will have to go off to public school. I just cannot return to what we were doing before. Of course, going over to a home school program that is all workbook or on computer or a mix such as CLE or Alpha Omega can always be another option. 

 

I would love to hear experiences from others with these options. Son is really leaning toward not wanting to return to regular public school so I am figuring out what else might work for us since this virtual academy is going so well.

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If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Why not keep him in the private online school?  You said it has been wonderful.  Continue the wonderful.

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My DS has spent 6 yrs at a Connections Academy Charter school from 6th grade to 10th grade. I like that everything is integrated into one platform. Everything is linked to his home page. Overall, I like the crriculum. All the basics are there and lots of different electives that are not available at our local public school. Just like anywhere else, some courses are better than others, and every so often the individual courses are updated. (Yes the courses are designed to meet Cammon Core standards which many people hate, but I don't have a problem with that.) Some teachers are better than others, and some are more helpful than others.

The biggest downside is being stuck to a standard public school schedule. The lower grades have more flexibility, but it is tougher at the high school level to take a day off from assigned lessons and do something special. We do have to deal with state testing and all the other state requirements. He has not been a good independent learner. He does much better interacting with live people,(which means me) but at the time this was the best choice we had.

It is helpful for our patent-child relationship to have the outside accountability and someone other than mom assigning work. 

He will be leaving the Connections school at the end of this year. He just got accepted into a blended learning school that is a bit over 1hour from home. He will be in a special program for 11th and 12th graders where he will be required to take at least one dual enrollment course each semester at the local college, then he will attend two lab sessions each week. That is where he has to be physically at the school for two 4 hour blocks. The rest of his school work will be done via Edunuity at home. If students fall behind in lessons, the must attend the school more days. The school does have more requirements and supervision for students 10th grade and down. He is very excited about the opportunities at the new school, and I am happy to be able to cut back on the time that I have had do school work with him (although I have at times enjoyed learning along side him while doing lessons together) 

As a comparison, the new school had three different web site portals that must be used to do the different required student tasks. The school requires new parents to attend a 1 day parent orientation to learn how to navigate all the parts of the system

 

Is there a particular reason that you don't want to continue the private school?

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1 hour ago, City Mouse said:

My DS has spent 6 yrs at a Connections Academy Charter school from 6th grade to 10th grade. I like that everything is integrated into one platform. Everything is linked to his home page. Overall, I like the crriculum. All the basics are there and lots of different electives that are not available at our local public school. Just like anywhere else, some courses are better than others, and every so often the individual courses are updated. (Yes the courses are designed to meet Cammon Core standards which many people hate, but I don't have a problem with that.) Some teachers are better than others, and some are more helpful than others.

The biggest downside is being stuck to a standard public school schedule. The lower grades have more flexibility, but it is tougher at the high school level to take a day off from assigned lessons and do something special. We do have to deal with state testing and all the other state requirements. He has not been a good independent learner. He does much better interacting with live people,(which means me) but at the time this was the best choice we had.

It is helpful for our patent-child relationship to have the outside accountability and someone other than mom assigning work. 

He will be leaving the Connections school at the end of this year. He just got accepted into a blended learning school that is a bit over 1hour from home. He will be in a special program for 11th and 12th graders where he will be required to take at least one dual enrollment course each semester at the local college, then he will attend two lab sessions each week. That is where he has to be physically at the school for two 4 hour blocks. The rest of his school work will be done via Edunuity at home. If students fall behind in lessons, the must attend the school more days. The school does have more requirements and supervision for students 10th grade and down. He is very excited about the opportunities at the new school, and I am happy to be able to cut back on the time that I have had do school work with him (although I have at times enjoyed learning along side him while doing lessons together) 

As a comparison, the new school had three different web site portals that must be used to do the different required student tasks. The school requires new parents to attend a 1 day parent orientation to learn how to navigate all the parts of the system

 

Is there a particular reason that you don't want to continue the private school?

It was just never the plan. I always heard such bad things about online school that I figured it would not work out. Honestly, his education from 3 yr old preschool on up has been a constant struggle of what he won't do. He pretty much got kicked out of preschool because he refused to do anything they asked, at three years old. 

 

Also, the private school is using Alpha Omega which I always understood to be not that great. But, he seems happy and fine with it, which surprises me. I just never considered online school as a long term plan. Now I am thinking about it. 

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If he does well online with Alpha Omega curriculum, can you just enroll him in Alpha Omega Academy? Or if that’s not cost effective, maybe just use Monarch? It’s always on sale at christanbook.com

Most of the reviews I’ve seen for Aplha Omega Academy are very positive for the most part. And if your son loves it, you can’t beat that.  I would not consider their curriculum inferior to what he would get from the local public school. Just my 2 cents.

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HOnestly if it's working stick with it!  Make sure you enroll him in the academy and that he is actually doing all the extra required essays and projects. Monarch requires a lot of extra stuff that's not INSIDE the software, in order to be a complete program and it could be verrryyyy easy to constantly overlook those things, even if you intended to follow through. I would encourage you to enroll him in AOP Academy and continue with the same online curriculum he is enjoying.

I would also try to have a lifetstyle of learning, on the side, Always go to the library every week.  Watch documentaries on rainy days or when you're sick or not feeling well.  Visit one museum every season.  Look into political candidates and issues together and talk about the options offered, and why you vote the way you do.  Check out new or interesting things around town.  Just be a learner, with him...This will make up for any faults or deficiencies in the curriculum.  

 

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PS we used Connections Academy for 10 days while my nephew stayed with us, and my sister used it for an entire year.  It's disorganized and very disjointed. I absolutely do not recommend it!

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If what you used this year has worked so well, if he's actually liked it and been successful in completing the required work, why change it? Is there something missing or lacking that you're hoping to find elsewhere?

 

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We had a positive experience with a virtual high school run by a local school district. They were open to non-traditional students, such as homeschoolers, and very willing to work with us to get our student appropriately placed. 

The classes were too easy, and he felt it was too much busywork, so he asked to return to homeschool the next year. But he enjoyed the teachers, felt well-supported, and made several friends (online in class chats and local meet-ups arranged by teachers as optional tutoring sessions) he remains in touch with. He and a friend got permission to plan two dances, which were well-attended and fun. He did have to take the state testing, but the school will tell you upfront that they don't prepare the kids for them or take class time to do anything related to the tests. They administer them because they're required to. We got the results mailed to us and never heard boo from the school about them, or his scores. When we requested all of his records to pull him out at the end of the year, they wished him well and had no hard feelings. They were great when he contacted them in 10th and 11th grades to see if he could take the PSAT with them (they were happy to!)

It felt like the best of both worlds - teachers who could teach their way, not a mandated way and accountability for him to someone other than to me. Problems I ran into - the student has to participate in live classes, which reduces scheduling flexibility. My son had two Monday classes (0900 and 1300) which ate up that day, and then a single class each of the other days, meeting at various times. That won't bother some people but I like taking random days off. Also, he did all of his work but he also dilly dally'd a lot, switching tabs between school work and Youtube, for example. Some of the classes felt like a lower quality due to the nature of the computer - art was more of a digital art, and a poor one at that. I made him re-take art at home. Biology labs were acceptable, but not great. If he were STEM focused, I would have liked him to retake a lab portion somewhere else doing REAL labs. Final problem was that it wasn't able to offer any UIL classes or teams. 

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