How's it going with Georgia Cyber Academy?

Well...I guess it's going ok.  

We knew that it would be challenging.  Of course it would be more difficult to have someone else's schedule instead of our own.  There's some flexibility, but not much.  If a kid gets behind it is tough to catch up.

Let me backtrack a bit.

I have been homeschooling our kids since Ben, my 12 year old, was...well...forever.  My three youngest all went to a local preschool for ages 3 and 4.  This was a morning program (the same one I went to at their age) and allowed them some time for friends, and me time for either homeschooling older kids, or just other things.  

This is the first year that we have used a structured online curriculum.  I have used a couple of curriculum "planning" services over the years, but we always returned to a mix of curriculum chosen by mom, heavy on Catholic Heritage Curricula.  

Ben wants to go to high school.  Like brick and mortar public high school.  And he has some deficits in the areas of reading and writing sentences.  We knew we needed to work on these skills in order to have him ready for a classroom.  

We decided this year to go with Georgia Cyber Academy.  This is the homeschooling "arm" of the Georgia Public School System.  Supplies and books, except for those normally bought by parents, are sent in the mail.  There are no costs involved.  There are real teachers who teach online classes.  There are standardized tests.  There are grades.  There are assignments that have to be turned in on time.  This is all new to us.  In the past, if we needed to be gone somewhere, or if life was busy, we put off book work until we could get back to it.  And I have three very bright boys, who have had a lovely childhood, albeit too heavy on the screens.  (But isn't that just a problem for all of us....not just homeschooling kids?)

Ben has three hour-long online, live, interactive classes four mornings per week.  He also has online assignments through k12.com.  There is an internal "k-mail" system through which we can contact teachers and they can contact us.  I have to enter in the hours Ben spends on his schoolwork every day, and absences are counted just like in a brick and mortar school.  Too many of them and he would be kicked out.  

The big drawback of this program is that, just like in a normal school, parental involvement is key. I still write Ben's school work down on a lesson planner every week.  I do that through his monthly calendar from each teacher and looking back and making sure that he has completed online lessons with at least 80% on the quizzes.  

Ben does a pretty good job of staying on task in the mornings and getting his work done...at least the online stuff.  Anything that requires some extra, offline work, I have to get with him in the afternoons or evenings and press the issue to get it completed.  He would, of course, much rather be Skyping with a friend while playing Minecraft.  And he does "forget the time" when he's watching Youtube while eating his lunch.

I am also utilizing my husband more this year than I have in the past.  With my working more, Mac's help has been essential in making sure that Ben gets everything done.  Often Ben even responds to Mac better.  Perhaps it is because Mac is a teacher and so can get into teacher mode.  Ben then seems to take his correction better than mine.  Maybe I'm just bad at gentle correction.

If there's one thing that I would tell parents about Georgia Cyber...it's to STAY ON TOP OF THINGS.  Use the weekends.  Sit down with your kid on Fridays and make sure you and he/she understand what is coming up the next week.  Sit in on classes.  I have done this a few times to make sure that Ben was participating.  Make sure you understand what is required and write to teachers.  I have found Ben's homeroom teacher to be very responsive.  And because we actually know a Cyber teacher personally, I  know that seeing parents who are involved means a lot to them.  

So far so good.  We're sticking with it.