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.

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