Who should do a virtual public school?

We lasted in a virtual public school, our state’s first, for only eight weeks. It’s now been about eight weeks since our decision to quit, and I still get emails from people asking me why we joined, why we quit, and whether or not they should try it.


The “why” anyone does anything is a pretty personal question, but I’ve thought a lot about this and thought I’d pull together some questions that may be helpful to ask yourself before you sign up for a state-sponsored virtual public school.

* Are you ok with having someone else telling you what to do?

At first, I liked having a teacher oversee our progress thinking it’d feel like having a safety net below us. In short time, though, I felt like I was constantly being watched, constantly being reminded how much more progress we needed to make. I realized that after over four years of DIY homeschooling, the oversight of an outside teacher rubbed me the wrong way–though I think some people would appreciate the accountability this forces on them.

* How many kids are you homeschooling?

This was a biggie for us. If your kids are young, I think MAVA (Massachusetts Virtual Academy) is very, very time consuming for the teaching parent. Between the workload of my two girls who were in the program, it was really hard on my youngest son who was not enrolled. I felt like I told him, “Go play—I’ll be there in a minute!” about a hundred times a day. It wasn’t fair to him.

* Can your enrolled student/students work independently?

When I published my “why are my kids crying every day?” post to the MAVA message board, I had one woman tell me that things were going wonderfully for her. Turns out, her daughter was in 8th grade and could do almost all of her work on her own. If you have a very dedicated, task-oriented, independent learner, they may really enjoy a virtual school.

* Has your child been in public school before?

The K12 workload (the curriculum used by MAVA) is pretty intense and can take up the majority of the day to complete regularly. A child who has come out of a full-day school environment may not be as affected by this. For my kids who were used to lots of unstructured time, field trips and classes with friends, this longer school day was a real drag.

* Do you want a boxed, soup-to-nuts curriculum? Really?

In hindsight, this is another reason we should never, ever have joined MAVA. The curriculum we have used over the years has always been pieced together to take advantage of each child’s learning style and ability. Finding ourselves locked into a single curriculum—even one as strong as K12—would not have suited us in the long run.

I realize eight weeks isn’t really long enough to give to a new situation, but I don’t regret our decision at all.

Have you considered a virtual public school, or are you enrolled in one? Do you agree with the above or am I missing something?

Comments

  1. JenniferJ says:

    I found you through Christine Moers. We live in PA and tried the Cyber route after years of homeschooling. Like you, we only lasted a few weeks. My 12yo son said at the time "We learn more in less time when we do it ourselves, so why are we doing Cyber?" The amount of paperwork was daunting and an unnecessary distraction. My kids have tried public, private, cyber and homeschooling….and they all prefer homeschooling. JMHO ;)

  2. Cara says:

    Thanks, I thought about going with the cyber options here next year. Your reasons for leaving are the reasons I decided against it. Thank you for writing about your experiences. You helped me not make a huge mistake!

  3. Sakeenah says:

    I know these posts on MAVA are a year old, but I'd still like to comment that I agree with your assessment of MAVA and doing K12 through a virtual academy 100%.
    I think the writing requirements for K12 are too intense and counter productive for the younger grades. We were having daily fits about this in my house as well to the point where I was wondering if it was my son who had an issue with handwriting. Reaching out for help isn't getting me far, either. I think as long as you can Master and Move On, you're ok. But K12 through a VA doesn't seem ready to tackle students or parents that are struggling. Our plan is to go back to homeschooling our way next year, too.

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