If you’ve just made the decision to virtual school for the 2013-2014 school year, you may be feeling overwhelmed by all of the information available to you. It sounded like a piece of cake. The school sends you the curriculum, the lessons, and the materials. You even have a teacher taking care of your child. Easy, right?
Then your boxes…and boxes…and boxes of curriculum and materials arrived. You realized that in most cases, the teacher’s manuals are thicker than the ones provided for the students. And the sheer amount of work…can a child really go through all of that in a year?
Plus, what about the extras? You wanted to homeschool so you could spend more time teaching your child the things that you want them to learn…or perhaps you just know that they’re going to need some extra incentive, either advanced incentive to keep them engaged, or extra help to keep them caught up. Maybe you know full well that your child will only engage in curriculum if there are things to do off of the computer, and you’re wondering how to make that happen.
The good news is, from the time your curriculum arrives, you still have several weeks to prepare. The bad news is, it’s beginning to look like you’re never going to get there.
Luckily, you have time; and with a little bit of effort, you can use the materials available to you to become comfortable with the idea of virtual schooling before you have to jump right in.
Review the learning coach videos. These are expected of each and every learning coach before the beginning of every year. They’re short, easy videos that are easy to understand and give you guidelines for how you can go about your day. There are even suggestions for families with younger children at home, families with multiple children enrolled in a virtual school, and families with special concerns. The videos will also explain what is expected of you as a learning coach.
Familiarize yourself with the system. Once you’re accepted, you should have access to at least part of the Online Learning System (OLS). Look it over. Learn how to put in attendance, how to check your Kmail (which only works when it feels like, and should not be checked during high-traffic times unless you have an immense amount of patience. The initial system was not designed to handle the kind of traffic it ultimately received, and the programmers are still playing catch-up.
Review the materials. This doesn’t mean that you have to look at them all right now, but do know what your child is going to be working with. Look over the lists of things that they’re going to need. Know when you’re going to need to go the library to check out another book. If your child is in third grade or above, look at the books that they can select from to complete their novel study units, and give some thought to which books will be appropriate for your child. Decide whether you will let them choose a novel based on their personal preferences (within reasonable grade and reading level) or select for them based on what you think they need to read.
Look over their lessons. Have a reasonable idea of when they will need to complete each one. Find the semester point in each subject and know that you really need to be to that point by Christmas. Decide how much work your child will need to accomplish each week in order to reach that point.
Put together a schedule. If you’re new to homeschooling in general, you may not know whether or not your child will function well on a given schedule. However, you will already know whether your child is an early bird or a night owl. If he works best first thing in the morning, that will be the best time to start your lessons. If she learns best after lunch, you may want to put it off until then. However, keep in mind that this will have to be flexible, and learning times will need to include regular class connect sessions and conferences with your child’s teacher.
As you’re writing your schedule, be sure to include “extras” that you’d like to include in your day. Perhaps you want to attend the monthly homeschooling classes at the aquarium, the weekly ones at the zoo, or BHEA weekly classes. All of these are possible, but they need to be written into your schedule from the beginning. Keep in mind that field trip days are days when not as much schoolwork will be completed, and K12 does require eighty percent completion of all subjects (specifically English and math related subjects) in order for your child to be able to progress to the next year. Also keep in mind, however, the fact that day after day in your house, with no distractions and no other company, will quickly become boring for everyone. Plan at least weekly activities for yourself and your kids. If financial constraints are a problem, look for free outings: the library and the park are always available!
Gather materials. Take advantage of back-to-school sales. They may be the best chance you have all year to gather needed materials.
Gather resources. Check out used bookstores, Amazon.com, and the library for books that your child might need throughout the year. Know who to call if you have problems. Make sure, when your materials box arrives, that you actually do have all of your materials. Be prepared for the school year ahead.