What I really want the title to be, but it’s far too long is, “Why I Recommend a Virtual School, at Least for the First Year, and Especially if You’re Short on Time.” See? Way too long. Still, as I mentioned in my post about the pros and cons of a virtual school, we started with a virtual school for two years, and for the last two years we’ve been doing traditional homeschooling. In the end, I prefer traditional homeschooling, but for people who are ready to jump in to homeschooling their kids and are unsure of themselves in terms of creating curriculum (or rather, finding curriculum), virtual school is a great way to start.
When you’re short on time
I got laid off in April of Care Bear’s 3rd grade year. I was looking for work, but The Great Recession took its toll on management positions in particular. I probably could have looked harder, but I had this gut feeling that I should be doing something else. Long story short, we finally decided to homeschool and then got the green light from Care Bear’s dad in either late July or early August.
If you’ve had less than six months to look at what curriculum options are out there and make some decisions on some core subjects, then I would suggest using a virtual school, at least for the first semester if not the first year. I know people who have started doing traditional homeschooling right away, even without preparation time, so it can be done. At least for myself, I like to feel relatively certain about my curriculum choices and not feel like I’m in a big rush to just find something to fill our time. Given that, that’s why I recommend a virtual school.
When you want to homeschool, but you don’t know how
You hear all the talk about homeschooling methods, learning styles, and various ways of scheduling and it makes your head spin. If the kids are young enough, you can normally just figure it out as you go, but once they are in middle school, the room for trial and error narrows. By high school, hopefully the core work is ironed out, plus I tend to think the options for homeschool styles narrows also. I could be wrong, but I don’t see unit studies working for high school. Anyway, if you’re unsure exactly how it’s all going to work, let the virtual school pick out the curriculum for you and you’ll learn along the way what works for you and what doesn’t, while still following a set plan where, as long as you follow their instructions, you should make progress.
You’re worried about your consistency and organization
I hear this a lot. “I’m too inconsistent” or “I’m not organized enough.” I could argue that taking the kids to school requires a lot more organization and consistency than homeschooling, but most people don’t believe me. So, let the school take care of a piece of it, and you can take care of the rest. In most virtual schools I’ve heard of (I can think of just one exception), the lesson plans are online. As long as the home is organized enough that your child can find their school books (if they go to school they need to do this also), then you’re organized enough for a virtual school.
Get through Mom’s learning curve
Mom (or whoever is the main adult in the homeschool) will need time to adjust to the new normal also. When will Mom go grocery shopping? What about cleaning? Running errands? Again, when someone else is taking care of the lesson planning and supply purchasing, it can leave more time for mom. Especially if the kids are older, they can stay home and work on school while Mom runs some errands. A virtual school does free up a lot of time for mom because it aims for the kids to be pretty darn close to completely independent by the time they start high school.
As I said in my pros and cons post, I still prefer traditional homeschooling, but I think a virtual school is a great way to get started in the homeschooling journey, and take some weight of Mom’s shoulders until things become more routine.
Would you recommend using a virtual school? Why or why not?