by Leslie Fobbs
Each day lots of parents are waking up to the truth of public education. They are making the decision to homeschool their children instead. Unfortunately, there seems to be a common path of uncertainty and confusion that most parents take, myself included.
You know that you have to get your child out of their current environment for whatever reason (bullying, falling behind, too far ahead, mistreatment by staff, etc.). You are desperate to homeschool but are unsure of what to do and definitely not confident you can do it alone. So you try to find something that looks like what you just left.
I’ve only been homeschooling my son for a year and a half. By no means am I an expert. Yet, there are some things I wish I could share with parents new to homeschooling, or at least considering the switch.
The first two are simple...
You will stumble at first, everybody does. That is because it takes time to figure out your child’s learning style, your teaching style, and their optimal learning times. There is no one size fits all. You can take advice from any family, but not all of it will apply to you and yours. So take it easy on yourself for the first couple months until you get the hang of it. My homeschooling hero once told me, "with the best of intentions and the best effort, you’re not going to break your kid."
You can’t recreate traditional school, and you shouldn’t want to. That is because school is designed to mimic an adult working day. You will find out that learning doesn’t have to span a full 8-hour day. It really only takes 2-4 hours and your student doesn’t need to sit at a desk the whole time. Think about it… Are the kids actually learning for more than that in the traditional setting? I don’t think so.
And that leads me to my third piece of advice which is most important and will take a little more time to unpack. So listen up newbies!
You don’t need an Online Virtual Charter School (OVCS). You are smart enough and fully capable of educating your child(ren) at home without one.
One thing that really burns my biscuit is reading about parents that take this route only to find out it’s a nightmare. I found out the hard way and I wish somebody would have told me. Actually, a few people did try to warn me and I convinced myself it would work for us. Ha!
So here’s the scoop on OVCSs:
But wait! First, a disclaimer. My words are based on my experiences at LAVCA, affiliated with K12 inc., in the state of Louisiana. I have found most families I've come in contact with to have had similar experiences but I recognize that it does work for some people. This is not an attack on the school, the company, and least not, the teachers or community. I’m just sharing my experience in hopes that others will fully understand what is involved before signing up.
Ok, here we go.
Technically, enrolling in an OVCS is NOT homeschooling beyond the fact that you are logging in at home.
Your child is still subject to everything that makes up public school and more, as I’ve listed below.
To sum up my experience, I felt foolish thinking my son and I would have some flexibility in our day and week. I thought with him still involved in a class with other students and being taught by professional teachers he could continue on like he had at his previous school. In reality, we were lonely, stressed out, and exhausted. I started to feel like my child had to be chained to his desk with me standing over him yelling to get it all done. Most of all, he was not retaining anything.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Listen to the words of Linda Rees McCoy. She is a passionate advocate for homeschooling parents in the state of Louisiana and has listened to the stories of many families on this topic. When I asked for her thoughts, this is what she had to say:
“[OVCSs] are the Trojan horse of the public school system into the lives of real homeschoolers. They bribe you with "free stuff" then force you to comply with their agenda, their curriculum, their testing, their data mining, and they usually end up being way more than you bargained for in terms of time and intensity. I think their hope is to overwhelm the child and the parent so that they'll go back to public school, reinforcing their brainwashing of people that they're not equipped to educate their own children, that they're "not smart enough" or "not qualified" and therefore dumbing down the kids even more while demoralizing them so that they think they have to return to public schools. Many of the parents I've communicated with do not even know that virtual onlines are NOT homeschooling. Legally, the child is still a student in a public school. I hope to help more of them realize that real homeschooling looks nothing whatsoever like the restrictive and oppressive virtual charter online schools.”
Now that the negative stuff is out there, let’s talk about why you CAN succeed at homeschooling without an OVCS.
You know your child best, right? You know exactly who they are and what they need. And if you don’t know, it only takes a few months of observation and trial and error to figure out how to best educate them. Refer to my first piece of advice above, please.
Your child loves and wants YOU. They may not always show it once they get older, but you are their world. In their eyes, you really can’t mess this up.
You will be more invested in their success. No teacher is ever going to care and pour as much into your child as you will. Why not give them the most nourishing experience possible before sending them out into the world?
You know more than you think! The government wants you to believe that you are incompetent and that a certified expert is required. Just your life experience alone qualifies you to teach your child. The rest can be discovered along the way by you and your child together.
In spite of what you think, the path to success we are fed by society is not the only one. You can create an educational experience at home that parallels and even exceeds that of public school. Many homeschooled kids come out more prepared for college and life than their peers. Not to mention, colleges are now accommodating them.
Homeschooling is going mainstream. There are so many resources out there that this really is the best time to jump in. There’s physical curricula you can order, online versions that are free, homeschooling co-op groups, and plenty of other experienced families to guide you along the way. Not to mention, you can also join us in the hackschooling revolution. Find us here on FB.
You can do this!
So if you’re thinking about an Online Virtual Charter School, I hope I’ve helped in painting a real picture of what it may be like for you and your child. I'm actually grateful I went through it so I could know what real homeschooling is and what it is not. You don't have to waste time though.
If you’re already enrolled and experiencing exactly what I’m talking about, don’t hesitate to withdraw. The process is not as difficult as you think, and your child will thank you!
Let’s continue the conversation in the comments. Do you have a story to share about your experience with an Online Virtual Charter School?