Virtual School Lessons

This year, we tried Florida Virtual School (aka FLVS)–the online public school program run by the state of Florida–for a couple of courses for my teens with mixed results. Well, they have both earned good grades in the classes taken, but we’ve all learned something about public school courses–not just how to take them but their quality and the huge impact they’ve had on our homeschooling.

Both used FLVS for Driver’s Ed. Florida requires a four-hour course on drugs and alcohol before a teen can earn a permit. The FLVS course is much longer than four hours, giving a half credit, but ends with the child ready to pass the written exam and gives the child a discount on insurance. So they each took it and while the course frightened them so that neither wanted to actually drive any time soon, they didn’t mind the course and it was a positive experience overall.

Spanish was another matter entirely. I made them take Spanish through FLVS because I’d heard from people whose kids had difficulty getting their foreign language credits accepted when they weren’t from an accredited source. Mind you, foreign language courses are the only sort of course that I’ve heard this complaint about. So, I figured I’d have them take Spanish through FLVS and avoid such issues. Little did I know what I was putting us in for when I made that decision.

As the school year is winding to a close, both have dragged their feet, whined, and complained so much about Spanish. They’ve spent way too many hours doing lessons and don’t seem to have learned nearly as much as they ought for the number of hours put in–which makes sense since so many of the assignments seem to have little language learning involved and seem instead to focus more on learning about the culture. The latest report showed that they’d been in the second semester for 13 weeks but had finished only about half of the assignments. I know they were hoping that I’d give in under the pressure and tell them that they didn’t have to finish. But I didn’t. Instead, I went the opposite direction and told them that they needed to buckle down, push their way through, and get the course finished by the end of the school year as I’m tired of having this hanging over our heads.

They’ve muttered and complained and spent most of the previous week in their rooms getting several lessons done each day. When they’ve complained, I’ve told them that they dragged it out and now they are reaping the results and they need to buckle down and force their way through. In other words, I’ve been playing the role of mean mama trying to make them finish what they started (and wondering if I was doing the right thing or not the whole time). Today, my 16-year-old told me that he realized that he has a love-hate relationship with the Spanish course and while he’s looking forward to it being done, and is planning how he’ll up his workout routine once that course is off his back, he’ll also rather miss it since it’s been such a huge part of this school year. I think he’s seeing the end in sight and is glad I pushed him to do something he didn’t think he could do–that it’s increased his self-confidence. (Which isn’t to say that we’re doing this again next year. I have plans, at this point, to trade math lessons for language lessons from a native-Spanish speaker for Spanish 2 next year as I’m disappointed in the quality of the public school lessons and would rather have them learn more even if they have to take a placement exam later for credit from a college.)



One thought on “Virtual School Lessons

  1. And here’s another example of the wasted time involved in these lessons.

    One of the latest lessons asked the student to read the instructions for a card game involving 2 decks of cards and 4 jokers. The student was to play the game and then write something about what was learned. The Spanish language learning involved? Two words used as part of the game. Two words. For an assignment that involved a lot of frustration as my teens each tried to figure out how to play the game from reading a long description of it. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been able to figure out how to play a new game from just reading the instructions (which always sound too complicated and confusing). Instead, I have to find someone who’s willing to stumble through the rules with me until we figure them out by trying them. So, one child spent a looong time trying to figure out how to play this game without someone to play. When he finally told me how much time he’d spent and how frustrated he was, I made him sit with me and together we worked through the rules and figured out the games so he could write about it. What a waste of time it seemed since all the language learning involved was reading two words that were translated in the directions. What happened to learning Spanish to actually learn how to communicate with others in Spanish?



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