Hey, guys! Last week I shared a post about some of the things homeschoolers are not, this week I’d like to share what homeschooling is like for me 🙂
So as I said last week, I’ve been homeschooled my entire life. I’ve never gone to a public school. However, the way I’ve been homeschooled has in fact changed over the years. When I was little, like kindergarten age, my mom would sit down and teach me and my siblings everything. As we moved up on the age ladder, we began to work more independently. My mom would follow a curriculum and then give us the amount of work we would do each day, still helping us a lot, but not teach us everything. Got to middle school, started working even more independently in which I myself had a curriculum that had a schedule and I followed that schedule each day.
Now in high school, I’m the most independent that I’ve ever been. I do a few different things. I take a few online courses with an online school called the Potter’s School (click here to check out their website). The Potter’s School is a really cool place, I’ve been taking classes with them since my freshman year of high school. Basically, each class meets once or twice a week through this thing called GP5. It’s kinda like Skype except much more complicated, better quality, and there are no video cameras so you can’t see anyone in the class. Everyone has a mic and there’s a chat box. The teacher teaches obviously through his or her mic and also with either a whiteboard (which is kind of like a power point presentation) or by sharing his or her screen. Each class is recorded, so you can go back and watch it if you had to miss class or want to review something. The students are assigned a week’s worth of schoolwork that is usually due by the start of the next class. The thing is, the teachers don’t tell you when and how to schedule everything. They basically just say: “this is the amount of schoolwork that needs to be completed by next class. Get it done. Bye!” So you plan everything out for yourself and once you finish your homework, you submit it online through this thing called Study Place (that’s also where we see all of our assignments). Some assignments we have to submit as like a Word document or something of that nature; others we actually do on Study Place. If we do it on Study Place, then Study Place will automatically grade it and you can see your grade right away. Otherwise, the teachers grade it and give it back to you, sometimes with a few comments.
It’s a pretty rigorous school, you have to test to get into it, and it can feel kinda intense sometimes, but they teach good stuff. I’ve taken all sorts of classes with them in the past, and this year I’m taking Spanish, Arabic, and honors English with them.
One of the coolest parts about the Potter’s School is that since it’s all online, you get to meet people from all over the world. I’ve had people who live in Nicaragua, South Africa, Russia, China, England, Australia, the list goes on and on, in my classes. Not to mention, I’v yet to meet someone in any of my classes who lives in the same state as me. So that’s really neat!
Also, they have different ways for students to interact. So they have a like a forum where all the students can talk, get to know each other, post pictures, post videos, write blogs, so on and so forth. They have an online school newspaper called The Cracked Pot that I’ve been writing for for two years. They have different camps throughout the year that you can go to and meet people, like winter and summer camps. They do missions trips to various places as well, my brother went on a missions trip with them to China two years ago and that was a huuuuuuuuge blessing for him.
They have a diploma program so you can graduate through them, not virtually, they have an actual graduation ceremony that you go to. I am not graduating through them, but it is an option.
The only downside about the Potter’s School is having to deal with the technology. It causes you to really see how technology can be a blessing or a curse. When it’s working properly, it’s great ! But when it doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to,well…that’s a whole other story. Sometimes you’ll be doing an online assignment or be in class and have a tech problem that’s just on your end. For example, maybe your internet isn’t working so you can’t get into class, or your mic isn’t working so you can’t answer any questions or do anything that would you require you to use it. Other times the whole class will be having a problem. That’s when things get interesting. So, for some reason no one can see the whiteboard, or GP5 repeatedly keeps kicking people out of class, or no one can hear the teacher. There have been times when classes have been canceled because the technology refuses to co-operate. Thankfully, we now have tech support to help us out if we’re having any issues. Sometimes they’re helpful, other times not so much. It’s okay though, it’s not super common for classes to be canceled or for their to be huge problems because of the technology, but it certainly does keep us on our toes!
I also go to an “umbrella school” called Mt. Sophia Academy. It’s like a school for homeschoolers, the state considers it to be a private school. We meet twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays (or Mondays or Thursdays depending on what classes you take). You can take as many or as little classes as you prefer. This year I’m taking Algebra II with them. We have all of the normal school stuff, like sports teams and prom and different school events, and such. They have a diploma program, which I’m doing, so I’m graduating and getting my diploma through them. If you do the diploma program, you also get your own academic adviser, which is nice.
My dad is a computer scientist and he’s teaching/overseeing an online computer programming course this year that I’m taking. That course is interesting, there’s an online program we do that involves videos lectures and assignments and tests and stuff. So my dad assigns us work and gives us due dates (once again we have to work out when to do it on our own), and then if we have any questions we can ask him through this website called HipChat. We have meetings once a week through HipChat and through another program called RingCentral Meetings, which is like a better quality version of Skype.
It’s kinda weird having my dad as a teacher because he has this thing where he really doesn’t want to show me any favoritism since I’m his daughter, but then he kinda tends to blow it out of proportion. Like if I have a question about something, despite the fact that we live in the same house, he makes me go on HipChat and ask him on there because “none of the other students can just ask me in real life whenever they want to, so you can’t either!” Go figure.
Finally, I more or less self teach health and geography to myself. There’s like a curriculum and a book to read from with assignments and tests and all that. However, what I do with that has changed since the beginning of the year because, as you can see, I have quite a heavy workload. By October of last year I already felt so drained, like there was no way I was gonna be able to make it to the end of the school year. School was taking up a lot of my free time and causing me to miss a lot of my dance practices. Soooooooo, my mom decided to make it so that I only do the quizzes and tests for geography and health instead of doing the full thing. This way I still get all of the important information, but I have a little bit more time on my hands. The quizzes and tests are open book, and my mom grades them. Doing them this way has definitely been helpful in freeing up my schedule a bit.
So, yeah, that’s what I do for homeschool. Is it easy? No. Do I ever get tired of spending the majority of the day in my house? Yes. Would I ever prefer to go to a public school? Not in a million years 🙂