The First Step Down the Homeschooling Road

by Caroline on June 5, 2012

Bubbles taking notes for science, homeschool.

To homeschool virtually, or to homeschool traditionally. That is the question.

The school year is over, and I’ve been taking a look at how our first year of homeschooling went. The girls attended a public virtual homeschool, rather than us doing traditional homeschooling. So it’s somewhere in between traditional classroom education and homeschooling.

Why did I choose virtual homeschooling? Well, the easy answer is that my kids’ charter school closed and I didn’t want to enroll them in a traditional public school. Even if the charter school hadn’t closed, however, we probably wouldn’t have stayed there; the learning environment was simply too distracting for two kids with ADHD. The good thing about our virtual school is that it is run by people with a lot of experience working with children with physical and learning disabilities.

As is the case with most kids with ADHD, my girls love playing video games, watching TV, and being on the computer. These “activities” give their brains the stimulation they crave, which is why they can do them for hours on end, whereas real activities can’t keep their attention. So, with 90% of their curriculum being delivered by (usually) engaging computer programs, they did a pretty good job of staying with their work and actually learned something this year.

However, not everything about the virtual school was desirable, or a good fit for us. First and foremost, I can’t choose the curriculum. There are subjects and projects that I’d like to do, but they have to be done on top of what’s required for school and in addition to all of the homework M-bug does for her educational therapy. Second, although I oversee their work, I don’t really know what they’re working on the way I would if we were doing homeschool the traditional way. And honestly, I’m not sure their teachers can or are able to keep up with it either. Last December I looked at Bubbles’ social studies, which she’d been getting good grades on, and noticed that she was still working on first quarter assignments! I wasn’t impressed.

Finally, while the girls love their work being done on the computer, I don’t think it’s always the best way for them to get the information. Sometimes, yes. It keeps their attention, and this is important for kids with ADHD. But I think something more hands on would be better for math, and that actually talking through difficult concepts (past participles, anyone?) would be better than just trying to learn by reading.

Making math fun with the Math Place Value Game

M-bug using math rods to learn place value.

Last weekend my church was host to our state’s homeschool convention, and as in the past, I was the media tech assigned to work it. I got to listen to the speakers, and when I had a few minutes, to wander the vendor hall, where all of the curriculum companies were selling their wares. It’s hard not to drool in that vendor hall — there’s so much fun stuff! Before the weekend was over, I had purchased curriculum from Math-U-See, which uses the math rods that M-bug already uses for therapy as a major component. Both girls are behind in math, and although Bubbles is going into 6th grade, I don’t think she has a good grasp of division, not to mention fractions. So we’re working backward a bit, and I’m going to try to get them caught up by working on fundamentals on the side.

Is this the first step toward traditional homeschooling? I don’t know. We have too many changes coming down the pipe to make any big changes for next school year. As I’ve said before, I always said I’d never homeschool, and homeschooling virtually was a compromise that I could handle because I’m not actually having to “teach,” which would be no small feat with girls who have a mix of ADHD, PDD-NOS, and other learning disabilities. But homeschooling for real? I’m not sure. Being more in control of our schedule, and how much work they have to do each day, would be helpful with the amount of therapy we’re looking at for M-bug next year. But it’s a scary proposition. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.


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