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Looking Into Homeschool or Virtual School For Your Elementary Student?
Tips On Adjusting to Virtual School – For An Elementary Student
Are you looking into keeping your kids at home this fall and possibly do homeschool or virtual school?
In this post I will share our experience, starting out with virtual school at home with a 1st grader. I share how we adjusted from attending a physical school to a virtual school for an elementary student. My daughter started attending virtual charter school funded by the state after Covid-19 came to our area in March 2020.
My daughter is 7 and in 1st grade. She loves school and is a little social butterfly that thrives being around people.
As you all know, all over the World, we have had to all deal with major life changes in the last few months.
Schools in our area shut down mid March due to the Carona-19 virus. We live in Northeast Pennsylvania, about 2 hours outside of New York City.
Before the quarantine happened, my husband and I actually talked about homeschooling or doing a virtual charter school because of all the crazy school violence and bullying that has happened the last couple years all over the country.
We hated sending her off to be with strangers all day in a school that could end up on the news or something with a tragedy. The high school by us has already had all types of bomb threats and kids who need help would send in threatening letters or calls to school and such.
Not only that but also the bus was also an issue. No seat belts on our school buses and seeing recent bus accidents and people hitting children with their cars at bus stops. Horrific stories would keep popping up and making me want to pull her put of school more and more.
We actually witnessed a horrifying bus experience. My daughters’ bus driver closed the door on a little kindergartener and and proceeded to drive forwards and drag him. The little boys twin and him were traumatized by the ordeal needing therapy. At least he survived! So scary!
That could be a whole separate post!
Then this whole quarentine happened and we all were forced to keep our kids home and learn to be homeschooling parents.
This was the catalyst that made us what to finally take the plunge as just start her up in a virtual school. First I looked up homeschooling. I didn’t know where to start and it all seemed so complicated and intimidating.
My younger sister went to an online charter school when she was in High school and she liked it. I thought we’ll maybe they have good programs for younger kids.
Turns out they did! A lot to choose from. We ended up going with PA Virtual Charter School & K12.
It’s state funded and they supply us with all the materials needed to homeschool our daughter, along with lesson plans.
Materials they provided:
- Art supplies
- Math supplies/books
- History supplies/books
- Language arts materials
- Story books
- Portion of our Internet bill
Our Virtual Charter School Schedule For Our 1st Grader
My daughter really loved having a schedule and knowing what to expect and when. It made it easier to get her to cooperate during class time.
Key Tips On Having a Smooth School Day At Home
1.) Allow time for breaks-
Really pay attention to how your child’s engagement is going through the day. When your child seems like they are getting bored or antsy, take a quick break with the intention to return back once you had a break.
2.) Don’t stay too rigid with your school schedule-
Life happens and things come up. Don’t stress about your schedule needing to change when things unexpected happen. Somedays you will be able to catch up on things you couldn’t get to the day before.
3.) Use everyday experiences as learning experiences-
Different everyday experiences can count for different school time. Baking can be used as a science and math depending how you structure it. Calculating measurements and watching what happens to ingredients when heat is applied.
4.) Always allow time for outdoor exercise.
When you notice your child is getting antsy and needs a break, it’s a great idea to take an activity outside and let them burn off some steam. Some of the classes we would take outside and finish the lesson. One nice perk of teaching at home. We can take learning anywhere we go.
5.) Let them make choices when possible.
Sometimes your child won’t be super into learning. With the virtual school we chose and state requirements, we need to fit in at least 5 hours of lessons each day. When your child doesn’t want to do school, it can help to let them choose something on the schedule that they want to work on first. This helps them get their mindset right and get into the mood of doing school work since they get a say and can choose something they want to work on.
We use our schedule as a guideline, but sometimes we break away from the order of the classes and do whichever ones she wants to. It helps her feel like she’s taking control of your school schedule while still getting her to do her school work you want to her do.
Tips On Staying Organized While Attending Virtual School or Homeschooling
We have a bookshelf we use to keep all my daughters school supplies and books separated and organized according to class subject.
This really helped us keep track all of her school activity books, assignment books, story books and other support materials. It was a little overwhelming getting so much material all at once. Having a school area and a home for all her school supplies is a must. It has made life so much less stressful and easy to find things for her lessons.
After sorting and organizing each shelf for each subject, we noticed it really helps us have a smooth school day. We know where each item should be and find items and put things away easily.
My daughter appreciates it and it helps her form good habits of taking care of her books and school materials.
They gave us two options when we first signed up for our virtual charter school.
We could choose from Asynchronous (without live classes) or Synchronous (live classes) classes.
We ended up choosing sync classes because we wanted to extra guidance through the school work and having the chance to participate in a live scheduled class everyday.
We still have async school work to do without the live classes but it’s structured and outlined by the teacher.
When you are enrolled in strictly async classes, the teacher doesn’t have live classes and doesn’t give you a schedule of when to do the lessons. It gives you a lot of flexibility but it’s all up to you to plan the lessons and such.
I haven’t decided if we still stick with sync classes for next year or not. Sometimes I wish we could create a more flexible schedule and didn’t have so many live classes during the day, (2-3 live classes a day about 45min to an 1 hr long.)
(Update: we are choosing asynchronous classes this fall year. We want the flexibility to structure the lessons when we want while still maintaining 5 hours of school work a day.)
So far my daughter has been giving us a difficult time with sitting still during the class time for too long. She wants lots of breaks during the day. Sitting still at a computer for young kids is difficult.
Keeping their attention and keeping it interesting is sometimes a challenge. I try to break up the day and pay close attention to her involvement when we do class work together for our Async time together.
We use all opportunities around the house and going outside as learning experiences. Some activities are actually counted as class time if it’s along the lines with our lesson plans.
With all that is going on around us it makes it difficult to choose the best things for our kids.
I wanted to remove as much stress as I could and help her learn as best as she can during these critical years of early learning.
Our kids are little sponges who thrive on routine and enriching activities.
If you get anything from this post please let it be this; dont be afraid to take your child’s education in your own hands.
Education starts at home.
You have been their teacher since the day they were born. You can do this! Online virtual school or homeschool is basically just following school lesson plans/ or homeschool lesson plan and staying consistent. Look for a program that works for you and your family.
I don’t have the homeschool experience since we just started virtual school this year. I looked into bothMake everyday an adventure and turn all experiences into learning opportunities.
Becoming involved with my daughters learning process has really helped me grow as a parent. I truly love watching and helping her figure things out and learn new things.
It brings excitement into my own life by revisiting and learning things along with her. Many things I have forgotten about from my early school days and it’s like I’m learning it for the first time again. They have lesson plans that structure how the lessons go and you just follow along as you teach it to your child.
If you want to give it a try and keep your kids close and safe at home, give homeschool or virtual school a try. You won’t regret spending more time with your kids when they are all grown up.
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You can do it! If you have questions please don’t hesitate to contact me. I will do my best to help however I can.