We here it all…you know all the common misconceptions about not sending your children to “traditional” school. Of course with six children we are use to hearing all kind of opinions in general. So why did we choose to have our children attend a virtual school vs a traditional public school?
This wasn’t a decision that we took lightly or made quickly, contrary to the opinions of some people we know. It was the second semester of the 2011-2012 school year. There were a lot of changes that had been made to our once amazing school. We were blessed to have our children at an Edison school. At the time they began, it was a higher quality school and the atmosphere of the school and families there was different the the rest of the schools in the township. We were happy there. As budget cuts were made, class sizes increased and the “uniqueness” of the school slowly went away, we were essentially left with a run of the mill elementary school with a fancy title. Our oldest son had also began middle school, so we were beginning to see the issues that may happen at that level and higher too.
I’ll admit, I did a lot of research before even thinking about approaching my husband with the subject. I looked for reviews, listen to online sessions, researched and searched and researched and searched some more. I finally called to talk with K12 about Hoosier Academy Virtual School. After the conversation with them and the research I had done, I was almost 100% convinced this was something we had to consider. Now all that really remained was approaching the subject at the right time and in the right manner with my husband. So with all the courage I had, and knowing I’d be facing a huge critic with a lot of hard questions I gave it a go. To my surprise after a few weeks of discussions he said let’s try it. He so graciously reminded me though, that it was my choice and when the children were driving me nuts and I wanted to pull my hair out…”remember YOU WANTED to do this”.
I gathered the paperwork and enrolled the children for the 2012-2013 school year. We were on the fence about sending our 5th child who would be starting Kindergarten in the fall to regular school or virutal. In the end my husband won and we sent her to the school the other children had attended. We waited to officially tell anyone until that summer. I’ll be honest, I just didn’t feel like defending my decision, and in some ways I was terrified I wouldn’t have the right answers to defend it yet.
So at this point our decision was based on a feeling that there was more out there for the children, more ways for them to learn, better ways to spend our precious time with our children as they were young, and greater opportunities to help them learn at their own pace and explore in more depth the things that really interested them. I was also confident that we’d know how it went based on the standardized testing scores. Well as anyone knows from Indiana, we have no idea on that yet and we’re not even sure if we ever will. Hmmm! After the first year and lots of bumps, frustrations, exhaustion mixed in with days of great learning, eye opening experiences, laughter and love, we decided that for the 2013-2014 school year we would come back to HAVS and this time we’d have all six of our student there.
Now when someone asks me why we chose to “home school” our kids, I kindly remind them, we are actually in virtual school. It’s the best of both worlds. I have great educational partners, who love what they do, love the children of our school, and are excited about teaching them using technology and traditional methods. I personally am not confident enough to choose among the many options for homeschooling curriculum and not rich enough to provide all the amazing materials that we receive by going through HAVS.
So now when we get the looks, the questions and the sighs when we talk about our choices for our children’s education, I can proudly say we choose this because….
- Greater learning opportunities
- Strong Teachers and Staff to guide us through the process
- Amazing materials and technology to teach them exactly how they each learn individually vs how the entire classroom must be taught.
- More time as a family
- Time to explore their interests
- Extra time to spend teaching them about real “life” skills
- The opportunity to learn new things as a family
- A stronger bond between the children
- Leadership skills and confidence through helping each other learn things that are their strengths
- The ability to know when and who to ask for help when they struggle.
- And my husbands #1, sum it all up, no nonsense answer “we KNOW they aren’t getting left behind PERIOD!”
Is virtual school for everyone…no probably not, but there are other alternatives out there to a traditional five day a week brick and mortar school. I would encourage everyone to at least take a look at the different options like, virtual, hybrid, private, traditional homeschooling. You may find that you are just fine where you are, or you might discover there are options out there that are worth researching and possibly giving it a go!