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When things go wrong

So far our homeschooling journey has been without major incidence. We’ve hit all the major developmental milestones within the normal timelines. The kids, now teenagers, can read, write, and do math. I feel pretty secure in their abilities. However, there are somethings that are required by the charter school we are in. They are the same things one encounters in public school and most independent study programs. These are the required courses- for us the issues are with biology and mathematics.

Our charter school offers several ways to meet these requirements. We can take the kids to the local junior college. Courses are available online via an virtual high school. They can work with a tutor, if they don’t mind not meeting the A-G preparatory guidelines set up by the four year universities. In our case this means the University of California and California State University systems. 

We chose the online high school. This seemed like the most efficient and streamlined way to go. The boys both like computers and are pretty savvy about them. They both like math and science too. Going in it looked like this was a no brainer. It started out that way too. It didn’t stay that way. 

My older son took the first semester of biology before the younger one. The class worked with an online book, power point lectures, and websites. He dug right in and had fun. The instructions were clear and easy to follow. There were a few glitches but they got handled quickly. 

When my younger son started, it was different. The class units were numbered. However, when my son went to work, he found the links for unit work took him to units that were later in the sequence. They even had other unit numbers on their labels. The URLs he was directed to use went to pages with fancy titles and no text. Forms had the wrong number of charts. He reported these shortcoming to me on the verge of tears.

I wondered what had changed from one semester to the next to create this all to real online mess. I decided to take a look for myself. So I sat with my son as he worked on reading unit texts, and watching the lectures. The interactive images were very cool but information was missing. He would go to do the worksheet only to find the sheet was about something else. We ended up doing our own web searches to find the answers.

I felt his frustration ten fold. I’ve taken online classes and never encountered this many problems in a single class. I wrote an email to the administrator of the program and related to her the obstacles and errors in this class and the math they were taking too. It appeared to me to a bigger issue since the math class was little better. 

I was so enthralled about my own success with online learning, that I didn’t consider that my kids may not have the same experience. Granted user error is only part of what is going on, it is a big part when my son’s get ramped up, angry, frustrated, and depressed. We chose to homeschool in part to let learning be a natural and rewarding process with as little stress as possible. This is not the case with out current situation.

The wig-out factor is really high. I spazzed to the max on this. I was pretty hard on myself. What are we going to do? They are ruined for sure!  It felt so desperate to me. What if my kids can’t get into a four year school because of this? 

WHAM! It hit me right in the forebrain. I’d become the high scope pushy parent I never wanted to be. I didn’t want super kids who graduate from college at age 12. I didn’t want kids who felt a constant pressure to succeed academically at all cost. How did I fall back into that old way of thinking? It didn’t matter how I got there. It mattered that I saw it for what it was.

In the calm that follows a significant showing of emotion, I remembered. We are homeschoolers. There is always a new way to do something. We have the ability to change whenever we need to. We can also let go, forgive our mistakes and move on. I spoke to my husband, our kids, and our charter teacher. We came up with a new plan that fits our kids, our choices, and our lives. 

When things go wrong don’t worry. Look at the situation, really see it. Come to a consensus on a solution. Put that solution to work and let go of the rest. Be sure to forgive yourself and anyone else who you feel you need to, then move on. Wrong isn’t bad, it’s just something that isn’t working for us. Nothing more, nothing less.