A Day in the Life of a Parent

Moving your child to home-based public education at PA Virtual will be the hardest job you will
ever love!

While all of our families are different, they all share the same desire and commitment to improving educational opportunities for their children. Time management and structure are key components for a successful student! Below are some descriptions of what PA Virtual means to our parents, in their own words. Some of the many positive aspects of PA Virtual, from a parent’s perspective, include:

  • Receiving a schedule of classes daily and weekly
  • Learning along with students
  • The ability to track student progress
  • Learning coaches can help teach each child in a way best-suited for his or her
    learning style

Elementary School – K-4

Anita, Lackawanna County
PA Virtual Pioneer Parent Since 2001
Students enrolled: Abigail, Third Grade, Rachel, Tenth Grade

I begin each day with a cup of chai tea, made by my father-in-law who happens to be an early riser and excellent tea maker. While I enjoy the tea, I check emails (both personal and school), go over my third graders schedule for the day, look at assignments and grades for my 10th grader, check my calendar of events for the day, plan meals, eat breakfast and then spend some time in prayer. We try to start school by nine o’clock each day, but many times little interruptions will get mom off to a late start.

This does not seem to be a problem for either of my children since the tenth grader may have already logged into a live class and the third grader is usually eager to get started by herself.

My third grader generally starts her day with what she considers easy subjects: spelling, vocabulary, grammar, science, history, art, and music. We take a one-hour lunch break and then she completes her least favorite subjects Literature, Composition, and Math. What can I say about Math except that it is not a household favorite, and definitely the subject that has given mom the gray hairs during our years with PA Virtual. On the flip side, the subject I found to be my favorite and a favorite of all my children is History. We still have notebooks filled with handwork sheets that show a chronological progression of History as taught through the online school. Sometimes we enjoy looking back through those notebooks and reviewing the things we have learned. And yes, even mom has learned new things.

On most days we are finished by three o’clock in the afternoon; however, many times this gets extended due to classes being held later, or too many interruptions throughout the day. Although no day is exactly the same, one thing I can always count on is logging into school and receiving a schedule of classes for the day and the week. What a great help!!!!!!

Another thing that is an enormous help to the students and learning coach are the online classes held each month. This gives the students time to interact with the teacher and other classmates and gives them some time away from their normal schedule, with a lot of interesting subjects being covered. It also gives mom time for herself or to concentrate on another student. PA Virtual is the right choice for our family because it helps me to give the children a well-rounded home education.

Intermediate School – 5-6

Sandra, Lancaster County
PA Virtual Pioneer Parent Since 2001
Student enrolled: Seraphina, Fifth Grade

After many years being part of the PA Virtual family, what motivation would there be to continue? Perhaps it is the world-class curriculum, maybe the flexibility and portability of the lessons that allow the children to pursue interests that require work outside the typical brick and mortar style school or the fact that the school works. The answer is all of the above.

The oldest of my five children is self-motivated and she loves to delve a little deeper into some subjects. The assignment expectations for her only needed to be communicated about once a week and typically they would be completed.

The next child also enjoys working independently however with his learning style it was important to have a basic structure to avoid getting frustrated and overwhelmed. In his case we would make a daily schedule that would be very similar each day; math first, then history, then literature, break for lunch and some outdoor activity and then in the afternoon complete morning assignments and do the English assignments of grammar, literature, and composition.

The next two children also had different learning style that required us to be “hands on” and consistently work together to be successful. Working together with math manipulatives such as base ten blocks, pattern blocks, geoboards and analog clocks as well as having time to read aloud to each other proved invaluable in ensuring the work was completed timely and the new concepts were actually learned.

And finally, there is the fifth child who learns in a much more creative style. For her having a loose schedule that allows her to direct each day differently is the best method of learning. Typically she will complete math and spelling in the morning and then enjoy writing her English assignments and reading her history in the afternoon while saving her literature novels and stories for night time reading. Her schedule allows her to take her piano in the morning and have lunch with her sisters in the afternoon as well as making lunch for our elderly neighbor some days. The obvious omission to the classes would be science. Science was taught mostly on the weekend by dad. Not only did each child enjoy a different teaching style, they also enjoyed the special time with dad!

PA Virtual has allowed each of my children to learn in the style that best suits their needs and each one of them is becoming a student who understands the power in learning.

Middle School – 7-8

Therese, Erie County
PA Virtual Parent Since 2002
Students enrolled: Luke, first grade, Andrew, third grade; Grace, sixth grade, Claire, eighth grade

There is never a truly “typical day” in our lively home. Each year, as our family changes in size, needs, and interests, the landscape seems to change. The landscape for our past school year included the summer birth of our sixth child, the introduction of our fourth child into Kindergarten, and my decision to accept a year-round coaching position at a local high school. Here’s how a day seemed to boil down (this is very general, as I did not include the constant daily interruptions of pre-school drop off/pick up, piano lessons, doctor appointments, diaper changing, etc.):

6:45 -7:00: Our house wakes up! My husband, Mike, faithfully has a pot of coffee brewed and breakfast out as the kids descend on the kitchen. With a cup of coffee in hand, I start up my computer – checking my daily calendar, schedules for my kids’ live Blackboard Collaborate sessions and conference calls that day, my email inbox, and then reviewing the daily courses listed on the Online School (OLS) for each of my four school age children.

7:30: While the children eat breakfast, Mike gets each of them started on Math. I use this time to prepare any necessary items the kids will need that day.

8:00 – 12:30: As each child finishes Math, I go over their daily plan with them and get them started on their next subjects. My preference (although not always that of the kids’) is to cover the core subjects first; especially those which we work with every day. The older kids are able to take their work to their own preferred learning spot (this can change throughout the year) where they mostly work independently – seeking help when needed. I remind them of upcoming Blackboard Collaborate sessions and trust that they log on at the proper times. By the time, my kids reach 5th or 6th grade, they learn to be pretty autonomous with their schedules.

My little guys require more one-on-one, so we find a quiet place, either on a coach or at a table (subject depending) and we set to work. Typically, while one boy works with me, the other plays with his younger sister, keeping her happy and preoccupied in another room. At the completion of a subject, the two switch places. Most days, they get a break between each subject.

12:30: We break for lunch – this is my time to tidy up the kitchen from breakfast and to prepare lunch. When we are done, the kids alternate cleaning up the lunch dishes and head back to work. Often the small kids have finished all their work, or need to cover one or two short tasks.

12:20-2:30: While the older kids finish up their work, I might set the younger kids up at the kitchen table to paint or to work on another art project. If the weather is nice, I send them out in the yard to play.

2:45: I am off to practice, leaving our oldest in charge until Mike is able to get home from work – usually by 3:30.

4:00: Kids set off to their seasonal sport, in which they participate on teams with local school kids.

6:30 -10:00 pm:  All of us are finally home, dinner is prepared and served, and evening chores begin (kitchen duty, or bathing little ones). By 8:00 pm the older kids are settled down with books to read to the younger kids. At around 9:00 pm, we say our family prayers and get everyone into bed. The older kids are allowed to stay awake to read or draw in bed.

10:00 – 10:30: Over a cup of tea, Mike and I reflect on our days and unwind. On a good night we can get to bed by 10:30.

High School – 9-12

Sophia, Philadelphia
PA Virtual Parent Since 2005
Student enrolled: Kyra, Tenth Grade

While bells ring aloud, indicating that old but familiar signal for many nearby brick and mortar students to line up to resume classes; something very unique is happening throughout the local communities.

Nestled securely inside the household of this family in Philadelphia, computer laptops are being turned on making ready to log in on Blackboard for daily school lessons.

The use of modern technology at its best has allowed the ingress for properly managing the attendance for virtual students while at the same time reflecting a good example of edification.

The astonishing aspect about this tech-tool is that it safely guides the students promptly into a classroom setting. Once students are logged in to the class they are greeted by other classmates. As they begin to interact and manipulate the tools, which allows for them to communicate one can only but notice the intense eagerness to learn.

I give tremendous credit towards the professional skilled and caring teachers. The interaction between students, parents, and teachers is simply awesome! The lines of communication are effective and it extends even further if should the student desires extra help.

My daughter Kyra is a high school student in the tenth grade. She independently follows her course schedule accordingly. Kyra maneuvers her workload quite well on her own with the reassurance of knowing that I as her Leaning Coach and mentor am nearby if should she require assistance.

Kyra is a very confident and an excellent student. Her grades are phenomenal! I love being a part of her education. This opportunity for having to experience an alternative education has built an even deeper appreciation for me.

On a day-to-day basis I am actively involved. I gather with Kyra weekly to plan in advance her goals towards higher education. We are able to measure the outcomes as she completes one task after another.

The structure of the lessons is completely implemented by way of the virtual school with teachers. This makes it even the more valued. Kyra someday will become an Obstetrician. She has a good head start because of this unique education institution.

I ought to know because just over a year ago my eldest child graduated from the PA Virtual Charter School. He graduated with high honors and is now enrolled at Walnut Hill College. He anticipates graduating in 2012 with an Associate Science Degree in Restaurant Management.

It’s a privilege to belong to this school.