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What I Love About Our Virtual Academy

IMG_9800All three of our school aged children are currently enrolled in a virtual academy called *Georgia Cyber Academy, which we’ve been a part of since 2007.   Prior to that we did a mish-mash of a curriculum never having  found one that I clearly loved.  I was  at a cross-roads when I found out about GCA and actually thought about quitting altogether.

Three years in, I am so thankful that I found this form of homeschooling.  It works so well for our family.  The kids have excelled in their courses, and along the way they still get to nurture the extracurricular activities that they love such as soccer, art, writing, film club, photography, and more.

The Georgia Cyber Academy uses the K¹² curriculum to offer Georgia students in grades K-8 an exceptional learning experience. With individualized learning approaches, the Georgia Cyber Academy and K¹² provide the tools kids need to succeed—in school and beyond.

The Georgia Cyber Academy is one of the fastest-growing schools in Georgia, and here’s why:

  • Our experienced, highly qualified Georgia-certified teachers, who are available online and by phone. [We love our assigned teachers. One has especially become a favorite of ours whom we look forward to hearing at our conference times.]
  • The exceptional, individualized K¹² curriculum, which covers both the core subject areas and electives. Based on decades of education research, this curriculum packages high-quality lessons with mastery-based assessments that ensure students achieve success at each and every level. [The K12 curriculum was one of the big points for me when I decided to use GCA as our homeschooling method. It's comprehensive, classic, and conservative. A perfect fit for our family.]
  • The online planning and assessment tools, resources, and hands-on materials ranging from textbooks to microscopes, from rocks and dirt to beautifully illustrated classic children’s stories, and much more. [This is an absolute God-send to us. To be able to use these tools, resources, materials, textbooks, etc.. is just wonderful.]
  • Our supportive school community, which organizes fun and informative monthly activities where GCA parents, students, and staff share their successes, helpful hints, and more.
  • The high-quality, tuition-free public education that enables a learning experience that is individualized for each student. [Having three different types of learners, this is something I see first-hand.]

This method of homeschooling works for our family.  

I’d be interested to hear what works for you and yours!

*In 2010 Georgia Virtual Academy became Georgia Cyber Academy due to the request from the Georgia Department of Education during the charter renewal process.

Mishelle Lane (10 Posts)


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Comments

  1. It’s always nice to find something that just WORKS for you.

  2. I’m glad you’ve found something that works for your family.

    In all fairness, however, this program shouldn’t be called “homeschooling”. As you point out in your post, this is “tuition-free PUBLIC education”. It is government funded, and subject to their restrictions and regulations.

    I’m concerned that it is confusing when people refer to these programs as “homeschooling”…..this is public education at home, which is not the same thing as homeschooling.

    The Home School Legal Defense Association will not allow parents to join their organization if they are using one of these state-run “public school at home” programs, since they do not consider it to be homeschooling. They have many articles on their website, warning parents about the strings attached to these programs. Here’s a link to one of them:
    http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/hslda/200402/200402100.asp

    I’m not trying to convince you to change what you are doing! You have obviously weighed the costs and benefits and felt this is a good choice for your family, and it sounds like things are going well.

    I just don’t like seeing the word “homeschool” sprinkled so liberally throughout your post and I’m confused as to why an article about a public education program has been published on The Homeschool Post.

    • I figured this would come up. I meant no disrespect, I simply decided to post about this because, even though it is a virtual academy–that is state funded–we are doing it at home. We supplement where we see fit, we belong to a home school co-op, and we have countless home schooled friends.

      I consider myself as much of home schooling mother NOW as I did back when we were independently home schooling.

      I feel the need to add: I’ve been attacked about this in the past by a fellow homeschooler and honestly felt safe posting here.

      • You *are* a homeschool mother, Mishelle.

        You are the overseer of your children’s education ~ you are the ultimate filter . . . as each of us are. We each decide how exactly homeschooling will look for our individual families.

    • Finding what works for your family is half the battle, it seems. I think Mishelle’s post is very helpful, as a lot of people don’t know what a virtual academy is about. But I also think that Molly’s information is good, because many parents also don’t realize that HSLDA doesn’t consider that option a part of homeschooling. The key is really that people understand the entire issue – from all sides, and I think this post, along with its comments, helps to provide a clearer picture for those who may not know a lot about this.

    • I must say that I’ve read more than a few of these comment from “real” home schoolers. Umm, the child is at home and going to school. Do you intend to home college and home career your child? Maybe a home family like the Ewings? These cyber schools require 3-5 hours of parental participation per day? What exactly are you teaching your children that is so different from the curriculum of this school. Get off your high horse!

  3. Not everyone does things the same way… and we need to be respectful and very careful of how we talk to others – whether they homeschool, virtual school, private school, unschool or public school. I have friends who do all of these things and have found that while I know what works for us (most of the time, that is) I can not judge another person. These differences are wonderful to discuss because it opens dialogue about the subject. I hope that we all can talk about them with the utmost respect for each other and know that while our opinions won’t be the same, our love for other loving, concerned and caring parents should be universal.

    With that being said, please feel safe posting here, Mishelle. I love you and your sweet heart.

    I also understand why HSLDA would be concerned about the charter/virtual school curriculums and “strings” because with government funds usually comes regulation. This is wise for them to be wary of as an organization and it pays to be fully in the know about whatever choice you use for your children’s education.

    Thanks for keeping it real and keeping it ‘safe’ at the Post, everyone!

  4. Thank you for sharing with us how your family homeschools. I was wondering how do the virtual schools accommodate children with learning disabilities or children who are behind their peers?

    • They test the children and if there are any questions re: learning disabilities there are ways to get help. I don’t know firsthand, but I have a friend whose children are in GCA who have varying issues. One is advanced for her grade level, one needs extra help in reading, and another is way ahead of his grade in math. They accommodate for it.

  5. I am currently using the K12 program thru South Carolina…. I absolutely love it….

  6. Also my daughter has a learning disability. They have have modified her studies like they would in a regular brick and morter school.

  7. I’ve actually just enrolled GCA our special needs 10yo for the fall! I’ve signed up for the Yahoo Groups & will be attending a webinar tomorrow. Any info/advice you have for me would GREATLY be appreciated.

    I *too* consider it homeschooling, as it’s educating at home AND it’s supplemented with other education. :)

    Great courage to come forward with your families situation. KUDOS & blessings!

    • Nikowa, Feel free to email me if you have any questions, but it’s really easy flow. At times it can seem overwhelming, but that’s when we pull back and do other types of learning (like hands on, etc..) You’re gonna love it.

  8. I adore GCA as well! Sure, it may not be “typical” homeschool—but I don’t have “typical” kids either! This has well surpassed what I anticipated and I appreciate every single aspect of it. My eldest is doing beautifully with it…we began because our son has significant medical needs, and we couldn’t drive her to and from the brick and mortar (it was a 1.5 hour round trip drive) and accommodate his needs at the same time. This is the perfect solution for us, and I’m so happy you are talking about it.

  9. Doty Wells says:

    I was googling some reviews about GCA and came across your blog. I too am a veteran GCA mom and a former homeschool mom. I love the k12 cirriculum first and foremost. We have always been great supports of any type of schooling a parent chooses to do with their child. Although GCA is not technically homeschooling in the traditional sense, we do school our kids at home virtually. Personally, we enjoyed k12 as a tranditional homeschooler and decided to join the ranks of GCA. We have not looked back!

    GCA is not the right fit for every family; however, it is nice to have this option available. We might not always do GCA with both of our children, yet I would recommend it to anyone as a credible and challenging cirriculum. As far as the state testing goes, I will leave that one alone for the time being as there is not enough room for me to really express my feelings. I look at is a mere tool to see how my child as prospered over the year and not as a tool for how well he or she can test.

    I appreciate those who don’t feel GCA is homeschool, but do not like being bashed for my choices. GCA families are in a grey area in our state because we are not accepted by the state and local communities. Our kids can’t participate in local school sports as their B & M counterparts although we have to subject to state testing mandates. We have come along way in making changes to our state education system, but we still have many more battes to win or fight.

    I do not know if we will continue with GCA long term, but it is a fit for now as we are happy with the choices we have made over the past several years. When the shoe does not fit any longer, then we will reaccess our educational choices. Until that time comes, we will move forward with GCA.

  10. Doty Wells says:

    I am sorry for the typos in the previous post as I need to really get in bed earlier at night.

  11. I was very Anti-Home School until this summer. I thought it hurt a child more than it helped them. I am a public school teacher and believed in the public school system… .UNTIL… I actually started working at a public school. I can clearly see how so many students do not get the education they deserve. In most cases, it is not the teacher’s qualifications. From what I have experienced it is 75 percent of the time used to redirect student behavior and 25% of the time used for instruction. How students learn anything in classes with disruptive students is beyond me. I have looked into this program and have decided that I paid a lot of money for my college education, I might as well put it to good use and teach my own child at home. I am actually excited about my new career as a learning coach.

    • Glad to hear it, Sonja! I too am tired of the disruptions in the classrooms and since the school board feels just in closing our beloved local school, we WILL do GA Cyber Academy next year. Our grand-daughter is a straight A student and I just found out the board wants to send her to a school that did not pass the testing for the state last year! Disgusting. She is very bright so I want her to excel where she can and get the most out of school, not have to sit in class while teachers have to deal with classroom disruptions.

  12. I have 3 children, 2 of which (my sons) are grown and on their own — working/raising their families. I home schooled the boys until they were high school age. They both transitioned well, and did great in public school. Now that they are grown, they have both told us that we did them both a great service by home schooling, then integrating them into public school.

    I still have a teen at home — our only daughter. We were older (and more tired) when we had our daughter. Our daughter is spirited and active, and quite frankly, it is near impossible to keep up with her AND run the business. Oh yeah, we also have owned a ROBUST home based/family-run business for the past 3 years that is HUGELY time consuming.

    School choice has always been an issue of prayer, and I did not feel the same calling to home school her in her elementary/middle school years. But a few weeks into her freshman year of high school, we now find ourselves considering bringing her home for her education — for at least a year. Why? Well, long story short, she is on the mischievous side and has gotten into some relationships that we find more than a little scary. We feel that if we bring her home for the rest of the school year (at least) and really love on her, perhaps she may choose a safer direction as the boys did.

    I think, since we are still in the mindset of possibly re-integrating her into public school, it may make the most sense to keep her in the public school curriculum. Curriculum is not the issue with us — our issue is removing the negative social influences to which she is being exposed. We find that facebook only tends to fan the flames of these influences — even though we monitor, many times, the damage is already done — no way to proactively protect her. We are doing what we can to “go off the grid” for awhile (no facebook/no cell phone) and put family arms around our baby girl.

    I have found all the posts here and elsewhere to be very helpful, though, and am preparing to possibly go the classic home school route if the cyber academy gets overwhelming for us — especially with the added responsibilities of being business owners.

    Thanks to all for the input. God bless each of you and your sweet families.

  13. Malaika Wells says:

    I am so happy to have found this website. I have bookmarked it! We are embarking soon on the homeschool journey with our 3 children, and have chosen to use GCA. I am excited as I know this is a step in the right direction (i.e., obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit) for this family. Thank you, Mishelle Lane for the article and the encouragement. Peace!

  14. I’m a full-time working single parent and have struggled to find a good alternative for my son who’s too smart for special ed and too different to avoid ridicule by his class mates. My understanding of the difference in homeschooling and using at-home public school resources lies in the laws of the state. You may want to include a little disclaimer that there is a difference and to check states laws to avoid all those negative comments… I can definately see the state’s concern for making the term “homeschooling” interchangable for at-home public school – there’s a huge financial difference. Georgia has really strict attendance policies and a requirement for homeschooling adults to be the child’s parent. The Cyber school has no physical presence requirement, and no parent-only requirement, and yet it’s structured and forces a family to be accountable. I can’t not work, but I can make sure I have an adult home with my son, and I can make sure he has someone capable of tutoring or actively monitoring him and his schooling while home, and I can take full responsibility to make this happen. I estimated I can do this for about half “reasonable” private school tuition. I spend alot of time in the evenings re-teaching what oldest son didn’t pay attention to the first time he heard his lesson and it’s a real struggle because he’s so darn autistic and out in space. And, maybe, if I can hook up with other families, my boy will blossom away from the bullies. And maybe, if I can get his dad to support this method of schooling, the two can have more time together since we live so far apart. I can see win-win-win for all of us … We used to have quarterly visitation and it was perfect for us. Thank you for sharing your experiences, maybe one day we can do the same sort of schooling!

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