We received this class and compensation from Bridgeway Homeschool Academy in exchange for an honest review of our experience. I did not have to write a positive review, and all opinions of our experience are my own.
When we were first given the opportunity to try homeschooling online with Bridgeway’s Student Learning Labs live classes, Olivia and I were both very excited.
Since neither of us really had any idea what to expect from the experience, I think what had us most excited was the topic of the class — rainforests. Olivia loves exotic places and likes learning all she can about them. I was just happy she was getting the opportunity to do something she would love.
And that’s where the similarities end. Now eight weeks later, we both still have our own reasons for loving online homeschooling, and they really couldn’t be more different from each other.
Three Reasons Olivia Loves Online Homeschooling
The social aspect – My girl loves to be social, and even though we go to co-op, church activities, karate and regular park days and field trips, she just can’t get enough. When asked, getting to be and learn with the other kids in class was her favorite thing about the experience.
The class included sharing time for each of the kids to share their weekly assignments and the teacher, Mrs. Thomas, was great about giving time to anyone who wanted it after class so they could talk about their dogs or their week. Despite the distance aspect, there really was a class camaraderie present.
The teacher – Hey! It’s not Mom. (Olivia did soothe my spirit by also mentioning that it wasn’t one of her other regular co-op teachers as well.)
Olivia’s love of people means that meeting and interacting with anyone new is a great thing, and it helped that Mrs. Thomas was especially personable. She went out of her way to make herself “real” to her distance students by sharing photos of her family and her own dogs.
The topic – I am not an expert on rainforests. In fact, I am typically not interested in the rainforest at all. But Olivia is and consumed the material presented.
She especially loved the movies and multi-media Mrs. Thomas presented each week. More than once I heard her sharing information about rainforest plants and animals with her brothers. She loved it.
Three Reasons Mom Loves Online Homeschooling
The ease – Not only did I not have to spend hours researching a topic I didn’t particularly care for, I also didn’t have to present the material. Mrs. Thomas’ enthusiasm for her topic made Olivia excited too — I never could have faked that.
I think it is vitally important for kids to get to learn about things that interest them, and that’s why I think this kind of outsourcing is so important. Olivia got to learn from a knowledgeable, excited teacher, and I got bonus time to fold laundry (yay — I think).
The teacher – Yes, I love the teacher too, for a slightly different reason than Olivia. It didn’t take me long to notice how exceedingly patient Mrs. Thomas was.
A virtual room full of kids all with different computers, equipment, and abilities, and she would patiently wait for each and every one of them to indicate their understanding of the task at hand before moving on.
She dealt with the inevitable technical user-errors and the regular off-topic comments that come in a classroom with patience and aplomb.
The technology – I think one of the biggest benefits to online homeschooling for kids Olivia’s age is growing familiarity with the format. Distance learning and online classes are only going to become more common over the next decade or so.
I think the younger we can start kids with the benefits of this format, the easier it will be for them to feel comfortable with it and take advantage of online learning as they get older. If distance learning is a natural, comfortable way for a student to learn, then it will open up a world of opportunity for them in the future.
Bonus: Three Things to Help Make your Online Homeschooling a Success
The orientation – Bridgeway Homeschool Academy offered an orientation for all students to come and test out their equipment and connections and meet Mrs. Thomas prior to the first class session.
I can’t stress how important this was for us. It allowed Olivia a chance to see what things would be like, and gave us the opportunity to check out our equipment and work out any kinks ahead of time.
The equipment – We were fortunate that my laptop has a built-in webcam, but we’ve had great success with an inexpensive Logitech webcam as well.
We used the Apple Earbuds w/Mic that came with my iPhone. They worked because they have the built-in microphone, but honestly they weren’t very comfortable for Olivia. She was much happier when we switched to the Plantronics USB Headset about halfway through the course.
The attitude – If I had been the student, there were times when I would have been very frustrated with the pace of the class, as people took time getting logged in and their equipment and user issues worked out. These things didn’t really seem to bother Olivia or Mrs. Thomas.
They both sat unruffled as all the kinks were worked out the first few weeks and class got underway. I learned from them that attitude is a big part of making distance learning a success.
For them the group learning experience was worth the minor hassle of getting everyone going in the same direction. If you have a child who is impatient or easily frustrated by technical limitations, maybe this kind of classroom is not right for them. My kid found it fabulous.
Bridgeway is offering readers a free learning and personality style assessment, valued at $39.95, for your child. Once you complete the assessment, you will receive an individual profile filled with strategies to set your child up for lifelong success.
Also, when you register for a Learning Lab before May 30, 2014, you will receive $20 off when you use promo code IHN514 at checkout!