Homeschooling, Kids + Pets

K12 Online School Review

This is our first year to homeschool our 9 year old engineer. When it came to picking a program for our son, there was no doubt that we would be enrolling in the K12 Online School program for the upcoming school year. It came highly recommended to us, and we chose to dive right in. We were excited (and nervous!) to begin our new adventure of homeschooling through this online resource.

As we began going through all of the initial steps of getting started, these were some of our first thoughts:

  • Seemed to fit the flexible schedule we were looking for
  • Online learning was a good fit for our engineer who is computer savvy
  • Teacher led classes took the pressure off of the parent to teach the lessons
  • Allowed us to school from anywhere, granted internet was accessible

Now, let’s break the program down a little more for you. It is important to remember that the K12 Online School program is essentially public school being taught at home. The K12 Online School program consists of the following:

  • Enrollment and acceptance process
  • Orientation
  • The Online School (OLS)
  • Blackboard Classes

The Enrollment and Acceptance Process

This was all done through consultation calls and online submissions of paperwork. I will be honest, this part drove me mad. The enrollment agency that K12 uses is a bit lacking in their helpfulness and communication responsiveness. The agents were very nice to speak to, but it seemed as though they were only trained to read from a scripted text. If you had questions that veered off of the script, then you could expect not to get a straight response.

Once you agree to enroll your child into the program, parents are given access to a Parent Portal where all status updates and documentation uploads are maintained. Submission of the appropriate paperwork for enrollment was very similar to the records required for regular brick and mortar school enrollment. However, you were responsible for scanning and signing any documentation to then go through an additional approval process. If a document was not accepted, there was no indication of why or what was missing/needed. Instead, you, as the parent, had to call the enrollment agency again to determine what was needed.

Orientation

Once enrollment and acceptance into the program was approved, we received information around orientation before the actual school year began. This included a call with the lead teacher overseeing the grade level as well as an orientation webinar and course.

The orientation webinar format allowed students and parents to ask questions directly to staff members. This was helpful in getting all those pre-school questions out of the way and gain a bit of a better handle on the expectations of the program. The orientation course was a good resource in walking first-time parents and students through the online school system.

Online School

The Online School (OLS) was where all of the schooling and scheduling took place. Think of the OLS as a student portal. Classes, coursework and email could all be accessed through this portal. The OLS was set up very well, and it was extremely user-friendly. My son was able to navigate through the OLS on his own with no problem.

Coursework for each class, or what was considered “lessons”, were all accessible through the OLS as well. This is where parents (or Learning Coaches) are needed. These lessons were taught using online lessons in addition to offline resources. Remember that video of the materials unboxing? All those supplies are implemented through these lessons.

Blackboard Classes

The teacher-led classes and assemblies are all accessible though BlackBoard. This is a third-party software that you will be required to download in order to access all classes. We were running all of our schooling programs through Firefox on an iMac. This was the recommended browser for our school. However, it did not fail that we continued to have technical difficulties getting into the class, or even more frustrating, getting kicked out of the class, or the class freezing.

Fortunately, these classes were recorded for reference, and we often listened to the recordings due to technical difficulties. Overall, the Blackboard software provided an interactive tool for teachers and students to connect over a lesson.

The K12 Online School program ended up not being a good fit for our family and for my student, but that may not be the case for you.

This program may be great for your family if:

  • You still want the structure of public school
  • You want more involvement with your child’s schooling
  • You want an all-in-one school program free of charge
  • You don’t want to worry about finding curricula for your students
  • You are able to dedicate at least 5-6 hours of hands-on teaching in addition to teacher-led classes
  • You are looking for an online solution to public school

This program may not be for you if:

  • You want an individualized program for your student
  • You want a flexible schedule that meets the needs of your family, and not the state
  • You want to teach to your own standards, instead of state standardized tests
  • You are looking for a school option that you can control what your child is learning and how

At the end the f the day, we decided to withdraw from the K12 program after the first quarter. To read more about this decision, I have outlined our reasons in this post, and I have outlined our new curriculum choices in this post.

When deciding to homeschool, it is important to remember that there are many resources available. Though it may be a bit overwhelming at first, you will find what works best for your student. If a curriculum if no longer serving your student or your family, and you are finding that you are struggling to make it work for your student, then it may not be the right choice. This is okay!

In most cases, homeschooling families choose to homeschool because they want to individualize the curriculum for their student(s), and finding the right curriculum to suit the needs of your student can be a bit of trial and error. This may mean that, like us, you may explore many different options before finding the right fit.