What does a regular school day in your life look like? Alarm goes off at six o’clock a.m., you rush to get everything done in fifteen minutes, hop in the car, get to school, attend your classes, see your friends, etc.? Sounds like a pretty typical day. Here’s my school day: wake up at seven o’clock, eat breakfast while reading some of my book, get dressed and brush my teeth, then get to work, moving through each course at my own pace. Sometimes I’ll start with algebra, other days I’ll begin with something simple like vocabulary or grammar. Whether a subject takes fifteen minutes or two hours, each course teaches me something new and challenges me. Also, with the click of a button, I can go to a threaded discussion and talk with new and old friends in my school—at any time! Sounds like a unique sort of day? Actually, kids all over the country can experience this sort of school day through an online learning program called K12.
I believe that this learning environment is beneficial academically and socially to kids of all ages because it is offers a way to learn without the hassles and let downs of public schools.
I wasn’t too thrilled when my mom informed me that I would be attending a Drama Club hosted by two K12 moms. It was a class for kids of all ages to learn about drama and take on some acting roles. I did not know anyone in the class, and was naturally shy and introverted on the first day. However, many of the kids seemed to know each other and laughter and happy chatter filled the room that day. I found that, as the weeks passed, I was soon laughing and chatting away as well with my new friends, giving them hugs when it was time to leave. Not all of these friends were just my age and gender, though. There were girls of all ages, and five boys brave enough to participate, but they all got along with the fifteen girls in the class. Because of the large group, I felt more comfortable attending other school events because I knew that someone from Drama Club would be there, such as the last park day of the summer for new and old K12 kids. There were several friends from Drama that came running up to us and gave me hugs. It was nice to go and not be a new, shy student but rather someone that could open up to new kids there that day. That bond of friendship between kids who were very unlike me or younger helped me feel more open to all of the kids I met in K12. Socially, K12 is a safe way to go because you do not run into many friendship problems and you get along well with other kids in the program.
When I ended my eighth grade year, I knew that I would have to make some friends in the K12 high school since most of my friends were still in middle school. Because most of my friends were from Drama Club were much younger than me, all but one would still be in middle school so I would not have too much more interaction through K12 with them. My chance came when I went to the high school orientation at a local college. There were about thirty other kids there, all milling about the outdoor courtyard at the college, talking about their interests and laughing over little jokes or a found similarity. One of the girls I talked to, Frankie, had been in my CSAP group the year before, as well as two other girls that I had seen at CSAP. Dillon, one of the boys that my friend and I met, introduced us to some of his friends, as well. You could immediately tell that some kids bonded with others really well. They were all friendly, and we socialized for a few minutes before the teachers yelled out to go talk to someone new. There were all ages of high school kids there that day, some shy, some open and talkative. A lot of them seemed as clueless as me as to how the year would turn out. “I have no idea what this year is going to be like,” I said to many of them.
“Don’t worry,” they usually replied, a knowing smile on their face. “I don’t either.” It felt good to know that whatever happened, there were other kids out there who could support me because they really understood what I was going through.
Other social aspects of K12 are the threaded discussions and Class Connects hosted by our teachers. A threaded discussion is a place for students to go and talk about hobbies, movies, books, and even school related things. While the teachers monitor these discussions, students have free range to talk of whatever they like without having to answer questions and prompts of teachers. Class Connects are like online chat rooms where a teacher can answer questions of students regarding school work, and students also have a chance to interact in these settings. “Meeting” other kids online is more comfortable, eliminating the embarrassment and awkward silences of meeting face to face for the first time. And it is always really cool to meet someone at a social event and say, “Hey, I talk to you on the history threaded discussion!”
People have often asked me what it is like to be part of an online school. Most of them don’t realize that just because I am schooled at home does not mean that I do not have any friends or that the work is too easy. I am always delighted to see their faces take on a surprised look as I tell them that I do indeed have many friends through my school, and that the work is very challenging. I work from eight o’clock in the morning until almost three o’clock in the afternoon, completing lessons in algebra, literary analysis and composition, physical science, physical education, world history, and fine art. Although sometimes I do wonder what it would be like to go to a public school. While it might be nice to be in a setting with so many other kids my age, I enjoy being at home in my day and being able to create my own work schedule. The bottom line is, I think that schooling online is a wonderful way to learn because you can work at your own pace in your own home. While you don’t have a ton of interaction with other kids all day long, there are plenty of opportunities to make new friends.
Being part of an online school has been a great experience for me. I love how uniform it is and how much easier to organize than homeschooling. All of the students are different and unique, and it is really great to get to know kids of all ages. The school work is challenging but often times enjoyable, and it teaches me how to be self motivated and driven in life. All in all being part of K12 has opened my eyes to new experiences and learning techniques that kids should continue to benefit from.
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