Sunday, August 28, 2011

Our new adventure...Virtual Schooling!!!

Last Spring, several things happened that pushed me in the direction of schooling my children myself.  Morgan did not have a good year in middle school last year and Maggie had several incidents on the school bus.  We didn't enroll Marissa in kindergarten last year mainly because I just couldn't see sending her to a school that has over 300 kids in kindergarten.  I started doing research about homeschooling laws in Tennessee last April and came across the K12 website.  The program looked excellent, but Tennessee didn't have a public school option so the cost would be prohibitive.  The kids and I talked about home schooling.  They weren't thrilled about not getting to see their friends at school every day, but they did agree that avoiding the bullying and getting to study things that interested them sounded good.  I have several friends who home school and was able to figure out the umbrella school requirements for Tennessee and requested information about several different types of curriculum.  Paying for a balanced curriculum was definitely going to be our steepest hurdle.

In early July, I saw an article in the local paper and it was a complete answer to my prayers!  That very night, I applied online.  The next day, I scanned and e-mailed all of our supporting documents.  I expected the process to go quickly since it was all online.  Unfortunately, it took over 3 weeks of e-mailing, calling and faxing before the kids were FINALLY approved.  During this time, I was terrified that they would be denied for some reason or that the school would run out of slots.  I tried looking into other programs during the wait, just in case, but Tennessee Virtual Academy was EVERYTHING that I wanted for my children's education.  The day we got the news of our approval, we had a little party.

On August 8th, the kids started school.  Morgan is in 8th grade this year.  He is very advanced in math, science, and language arts.  He struggles with handwriting, coloring, drawing and just about anything else artistic.  In the local school, his lack of artistic ability was severly impacting his grades.  Maggie is in 6th grade this year.  She is advanced in language arts and science and usually does well in math concepts, but she does not know her multiplication tables.  The local school taught her to count on her fingers in place of learning her multiplication facts several years ago and she has been "getting by" without truly learning them ever since.  Marissa is in kindergarten this year, she has never gone to formal school before, but she already knows most of the kindergarten basics.  Melanie is 4 and not formally attending TNVA, but she is enjoying working along side Marissa at most of the kindergarten curriculum.

There have been a few bumps along the way, but overall we are very pleased with virtual schooling.  We have our first field trip this coming Thursday, the kids can't wait!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Photo Flashback

On Saturday our oldest baby will turn 24.  Seems like yesterday he was this small.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Virtual kindergarten

Marissa is child #5 in a 6 child family. Our oldest turns 24 this coming weekend and our youngest turned 4 in May. Marissa turned 6 on August 9th. She started virtual kindergarten on August 8th.

Marissa could have started kindergarten last year, the cut off for Tennessee is 5 by September 30th. I was not ready and I felt it wasn't in her best interest to send her. If she had started last year, she would have been one of the youngest in her class and she would have had to be on the bus at 6:30am everyday (in the dark most of the school year). The school she would have attended has 17 classrooms for kindergarten.....2 wings of the first floor are devoted entirely to kindergarten. At 20 kids each, that is 340 kindergarten students! Last year, I simply didn't register her and HOPED that we would have more options this year.

In the Spring when the school held Kindergarten round-up, I didn't register Marissa. When the older kids finished up the school year in May, I realized that Summer would not last forever and I was going to HAVE to make a decision. While Marissa would no longer be one of the youngest kids in the class, my other concerns were all still valid. I needed to come up with a better option for schooling her. I looked into homeschool requirements for the state of Tennessee. We could register with an umbrella school and buy a curriculum and teach her at home. I looked into curriculum, most of it was EXPENSIVE. There were some free worksheet sites, but I didn't feel like they would enable me to adequately teach her everything she needs to learn. Private school was definitely NOT in our budget and there didn't seem to be any viable alternatives.

On July 8th, I saw an article in our local paper about the approval of FREE public virtual education in Tennessee. Union County, Tennessee was partnering with K12 to start Tennessee's first ever online public school and it was available to students in kindergarten through 8th grade anywhere in the state. After I read the article, I went to the TNVA website and read every page, then I went to the K12 website and read a ton more information. Later that night, I submitted applications for my 8th grader, 6th grader and Marissa. The next day, I scanned all their shot records, birth certificates, etc and submitted them to TNVA. It took 3 weeks of repeated faxing and phone calls but they were finally approved on July 20th. We had a little family party that night to celebrate.

Long time no see!

It's been over a year since my last blog post!  I wish I had a GOOD reason, but I really don't.  I got busy and got out of the habit of posting.  I miss blogging and am hoping to find room in my too busy life to get back into it.