We are on our last week of school! It has been an amazing year. We have met so many wonderful people, been to new places, and learned all sorts of new things!
Plus, just being able to go and do things at times most people are at work or in a brick and mortar school has been pretty awesome! It is cool how much we have gotten to see and do when the places we go are not as crowded as they are on weekends.
This has been a great learning experience for our entire family, some of our friends, and even our daycare families. They have all been so supportive and full of questions. Just being able to share our adventures with them and with MetroFamily Magazine’s readers has been a very rewarding experience for us. It has opened so many doors, and not just for us—our adventures have helped other people realize that they can homeschool, too, and that they have a lot of options.
Today we want to look back on some of the fun we had and share some of the things we learned this year.
If you have been following my blog, you know that, after a lot of research and discussion, we chose the “public school option." This basically means that we do our school at home, but our curriculum is provided to us by a “virtual school” which is considered a “public school” because the state pays them just like they do a “brick and mortar” public school. Our “virtual school” just doesn’t have a traditional campus. We also have a state accredited teacher that helps us stay on track and helps us make sure we meet or exceed the standards set f by the state of Oklahoma.
There are upsides and downsides to this school option. Some of the upsides are not paying for your curriculum and having someone there to help you and track your progress. For us those were very important perks! The other part that we really liked was that our school is very dedicated to trying to make sure the families get a chance to meet up and network as well. They set up events almost every month all over Oklahoma to help families meet and broaden the horizons of all the students.
We did all sorts of fun activities! Ice skating, roller skating, field day, Science Museum, Laser Tag, pumpkin patch, the zoo, Spelling Bee, and the list goes on…plus, our school is very dedicated to helping their military families. They set up a “co-op” of sorts with a site coordinator that helped set up fun activities, learning experiences, and even community involvement projects for the kids to attend. We also met up with other military families that home school for PE, recess, picnics, field trips and even holiday parties and potluck gatherings. It helps the kids to meet new people and make some friends. It also provides the parents with an invaluable support network by allowing them to share not only their homeschool experiences, but also their experiences and insights specifically related to the situations that families face in the military.
Another upside is being able to take school with us wherever we went! Under the “public school option”, we still had to track/report our attendance and meet a specific number of days per year and hours per day, but we could do it from anywhere! As long as we could get online to check in for the day and do any assignments that had an online component (not all of them do), we could go almost anywhere at any time! It was great being able to go to appointments, the library, on play dates for the younger kids, and even go places out of town and just bring along our school work. No more waiting for the kids “to get home from school” before we can leave to go visit family or “waiting till we had a four day weekend to check out an attraction just far enough away to make it too hard for a regular two day weekend. Within in reason, we could pretty much do school whenever and whereever we wanted—the sense of freedom was amazing!
A very important perk for us was being able to work at our children’s pace. No more waiting on a classroom full of people to catch on and finish the lesson. We moved as quickly as our children’s learning allowed us to! Our son finished his entire 5th grade curriculum and by the end of this week will be done with more ½ of his 6th grade curriculum! We knew how smart he was and how fast he could learn, but in a classroom with 20+ children and 1 teacher, it is just not feasible for the teacher to be able to let just a few students work ahead. My son met and exceeded our expectations by a long shot. We are truly amazed and humbled by him!
Something important to me is that we have grown closer together as a family. We have been lucky that their father has not had to deploy again this year. We have been in Oklahoma for three years on Memorial Day weekend and, in that time, he has been gone for almost 10 months of that. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but he left 6 months after we moved here, was home barely 6 more months before leaving again. Trust me when I say that the coming and going is not much easier than when they are gone for straight 12 months at once. I have personally dealt with both. Either way is NO FUN!
For us, about the only downsides has been how to figure out scheduling for stuff that not everyone in the family is involved in—which for us was he state mandatory testing for our son. Almost everything else that the school has offered has welcomed the entire family, even the little ones not yet in school! The hardest part for us at times was simply having too many fun activities to choose from. Our kids were enrolled in gymnastics and the class was right in the middle of the day, so sometimes it was hard to decide whether or not to miss a paid for class and go to a school sponsored event. This was when having Daddy involved and awesome friends came in handy. One of us took the little ones to their event and one of us took our older son to his! TEAM WORK ROCKS!
As we have already shared we have a lot of fun activities and events planned for this summer. We can’t wait to tell you all about them. Next week we are kicking off the summer by spending Memorial Day with grandparents. They have new puppies that we are super excited to meet. Our first local event is the Summer Reading Program kick off at the Moore Public Library on May 31st!
Then, the first week of June, our family embarks on a new adventure that brings about some changes for the McManus troops. Stay tuned to hear all about it!