This is a personal story about how live online courses have changed how I approach teaching. Today was one of those days I would rate an epic failure; on a scale of 1 to 10, it ranked terribly close to zero. Perhaps if you knew me personally, you wouldn’t be surprised, but I look pretty pulled together on paper. After 18 years of working in public education and homeschooling my boys since 2009 (even getting the first of them off to college with scholarship money), and now working for a remarkable homeschool academy, I want to tell you, none of it matters when your 8th grade student confesses he hasn’t done ANY of his grammar lessons for the past month. He only owned up to it because I finally had a moment to ask to see his book – that’s another story. (Insert homeschool mom guilt here – is there an emoji for that? There should be!)
The truth of the matter is it can be very hard for a homeschooling parent to stay on top of all the academic work when you consider the age of the child (or children!) in the home, the housework, meal prep and in my case, full-time, work from home job. Being an “expert” doesn’t get me any more time in my day, and as my boys have gotten older, I have had to find creative ways to keep them engaged and accountable (grammar notwithstanding). The bottom line for me was recognizing I can’t provide everything I want for my children without some homeschool help. My best option because of my schedule and where we live is live, online courses which are also sometimes referred to as “learning labs.”
As a former classroom teacher and school principal, the decision to allow someone else to instruct my child, even part of the time, was not an easy one. I have seen the damage done when parents step out of the educational process. Trusting in a system to decide what’s most important and then actually teach it in a way each child learns is a big leap of faith. However, when you find a great live online course provider, you have the ability to see your child grow in knowledge and skills while you DIRECTLY supervise it from the comfort of your home. And the best learning lab instructors are happy to work alongside you to help tailor the course material to your child’s strengths, while simultaneously bolstering up those weak areas.
Here is the short list of benefits I have seen from the live online instruction my boys have received:
- Better independent work habits – Yes, they turn assignments in on time and usually give their best to the OTHER teacher (and I can honestly say I have never heard them argue about the requirements with her – sigh).
- Great feedback – It is truly a blessing to have someone else grade some of the work and give me insights into my child I wouldn’t get by looking at it through my mom lens. Bonus if that “someone” is an expert in subject matter which is not my forte – high school physics, as one example.
- Meeting new peers – Virtual classrooms are fantastic places for students to collaborate and share ideas, interests, and expertise.
- Terrific resources – In every course, my children have taken in a virtual classroom, the instructor has provided a plethora of extras – videos, websites, projects, and activities – to extend the learning. I simply don’t have time to search for all these non-essential, but inspiring resource materials myself, but they do so much to enrich our homeschool.
Okay, and there is this last one little benefit for me, the dedicated homeschooling parent. Dare I say it? TIME. No, it isn’t a lot of time because I am still the instructor for the largest part of their day, but I will take what I can get with everything else I have on my plate. Before I enrolled my guys in their first live online courses, I sometimes fantasized about what I could get done if they were to get on the big yellow school bus every morning. Still, an hour or two a week when they were little to fold the laundry sitting in the basket by the dryer or catch up on a few emails was, and still is, so appreciated. (I discovered live online courses when my kids were still in elementary school, and with these benefits in mind, I have continued to schedule one or two for them each year since.)
I guess, though, what I should be doing with that extra time is checking on my teenager’s daily grammar lessons because clearly, he is capitalizing on my disdain for correcting conjugated verbs and diagrammed sentences. Of course, I could also use the time to see if there is a learning lab dedicated solely to grammar for him next year…yes, that sounds like a plan.
If you are wondering if live online courses are right for your child, Bridgeway Academy has a great informational resource for you: Virtual Classrooms Bring Online Learning to Life
I would encourage you to take a few minutes to check it out to learn more about the incredible benefits of incorporating learning labs into your child’s homeschool program.