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Topic: Need help making a decision cyber school or homeschool with my own curricu

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Subject: Need help making a decision cyber school or homeschool with my own curricu
Date Posted: 10/29/2008 11:54 AM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2005
Posts: 75
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I need to prepare a pro and con list for using cyber school .  The PA cyberschool provides Calvert curriculum.  Has any one used this.  Everything would be sent to me in one big box.  My husband likes this idea - instead of me collecting things here and there.  Right now I am struggling to find a place to set up homeschool items for the holiday.  I use my kitchen table and livingroom most days.  My son is four and will be five in december.  I am working on kindergarten skills.  I got the list of goals he needs to meet to complete kindergarten.  I use handouts form internet sites, games on line and board games.  I use the library alot.  I use alot of literature base lessons.   In PA - I have until he is  7 years old to inform the school of my intent of homeschooling.   With cyperschool PA- I will have to enroll him in school and then cyber school will send me the curriculum and assign me a monitor.    I won't have alot of paperwork and portfolios but at the same time Calvert may not work for him and I kind of feel controlled by the school.


Any insight would be appreciated.


Date Posted: 10/29/2008 3:15 PM ET
Member Since: 4/11/2007
Posts: 1,640
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I always prefer to put together my own items.  I think kindergarten is a wonderful age to explore and not use a complete boxed curriculum.  Have you looked into Charlotte Mason type learning?

I know PA can be a picky state in which to homeschool, I would try to find some local support to help you wade through the details when necessary. 

We have homeschooled in different area in our home.  Having baskets or crates to put the books in is very helpful.  We did that one year and simply put the books away in a kitchen cabinet  at the end of the day.




Date Posted: 10/29/2008 4:23 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2005
Posts: 75
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Thank you very much!  baskets and crates are a great idea.    I have looked at  charlotte mason.  I need to find more information on it and how to apply it to my son.  I have done alot of her nature aspects and copy work.



Thank you for the advice-  keep it coming.  I am one confused mom in PA.

Date Posted: 10/30/2008 10:20 AM ET
Member Since: 3/20/2007
Posts: 931
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I've posted info about virtual schools on this forum before.  Do a search for "virtual school" or "virtual academy".

Since you're in PA and you have so many virtual public school options, I would not only evaluate "independent HS'ing" vs. "virtual/cyber school", but also the different choices in those public schools.  For instance, I know many people who cannot stand the Calvert curriculum - it's textbooky, dry, and they don't use real literature - they use "readers".  If it matches your child's learning style, and your teaching style, then it may be a good fit.

But for excellence, look into the curricula used by the schools.  I highly recommend the K12, Inc. curriculum, used by Agora and PAVCS in PA.  It is much more exciting, in depth, and teaches to many learning styles.




I would attend the various schools' open house sessions IRL or online so you can compare them.  Look at their scope & sequences, find out what types of learners each one teaches to, etc.

Just remember, when you're making the decision, cyber schools are *public* schools.  Because of that, you have to answer to them as an at-home educator.  Some people like the oversight and rules, others can't stand them.  We've used K12 for six years as independent users and in our former state we had access to two K12 virtual schools.  I did not join, even though it would have saved me about $1500/year, because the rules are too confining.  However, that was one of the easiest states to HS in, and the one I'm in now is also.  PA is a lot stricter, and the differences between HS'ing and cyberschooling may not be as pronounced.

Be aware that *many* HS associations, and the HSLDA, are strongly against cyber schools.  Thankfully due to the number of cyberschoolers in PA, you might have it easier than those in other states.  But the anti-virtual/cyber charter people can get very rabid about their beliefs.  They may not allow you in their online, or offline, groups.

Again, just look up my input about virtual schools here.  While I didn't enroll my son in a virtual school in our former state, I did work for both schools as a parent rep of K12.  I helped get them off the ground.  Then I was offered a paid position the same week my DH rec'd his offer here.  I think they are *great* options - but not for all families.



Date Posted: 10/30/2008 7:22 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2006
Posts: 181
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Hi, Have you ever looked at Calvert in your own hands? I had all their grades 1-6 in my home for a while as a local HSer was having me try to sell it for her. I was very disappointed in what I saw after reading their ads for years. I can't tell you what is right for you but that was not how I wanted our HSing to be. I think you need to start thinking about what your ed philosophy is and get some ideas about what you'd like to do and what you'd like to avoid. Only after you have ideas on how you envision that you want learning to be should you start shopping for curriculum if you are trying to be thrify.

I feel that the free price of curriculum that comes with enrolling in a cyberschool is not a good enough reason *for our family* to have to be forced to use said curriculum. I worry a bit with virtual cyberschools as what if your child does not click with the curriculum? Do you then have to pay money out of your pocket to supplement with other kinds of work to get the learning tasks accomplished but pretend to be using Calvert? Or do you force your child through the full year of studies if the work is boring or tedious or if he is struggling? Is that type of learning experience in K grade with what he thinks is 'homeschooling' worth it? How does it work if the curriculum is not a good fit for your child? I don't know how that works.

We do not have a school room nor do I feel it is necessary *for my family*. For K grade with my older son,  some work was done at kitchen table then cleaned up and put away for all 3 meals and snacks. Crafts and art were done at the table. Read alouds for science, history, fiction and fun were done on the couch or in bed. I used baskets to hold books and we had books in every room. Back then I did not have the bookshelf system that I have now. I also had a separate basket for library books to keep them semi-organized so we didn't lose them in the house and incur late fines. We also did things outside the house like travel, go to museums, playdates, park days and so on.

Hope something here helps.

Subject: Homeschooling vs Private Home School
Date Posted: 10/31/2008 11:35 AM ET
Member Since: 10/7/2008
Posts: 7
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Hi my name is Aisha,

Im an Education Advisor, Instructional Designer, and homeschooling mom of three.

Ive homeschooled for the past thirteen years and have tried various methods of homeschooling from Charter schools, to online programs; such as K12, priavate and public as well.

The benefit of these programs , especially for beginners are the often FREE supplies, and resources, as well as support.

But you can also find great resources at  a local library, librarian, and local support groups.

In my opinion everyone has natural talents and abilites. We each have our preferences, stregths and weaknesses.

Using an out of the box, one size fits all solution doe snot benefit any one, in  the end it brings upon stress, lack of self esteem as well as a lack of desire to learn.

Ive always loved learning, but have always disliked school; simply because it wa snot taylored to my needs, objectives, goals, persoanlity and more.

I belive that home education provides that opportunity to provide that to our children.

You know your child the best. Better than any teacher, or curriuclum instructor.

You simply need to spend time with your child, make not of his or her persoanlity, preferences, strengths, and weaknesses and create a curriculum on your own.

Curriculum are just the tools and resoucres that you use to teach. I honestly beleive that shopping, reading, going to the library, and real life learning provide better opportunities of learning.

Math perhaps is one subject when you reading may need a text book.

But for Geometry for example, one can build things to learn this.

Have your young children help you count, ask them to tell you what time it is.

Have them help you with shopping and budgeting.

They feel they are helping you, this builds a bond and self esteem. It also shows them the importance and relevance of what they are learning.

If you love to read, you show this to your children and they want to read as well.

If not than encourage them to read on topics of interests.

For a while my daughter was not readig well, and hated it.

But she loves music. So I printed all the lyrics to songs she likes but does not know.

She is an excellent reader now.

Now we are getting her to write more.

Guess what she is starting to write? Poetry and her own song lyrics.

No one ever likes to do what they are inproficient in, it makes them feel bad about themself. But if we learn new skills based on the ones we love, it becomes enjoyable, challening, and self driven.

Education is a life long journey, it should not be somehting that if forced or dictated based on what a board says should be learned, and even that varies based on where you live.

I hope that this helps.

You can check out my blog at www.aishaladon.com. Its all about Education, homeshcooling, and the use of technology and the real world to teach.

Good luck,




Last Edited on: 10/31/08 11:40 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 10/31/2008 12:22 PM ET
Member Since: 4/11/2007
Posts: 1,640
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This is one of my favorite sites for nature study.  Barb posts a new outdoor challenge each week.  She using the "Handbook of Nature Study" as a reference source. 



Date Posted: 11/1/2008 12:28 PM ET
Member Since: 3/20/2007
Posts: 931
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Aisha, I respectfully disagree with your blanketed statements:

"Using an out of the box, one size fits all solution doe snot benefit any one, in  the end it brings upon stress, lack of self esteem as well as a lack of desire to learn.

You simply need to spend time with your child, make not of his or her persoanlity, preferences, strengths, and weaknesses and create a curriculum on your own."

I've used a "school in a box", K12, for six years.  It *greatly* benefits me as the parent-teacher, it decreases my stress, and it's not only built up my son's self-esteem, but also his desire to learn.  You cannot state something like this as fact.  This method works well for *many* families, mine included.  You need to state that as your opinion.

As for the second part, not everyone has the knowledge, time, or energy, to create their own curriculum.  I've moving into a more eclectic method this year and it takes a ton of research (read: time) and effort, even when using different products.  To create a curriculum of one's own, takes an enormous amount of time that not all families have.  I, for one, have a multiply-disabled daughter.  She takes great physical, mental, and emotional strength from me.  Due to that, I don't have the time to create a curriculum for her HS'ed brother.  And why should I?  I've found a curriculum with a *great* fit for him.  He has learned so much the past six years, is confident in what he knows, and wishes every child could have the opportunity to learn what he does.  I am not a reading expert, a mathematician, an artist or musician, a historian, or a scientist.  But I can take the content and tools that K12 gives me (and can be said for any curricula) and make learning a joy and an adventure in our home.

I just get really worried when veteran HS'ers basically tell new HS'ers, especially reluctant ones, that they *must* make their own curriculum and that it's the *best* option.  There are many, many ways to HS and the best one is always the one that fits *your* family.  I'm glad your method works for you, but please do not put down my methods and state that my son is stressed out, has no self-esteem, and doesn't want to learn.   He is quite the opposite.  Ask any adult who works with him - in, or outside of, the HS'ing community.



Date Posted: 11/2/2008 12:49 AM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2006
Posts: 2,157
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Paula - Thanks so much for the link.  I was just looking at my Handbook today, trying to decide how to use it.  Now I know!

Date Posted: 11/2/2008 8:09 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2005
Posts: 75
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Thank you so much for all the insight.  Everyone has made so many good suggestions.  It is up to me to make the decision and stand by it.  It is such a scary thing- afraid if you make the wrong one it will hurt him and my family.  In my heart I know he will stay with me and not go to the school.  I just have to decide how to teach him.  At the moment, I am leaning toward the no curricullum and just teach him his kindergarten skills with everyday life and play.  (he will be 5 in one month).   With alot of prayer and exploring the different curriculum info that was provided to me (Thank you everyone) I will make a concrete decision in the new year.


You have any opions or insight on what works for your family- keep it coming.  I have discovered so much from all of you that I would never know.


Thank you so much

alittle less confused in PA



Subject: how to home-school
Date Posted: 11/3/2008 12:53 AM ET
Member Since: 1/22/2008
Posts: 701
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I'm in PA also. I was very nervous when I first started home-schooling here because I'd come from states which had very little involvement of the state with our home-schooling.  My youngest is now in 10th grade and I've found the law not to really interfere with what I've wanted to teach.

I'm so glad you can see with your child so young that you are the best one to decide what's right for your child.  Each families situation is so different and what works for one family won't always be the same for another family.  I've been in a co-op for several years. Many of the families cyber-school and many don't.

I was a little confused when you said you have until he is  7 years old to inform the school of your intent of homeschooling.  Unless the law has changed you have until they're 8 to register.

I wish your family wonderful sucess in your home-schooling.