Thursday, September 10, 2015

Our Home School Family

As we sit down and let our evening wind down I find myself reflecting on our home school experience. The last few months have flown by. One moment I was anticipating the beginning of the school year, now here it is. Where did the summer go? It seems like it gets shorter every year. With the beginning of this new year I find myself reminiscing about our summer break. I bet you find yourself looking back on your family's summer as well. If you're anything like us you had a crazy summer! Ours consisted of both of our children having minor surgery, lots little league games, tons of biking and skateboarding, hikes, visits to Volcanoes, climbing on the Fremont Troll, and having several family members come out to visit us from the east coast. It was definitely fun for the most part BUT it's that time of year when we have to pack those experiences away in our memories and shift focus and priorities.

First Day Picture

School in Our Home

 In most families the start of school consists of buying new clothes and making sure everything is ready for your child's return to their brick and mortar school. In my home things are very similar but also quiet different to the normal school routine. You may be asking why?! You see, I teach my children at home using the K12 program. Some of you may have heard of it, some not. This program has been wonderful for our family. In this method the student uses a lesson plan that the chosen k12 school provides. The student must have a "learning coach" in order to help them and instruct them during their lessons. In our case I am the primary learning coach. K12 solved a lot of problems we had with our home school district but with all of it's allure you mustn't forget that it's also a huge commitment. Research and more research is needed before deciding on any alternative education method for your child, this program being no different.

While K12 is a free online public school it isn't all together hassle free. Your research will show you that. The school doesn't provide all the supplies- including but not limited too: paper, crayons, pencils, poster board, in some cases a computer, your internet connection, random crafts material, calculators, etc. (Of course this list changes based on your child's grade.) Our children are still in elementary school. You also need to be extremely prepared for what exactly it means to be a learning coach. Looking at the schedule everyday is daunting but do not over work yourself and focus more on percentages then daily work. Also, make sure to take into account the time needed to complete the required class connect and therapy sessions (if your child needs therapy) each day.

A little about my K12er's

My oldest son, Zain, is autistic. When at his local school he required a one-on-one paraprofessional with him all day long; with K12 and our school he is able to succeed with his teachers and myself aiding him only. We joined K12 as a last resort to end the bullying Zain was experiencing- as well as remedy his paraprofessional's inability to show up to work. This is his 2nd year with K12, meaning we are still technically "newbies". We love their program though. Zain's just about 12 years old and currently working on 3rd grade level work. He is technically a 5th grade student; however he would be in 6th grade had he not been held back.

Zain and Myself

My youngest son, Dryden, is typically developing and just started his first year with K12. Dryden didn't require any extra help while in his local public school; the choice to attend K12 was made by Dryden on his own. He is 9 and in 3rd grade. Dryden is working at his expected level for his age. However he does have a touch of ADHD. By a touch I mean it oozes out of his pours most days. It's just part of his overall charm, got to love him.

Dryden and our dog Dug

Getting Ready for the School Year 

Of course having access to a computer and the internet are two of the highest priorities for this fashion of schooling. Since those two elements are not necessarily an issue for my family I really don't have any worries concerning them. Just be aware that these two required elements are not provided by the program (in some cases a computer may be, that depends on the school you go through and the state you live in) Another important point when homeschooling with any program is providing the right environment for your children to learn in. I try to remember that a messy home leads to a messy mind. Part of this environment includes having a functional set-up in order to teach effectively.

In our family's given situation having an area that has a separated teacher and student area works best. One that is somewhat like a regular classroom. Given that our oldest son is diagnosed with autism having a situation that is as close to a classroom as I can provide is important. In our home there is an area for me to work out problems with them on a board and there are areas for both of them to work independently. Both of my boys and myself also decorated the areas in a way that reflected an area they would enjoy learning in. This main learning area is simple, has visual aids for my oldest son, and is comfortable for them both.

Our learning area

Their preparation shelves

What they see as they are learning

They can clearly see their schedules

Our First Day of This Year

Now that the first week of school is here don't worry if you use K12 and are confused. The first few weeks of school are always confusing. If you aren't left wanting to pull your hair out I have found it is a good implication that you are doing something wrong. At least in these introductory weeks. I have to keep reminding myself that we have to pace ourselves and learn at our speed, especially with a special needs student. I must say that last year with one student was a faster process for me, I am finding so far this year that having two students is vastly different but doubly as rewarding. It does takes longer to complete the daily work because they both need my help; however it is nice to watch my children help keep each other on task while I am teaching. Who knows maybe this school year will end up bonding our family even more closely than we already are. What I do know for sure is that once class connects start and we fall into a routine things will go much more smoothly for us. That applies to both my children and myself.

As our first day ticked on we found ourselves finishing lesson after lesson, class after class. While we did experience our own hick-ups we are able to say we persevered and finished up our work without overworking ourselves. Now to move onto day two. Here's to hoping for another successful day for all of us learning coaches and our students.

Working on our school work on day 1

Self Portraits

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