The Home School Year is Beginning

And I’m already fed up with the virtual charter school we use.


We were supposed to start school this week (but we haven’t yet).  I think it is ridiculously early to start school, and planned to start next Wednesday, when the oldest two start school in the local schools.  I may do a few lessons with Tank Boy today, however; because he is now in kindergarten and he’s so excited he can’t stand it.

Yesterday, as I was sorting through our school cupboards, throwing stuff out, packing stuff up, unpacking the new supplies and rearranging and tidying up in general, he kept asking, “Can we do some school now?  Can we do some school now?  How about now?  Can we do some school NOW???”  I figure I owe the kid some school.

As I was packing and unpacking and sorting and all of that, I noticed Midge and Tank Boy each sitting in a separate cardboard box, reading comic books.  It was one of those moments when I knew I should go grab the camera, but didn’t.  They were so intent, side by side in their shipping boxes, reading about the exploits of various important figures in the Clone Wars.  Thank goodness for little people who can read.  It helped me accomplish what I needed to get done.

But none of that is why I’m fed up with the virtual charter school.  I know I’ve said it before, and I don’t think this year is going to change anything:  I wish I could dump the charter and just buy the curriculum outright.  But there is that little issue of it’s expensive which is holding me back.

Incidentally, someone (Char?  I think?) asked why we don’t send the older girls to private school given my feelings about government schools.  There are a few reasons, but the most compelling would be: a). there aren’t a lot of private schools in the boonies and I don’t want to have to pack up five kids every morning and afternoon to shuttle two of them back and forth; and B). (I capped it because it is more compelling) We have five kids, so private school is a little out of the budget.  Oh, and C). We’re only mostly putting them into school so that they can make friends who live relatively near by (because nobody lives actually near by), and taking them to a private school a few towns away would most likely defeat that purpose.

Anyhoo . . . what is currently curling my toes is this:  the virtual charter has introduced a new course (every freaking year with the new hoops of one variety or another to jump through) called Introduction to Online Learning.  Now, I can see how this would be very, very  helpful for parents who are brand new to the virtual charter and how it works, especially as it has become increasingly convoluted over the years.  However?  We have been with this school for six years (beginning our seventh right now).  The school has only existed for seven years (beginning its eighth).  I’ve pretty much mastered the system, yet I seem to be required to do this ten lesson course and log my attendance for it in Tank Boy’s attendance log.

Or is he supposed to be doing it with me and it’s his attendance I’m supposed to be logging?  I have no idea, but it seems highly unlikely given the drool-down-my-chin, bore-me-to-death-with-tedium way these lessons are put together.  Not kindergarten friendly learning, is what I’m saying.

In addition!  The school and its teachers (I am merely a learning coach) are just super duper, Vaseline-on-the-teeth smiley because this year, this year, they are going to focus more on actual on-line classroom sessions between teachers and students.  Yes, the teachers are going to be teaching more!  Yay!!!

Only?  Not.  Because?  If I really wanted to be handing my kids over to other teachers right now? I’d send them to school.   I already told Tank Boy and Midge’s teacher this very thing.

Yes, I am One Of Those parents.

I told her, very nicely, that past experience with the online learning sessions has proven that they are mostly a gigantic waste of my children’s instructional time, and the kids generally sit in front of the computer doing other lessons while half listening to the classroom sessions that teach them mostly nothing.  I explained that both Tank Boy and Midge can read way above their grade level (Tank Boy’s reading ability is truly shocking given the fact he didn’t seem to be able to read more than simple, three letter words until a week or two ago) and their time would be better spent working at their level (which is totally supposed to be the big draw to this at-home learning stuff) than sitting in some online class with kids who are still learning what the A says.

And please don’t misunderstand, I am in no way belittling or criticizing the kindergarten kids who are still learning the basics of phonics, I’m just saying that isn’t where my kids are, so for the love of Pete!  Don’t make them participate in all this “increased instructional time.”

The teacher was looking through Midge’s course work as we were talking and astutely noted that Midge is doing second grade math this year.

“Oh, I see she is doing Math 2.  It really wouldn’t make any sense for her to participate in my math sessions since I teach kindergarten and first grade.  Because, then what do I do if I have kids in my class who are struggling with first grade math, and kids like your daughter who are doing second grade math?  Just shoot for the middle?  You might as well have your kid in regular public school at that rate.”

Hmmm . . . yes, I believe that is my point.  So at least I think the teacher and I are going to get along smashingly.

She is checking in to whether or not this new, exciting, extra-large helping of teacher time is required or, you know, just offered.  Please, God, let it not be required, or I will have to go sell my plasma so I can finally just buy the curriculum.  And I don’t think there is anything special about my plasma, so I’ll have to sell a lot of it (unlike a cousin of mine who apparently has extra-special plasma and made lots of money for college off of it – or something like that).

So last night, as I was clicking through some of the Introduction to Online Learning crap material just so I could get to the end and mark the lessons complete (I am not logging any attendance time for it however – I am such a rebel), I told McH that, should he get a promotion with a decent raise any time soon (somebody WAY high up the food chain recently referred to him as a Rock Star, so it’s possible), and should his consulting contract also be renewed at the end of the year, the Annoying Virtual Academy (which I actually, truly loved the first few years) is getting the boot and I am buying the curriculum booty.

He didn’t say it, but I know somewhere in the back of his mind he was thinking, “Only if I get one of those new Camaros.”

So the front of my mind telepathically shot back the message:  “Yeah, right.”

But the back of his mind just kept saying, “Camaro . . . Camaro . . . MMmmm . . . Camaro.”

And George, if you’re out there, even Tewt the Newt doesn’t think any raise will be that good.

11 thoughts on “The Home School Year is Beginning

  1. Matt

    Just keep telling yourself that a 6-speed manual with over 400 horsepower is a small price to pay to get rid of the Online School.


  2. While I was much nicer with my teacher (something along the lines of “Uh, we can TRY that…), she told me that the sessions aren’t actually REQUIRED, just that our conference calls will be much shorter if the kids are attending. Which is still stupid, since they will be wasting an hour every week instead of an hour every month. I’ll probably take the passive aggressive route and just not attend for the most part because it does totally distract from instruction time.


  3. can I just say ditto?

    So much of the online academy distracts from learning time. I get fed up often, but our homeschooling budget right now is zero. In another 2-3 years we might be able to swing it, right now it isn’t even a remote possibility. Couple that with no private schools within a 45 minute one-way drive and serious (oh how I wish it was just an obsession with football) issues with our local gov’t schools and I feel trapped. Puts all the online fluff and busy work in perspective.

    Online class instruction does not have me excited. My kids have excelled at what we have done the last three years, please do not screw it up is all I am asking. We often switch in and out of a block schedule, take days off at a time to go learn hands on. We usually are finished with school around the end of April. Plain and simple we do not fit the traditional school schedule and we like and excell in the pattern we are in. Liz is in second grade doing all third grade work. It’s not that she is an advanced learner, she just did the kidnergarten work when Jane did and has kept up, no problems, every since. She still has a second grade teacher, and odd ball second grade things that she does. I am hoping that by middle school they realize it is okay to have her “skip” a grade, though technically she has done all the required years just a half-year early.

    We won’t be doing to online classes. We did a couple last year and it just wasn’t worth the time it took away from our schedule. Goodness knows it’s hard to juggle it all, don’t waste my time. I plan on telling them we follow a non-traditional schedule and that I only school in the evening hours if that helps get the point across that I will not be attendning weekly classes. I figure worst case scenario they kick me out and we wing it for the rest of the year and sell organs to buy a curriculum next year. Just kidding…mostly.

    I feel like this is all over the place, but I wrote while administering a spelling test. Sorry for the randomness and mis-spelled words, but if I do not send it now it will only get worse.


  4. I have never homeschooled, but I read the blogs of others who do, and can I just say…you all amaze me! Good luck with putting your two oldest in Middle school and with teaching your other children. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders. It’s all going to work out fine.


  5. I think I have a bunch of questions but mostly what I want to know is what are the books TB is using for K this year? Our VAs don’t start until 3rd grade (and only go up through 8th) and I’m totally curious what a K VA looks like! And also what grades are your other kids in?

    Can you find the same books used online and do it yourself that way? When we dumped the VA last year we used the same books we were already using (most of which I loved – we talked about math but I stomached through with math until the end too). I spent almost nothing buying them used and the added flexibility was so amazing! There were a few things we couldn’t replicate – the computer obviously, the art and science supplies and anything taught online. but it was a good trade for us.

    As to the topic of your actual post (sorry!!): you can probably imagine the annoyed venting posts that such a course would prompt for me! I hate hate hate stupid busywork. I don’t understand why families with experience would not get an exemption from that course for new students from the same family! That’s sooo silly.

    I actually thought (and I hope this holds true for you) that the VA was far more intrusive and tedious than PS turned out to be. It was like the worst of both worlds for us. (and yet I still considered it this year, strongly, and would have done it if all 3 of my kids could have participated). Hopefully you won’t be hit from both ends from the stupid red tape.


  6. Christina

    The whole logging time and whatnot is what scared me off of the WA virtual academy when I decided to homeschool K. What’s the point of homeschooling if you still have to keep gov’t school hours and have gov’t teachers boring your kids to death? Hope your Husband gets that raise. And I heard the Cameroes are like super impossible to actually get, so that should help your argument a bit. 🙂


  7. There is a Black 2SS Camaro that is loaded at a dealership only 10 miles from the house. I have thought about stopping in several times and taking a closer look at it. Maybe even bringing it home but I enjoy being married so I haven’t yet…



  8. As the daughter/sister/niece of bad ass government school teachers this homeschooling thing is a HUGE and FASCINATING MYSTERY! I started reciting your post on school supplies (because I had no! idea!) to my mom and she was all “I KNOW!” so I am hopeful you would get along, despite government school position etc. My plan is just to have my parents go undercover in my hoped-for school (which, right now, is actually a Catholic school, should we have the funds) and make sure all the teachers are Up To Par. But I am terrified, very terrified. What if I have to homeschool? I don’t think I can hack it. I don’t remember a single thing about fractions and I never successfully balanced a chemical equation and I haven’t the SLIGHTEST IDEA how to teach someone to READ. Oh, and now I’m starting to panic about my future illiterate children and their crummy teachers and where are my smelling salts?


  9. As you know I am a government school teacher- this is my 10th year and I have just one thing to say…er…ask- can we move in so you can be Aiden’s teacher?


  10. metaphase

    Well, this is good information for my future. I’ve considered home schooling the kids (luckily I have a year or two to decide) but I didn’t know about the expense. I looked at our private schools in the area and understand how it would be hard to send 5 to private schools. The administrator joyfully told me how they give a 2nd child discount- uh, $250 off the almost $5000/year. Excuse me if I don’t jump for joy with you, ma’am.
    I’ve given thought to teaching in a private school just so I could send my kids there.
    I just don’t know how you get your kids to look at you and listen as you give them lessons for a couple of hours. Ava won’t even let me help her trace! She tells me she can do it and then begins writing all over the page. We both end up frustrated.


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