Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Unfortunately, virtual schooling is not all good.

I feel like I praise virtual schooling a lot. I mean, seriously, we LOVE IT!!! I think it is unfair to leave out some of the negative things about it too, though. So, I figured this would be my chance to be absolutely honest and share some of the negative points of it, too.
  1. Socialization: In school, a student is in a classroom with about 20 other students his/her age. While, a student isn't at school to socialize but to learn, the socialization is bound to happen. I only have two children and neither of them are the same age so this is impossible in my home. Instead, I must seek out opportunities to socialize my children. This isn't all bad but it does require effort. There are many places to find this --- scouts, church, sports or other recreational activities, libraries, parks, story times, homeschool groups or local booster clubs. So many opportunities but the effort must be put forth.
  2. Time: Virtual school requires a lot of time... my time. I can't just drop the kids off at school and head to the gym or go out with friends or go to my favorite store for a shopping spree. I have to stay home and take care of my children. It is pretty flexible though, so I am still able to do the things I want to or need to get done.
  3. State Standards: This is not a problem is your student goes to public school but if you're comparing virtual schooling to traditional homeschool then this is a big difference. When virtual schooling through a public school program, a student is required to meet the state standards. This includes standardized testings and "No Child Left Behind" Act. These can be good but at the same time, it can be a nuisance as well.
  4. Not an expert: None of us can be an expert in everything. This can cause some difficulties in the homeschooling/virtual schooling world. One fabulous thing about virtual schooling is that we have access to lots of great teachers. I love language arts and music classes but math and science are sometimes tough (not yet, since my son is going into first but eventually they will be). Another great thing for us is that my hubby LOVES math and science so between the two of us we should be okay. Not everyone is lucky enough to have that. 
  5. Others think they know what's best for you and it's not home educating!: Don't you love it when people do that and then you are forced to defend your decision that you spend forever thinking and maybe praying about? Yeah? Well, I don't! People want me to put my kids in a brick and mortar school so I can go to a craft group. There have been many other comments from people too. Luckily, I have a supportive family. I was home-schooled so my side of the family is completely used to it. ;) But, you'll have to be prepared to defend yourself because you'll probably need to.
  6. It's all on you!: This is one of the most difficult parts of home educating, in my opinion. If my child doesn't learn something, well, it's my fault. I am the one with my kids all day and know what is going on with them. If they don't learn something, it's my fault. If they're having a problem with something then I am responsible for getting them tutors or whatever help they may need. It's all on the parent!!
Hopefully this has given you a more realistic view of home-educating... whether through traditional homeschooling or virtual schooling. Good luck!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Laboratories of Innovation

Yesterday, a new bill was signed by the Governor of South Carolina. Now, South Carolinians have never been known for their education. In fact, we are constantly falling into the bottom five states in the nation. It's quite sad. This is one of the myriad of reasons we opted for virtual school. Anyways, thanks to our State Superintendent of Education, Mick Zais, and our Governor, Nikki Haley, charter schools are receiving more recognition. They just passed house bill 3241 which will allow all charter school students the opportunity to participate in sports and clubs at their local brick and mortar public school.
This is exciting to a lot of virtual school students, however, the brick and mortar public school students are not quite as happy. They are worried of the competition and they feel that they will lose money to the virtual school students. They shouldn't b/c my son is zoned for "Blank Blank" Elementary School. Our taxes go to support that school and if he went to that school then those funds would be spend on him. Instead, I keep him home with the virtual school. Less money is spent on him. He has a few teachers, he has an IEP but none of these teachers or therapists have to drive anywhere. They all help teach my son from the comfort of their own home. They are all paid less. No lunch ladies or janitors have to be paid because there is no school to clean and no students to cook for. There are minimal utilities to pay because they have one little office of administrative people in Columbia. Less money goes towards this charter school and for my son so to keep it all even, yeah, he should be able to participate in the local school. My son probably won't unless it's the science club or martial arts or something but he has that option. =o) I think it's pretty awesome!
So, time for the speeches. The first two speakers I pretty much spaced out for. Not really sure if they were interesting or not. Once Dr. Zais started speaking, I couldn't draw my ears away. He spoke about many of the reasons we chose this path for our children's education. I loved it! So, here is a youtube video of it and enjoy. Dr. Zais doesn't start speaking until about 3 1/2 minutes into it and then Governor Haley is after him -- her speech is good too. :) YAY!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tadpoles anyone?

So, a wonderful woman at church invited us to go and see her pond. She also said it would be fine if we took some tadpoles for Collin's tadpole habitat that he earned as a reward. They were soooo excited!!

Can you guess which one was hot and cranky and ready to go? LOL! The jar in Collin's hands is holding 7 little tadpoles in it. I didn't mean to get so many but there were lots of little tadpoles. I stuck the jar in and ba-boom! Seven little tadpoles were swimming around in it. :) The pond was awesome! We saw toads from eggs all the way up to full grow and the tadpoles in all stages in between. The tiny frogs were so cute, too!!

Here's a glimpse of the habitat from the side after we were home and transferred the tadpoles from the jar to the habitat.

Here they are the next day (today). I don't know if you can tell in this picture but the tadpole second from the left is the one who sprouted two little legs. Can you see them? Aren't they cute? I swear they weren't there yesterday!

They eat boiled lettuce right now. It's fun watching them eat and they really don't eat very much at all. I think I prepared too much for them. I boiled it and store it in the freezer. I gave them a little this morning and they've been eating it all day. When they get a little bigger I'll have to start giving them grub worms.... ew!! At least for now it's just boiled lettuce. =o)

Earth Day

I know that Earth Day was in April and we celebrated it in April but.... I haven't posted it until today. This year, Earth Day actually landed on a Sunday but Collin's teacher had an Earth Day party on the following Wednesday so that's when we celebrated it. :)

We read a book called "10 Things I Can Do to Help My World" by Melanie Walsh.
This lead to several conversations of things we can do at home to help the environment. We also went out and picked up trash in our neighborhood. And... what's a celebration without food, right?
Dirt cake, with gummy worms of course! :)

An earth cheesecake. Okay, I tried. Do you have any idea how hard it is to control where the cheesecake mix lands? Not easy at all!! haha! So, it doesn't quite look like earth but pretend that it does. ;)

What did you do for Earth Day?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Trip to the Zoo!!!

We had the awesome opportunity to meet my mom, sister and my nieces and nephew at the zoo. And, to make things even cooler, my mom has a membership so we all got little wristbands which gave us access to everything -- carousel, ponyrides, train rides, feed.... awesome-ness! My kiddos never get to do those things b/c the zoo costs a fortune to go anyways so I don't want to spend any extra money on those For our little family it's almost $40 just to get in. So, yeah, $5 for pony rides, $2 for train or carousel rides...etc. It just adds up and is too much for me to spend, even on my awesome children. ;) I'm not sure how my sister feels about me posting her children's names online so I will just use their first initial. J (7), M (6), K(4), S (2 and only boy), and then there is a bump on my sis's tummy for #5. :) So, enjoy the pics of my family at the zoo!! :)
Ryanne and Collin

Collin and M

K, my mom, S and J
S feeding a Lorakeet

My sis watching us all feeding lorakeets but she was too nervous to go in where the birds were free to land or poop on us. LOL! See the bump... yeap, that's my future niece or nephew. Not sure which one yet!
M feeding a lorakeet

Collin feeding a lorakeet
M riding a pony

Collin riding a pony

K riding a pony
Ryanne on a pony

J on a pony

and S on a pony
Feeding the goats




All the kids on a fake elephant. From front to back we have Ryanne, Collin, M, S, J, and little K is falling off the back. :)
Here they all are again. We were waiting outside the Gorilla building. L to R is... S, K, M, Collin, Ryanne, and J.

Gorilla foot with a couple of cute hands.
The girls had their faces painted and the boys each got a truck from the gift shop

Wasn't that fun? Afterwards we had a picnic by the river, went to Nephi's Books (bookstore) then we all headed back to our homes. :)

Train Museum

I feel like I've been so busy lately. Last week we went to the Zoo, this weekend we went to the drive in, and today we went to the train museum.

Collin and his friend (he loves this kid!)

The group.... the museum opened special for us. YAY!! It was only our group and one lady who worked there.

Ryanne and another little girl. Would you believe that they are only a year apart in age?

You can't see that all the kids are looking at a diorama, but they are. There were several that went all the way around the room, showing what the towns used to look like. It goes from Charleston to the GA border and a train travels from one diorama to the next. The kids loved following the train as it traveled around and around and around the room.

Afterwards, the kids and I went out and checked out the model trains outside.

Friday, March 23, 2012

SREL (Savannah River Ecology Lab) Field Trip

Today, Collin and I went to went to the Savannah River Ecology Conference Center. It was tons of fun! We arrived at 9:30. The first hour was explaining the different habitats and traps we would be checking and how to act around them. Then, we were split up into groups. I was in a group with another mom and four boys (including Collin), they were 6,6,7&9. It was a fun group. ;) Here's a shot of our group.... Collin's on the far right and the boy next to him quickly became Collin's best friend. LOL! They had fun together.

Our group was given a ziploc bag (for collecting small animals), a guide with most of the animals, insects and plants we may see so we could identify them and then two stick for looking under traps and things (just in case there were biting animals in there. ;) Here is a picture of Collin with one. After all our groups were split up we went off to the woods to check all the traps.
Here's a turtle he found hiding in a burrow in the woods. Isn't he cute? All the kids got to pet him.

Here is the wolf spider we found in a trap. Collin was given the assignment of carrying him but I held him long enough to take a picture. That's my hand under it's body so it was a pretty big spider. we let him go later. ;)

This was later, in the wetlands. There were fish in the traps.

And a baby turtle.

This turtle -- Musk Turtle (aka stinkpot turtle) -- was on the "wish list" the scientists give them so we had to take him back with us. So... Collin was given the task of carrying him back. ;)

Then we moved on to lunch time. During lunch we also watched a video about the different animals we found. After that, the scientists brought out a bunch of their animals to show the kids. I didn't get pics of all of them but here are some. ;)
A toad

A snapping turtle.

Snapping turtle again.

Glass lizard.

She was showing us the ears on the glass lizard and why it's a lizard and not a snake.

Snake... can't remember what kind.

A 6 month old gator.

A 3 year old gator (Collin gets to know this one a little better later).

Red tailed Hawk

Owl - this was this one's first time coming out to see a lot of people. He was a little scared.

An opossum.

After they were finished all the kids got a chance to hold the alligator or the snake. Collin, of course, wanted to hold both!

Doesn't he look so excited to be holding a gator?

Then, he wanted to hold the corn snake.

Most of the kids were afraid of the snake but they told the kids that if they felt comfortable with it then could put the snake around their neck. They asked Collin if he wanted to and, well, as you can tell, he didn't have a problem with it. ;)
I didn't want to get left out on all the fun so Collin took a picture of me holding the snake. 
 So, now Collin doesn't know how to decide between becoming a physicist or an ecologist. LOL!