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!