Monthly Archives: September 2012

Is Virtual School For Real?

Oh, this Virtual Public School is the real thing alright! We  have every subject we love and every one we don’t!  We have teachers, and attendance, and field-trips, and standardized testing, etc.  Just like a real public school.  Within that seemingly endless list of structure and requirements is a TREMENDOUS amount of flexibility.  The kids are placed according to their abilities, they get as much one on one attention as they need from both me and their teachers, we determine the structure of our school day, week, month, year within general guidelines.  The kids aren’t distracted by the politics of schools, or of students.  We don’t have to wear the right clothes, or watch the right TV shows, or play the right video games to fit in.  We are home and we all fit here!!!  This is truly “real”.  Real kids being who they really are!

We aren’t running on all cylinders yet.  This is a rather slow process;  getting all registered, then getting our log-ins and permissions all set up, getting pc’s and printer delivered and set up, and getting our giant boxes of curriculum for each student. We began our schooling with just our online access and with both the math books and the science books online for most students we are able to begin there.  But even these will get easier with the actual books in front of us.  There are also extra practice pages and activity pages that will come with the books and will help to reenforce the concepts.  In retrospect it was good to start with just a couple of subjects for our first year in order to begin to understand the process of logging in, checking mail, and finding assignments for the day.  Less overwhelming I think.

Some of the biggest challenges have been to learn the “system” for each student.  Learning how and where to log in, and then what to do from there.  Swimming in an unknown and unexplored ocean of possibility on how to structure the day and how to attend to five boys who all need “teacher-mama” at the same time has been a struggle.  I think too, that emotions are running high because they are missing some of the regular back to school social excitement and it is always difficult to learn a new routine, especially when there isn’t a person who has “been there, done that” and set up some more specific rules.  We are definitely finding our way, and including them in some of the decision-making about peripherals like “gym” and “arts and crafts” has been a blessing and given them a sense of ownership and excitement.

The staff and teachers have been AMAZING!!  Kind, patient, responsive, and generally upbeat and happy to help, encourage, and answer questions!  They are truly a blessing.  There are only five people with whom we need to interact and once we were registered and set up, we truly just need to interact with our teachers.  Since we have a string of kids across different grades we have three teachers for the family.  All three have been very interactive with me and the students.  Very encouraging and positive, but also being directive when appropriate.  We are truly blessed to have these new women in our lives helping us with this new experience.

This whole process has been new to all of us.  I have homeschooled and the kids have gone to public school, but those really are rather different experiences than this.  This is new, exciting, intriguing, scary, and frustrating all at the same time.  We are finding our way and I am sure we will find our groove, which I am also sure will flow and sway and evolve and change all the time.  Flexibility within a structure is key here…but isn’t that the key to most things in life?