It’s spring break in Arizona! In honor of spring break I thought I’d talk a little about online school. I really didn’t know much about online school before the girls started. Seems simple…school on a computer. But it’s not really that simple.
If you follow-up you probably already know we are a cystic fibrosis, asthma, sickly sorta family. Being surrounded by hundreds of other kids everyday just made our kids sick more often, and particularly with Lexi’s CF took every bit of energy she had. It was a no win situation, and causing a tremendous amount of stress on our family as a whole. So in the past year the girls transitioned to online school. The move itself made a positive difference in our family, but the girls have found out that online school is actually harder. Stressing that. ONLINE SCHOOL IS HARDER. I know I have friends whose kids say “I wish I could do online school,” so I think people need to understand what it takes a little better.
We take online school through our school district. So our program might be a little different than other schools. We haven’t done any other programs. Online school requires kids to be great independent learners, and when they aren’t it requires micro management from parents. Just like if you have a job, the kids are required to submit time sheets everyday with the amount of time they spent on each class. If they didn’t work on a class that day they still have to submit 0 hours. Parents then have to approve their timesheets each week by Sunday, and you have to approve for every day signing off that the kids were honest. The system also tracks the amount of time they spend in a course. Assignments are due daily, and just like in a regular classroom, if your late points are deducted. If you have 4 zeros you can’t take the final, and if you don’t take the final you can’t pass. Students must also get at least a 60% on their final, and they must take the final in person at one of the testing facilities.
Lexi’s online school situation is just a little different. She has an Individualized Learning Plan (IEP) that allows her a certain number of homebound instruction hours each week. So for a couple of hours a week she gets to meet with a teacher outside of school and get extra instruction in areas where she might need it such as math. She also has online classes that she is responsible for taking independently. So it’s half and half. She does get extra time to complete assignments, understanding her Cystic Fibrosis creates days she isn’t healthy enough to really learn and study.
Brooklyn takes traditional online school. No homebound instruction for her, but when needed we do have tutoring options that can help. Brooklyn can get an extension on her due dates if she is ill, but it isn’t as structured as Lexi’s accommodations. Brooklyn has what is called a 504 plan, which allows for flexibility for medical reasons.
So I’d say online school requires more from kids, and is harder for parents. The online teachers have been wonderful. It’s a bit hard to manage a plan through online school, but I think we finally have it figured out. Unfortunately every time a new class starts it is about educating the teacher on the plan. We’ve learned very few kids with IEPs go to online school, so sometimes its more challenging than other times.
I’ve had to learn how to parent online school. The girls have had to learn how to manage online school. It isn’t easy. Life was easier from an education perspective when the girls went to school everyday, but for now it isn’t the optimal decision for their physical health and our families mental health.