Adventures in Homeschooling – Part 3
Just a couple posts down I made the announcement that Hazel was headed to public school. I had reached out to the teacher, and did a lot of prep work to get things rolling. I turns out it’s only half true. We enrolled both kiddos in a public school called Tech Trep Academy. While it is technically a public school with all the same assistance and programs, it is done in a homeschool type fashion. There are several reasons we opted for this, not a small one being the new Delta variant of Coronavirus.
We live in Idaho, while our particular county has done an OK job of taking public precautions, the whole rest of the state has not. We aren’t ‘living in fear’ as it is often called, we’re living in facts. My kids have a strong possibility of hereditary lung conditions later in life and we do not know the long term effects of this virus. My gut feeling says it wouldn’t be good and I’ve learned to follow those guts of mine. It’s just not worth it to risk to me. Especially as there are virtually no precautions being taken throughout our state and our case loads are on a steep climb every day. I’m fortunate that Hazel agrees with me and that we found this compromise called Tech Trep!
Also, a strong fact is, I just don’t want to wake up and drive them the 7 miles to school every morning because I won’t be getting up even earlier to put them on a bus, either… One year at a time, right?
What is Tech Trep
Tech Trep is short for Technology & Entrepreneurship. It is technically a public school in Oneida School district. They receive funding from the state, have teachers for each student, and a whole bunch of support staff. The difference is, there is no classrooms, unless you want them. You can do a completely at home education, or you can pick pieces and parts to either online with a teacher or do in person in a local classroom. They have assistance for kids who need it in all different areas but the teachers are really there to support the parents as they choose how to go forward with their kids’ education.
Along with the safety net of support, each student has a stipend of $1,700 per year to use to buy school supplies. There is a list of items not covered, such as religious curriculums and furniture, but for the most part it is pretty open to the parents choosing. The funding is split up by semesters, so half of it can be used now, the second half after the new year. I was able to buy all of the kids’ curriculum for the whole year with the first half of the stipend, which was incredible! We’ve never had that kind of money to spend on school supplies. It sure makes things more exciting though! On top of the curriculums (mostly digital downloads) I was able to buy all of these supplementary items, plus a little more than hadn’t come before I took this photo.
I think it’s a little cheaper when the kids are so young so we are going to use the second semesters funds to try to get ahead a little with supplies that can be used for years to come as well as with their current unit studies. The big ticket items will be a microscope and a telescope. I’ve outlined their year to have some planets and microbiology units next semester to get them really jazzed about that!
I had originally enrolled Miles and Hazel in virtual Math and Language Arts classes. That way they can be with other kids and get a second opinion on all this math/reading/writing stuff. It’s a total bummer that it didn’t work out with the time slots offered but there are so few students in that age range that use those courses so multiple time slots just didn’t make sense (the ones offered had us waking up way too early due to timezone differences). It’s ok and we will roll with it, I was planning on heavily supplementing those classes anyway, now I’m just taking the lead again.
Along with Math and LA the kids will have a Science and Social Science class. I have found some really neat curriculums for those on Teachers Pay Teachers so we’re all very excited to kick those off! Those four are the only required classes by Tech Trep and I will submit what we have been doing in each of those every other week. Aside from that it’s recommended we do two electives as well.
Hazel has chosen a YouTube class and a digital drawing and animation course. In the Youtube she will be learning the ins and outs of using her voice to contribute to bigger conversations [thank you blogging world for giving me the education I need to be able to introduce that to her!] Look for a link to her channel right around the new year if you wanted to watch her learning in action. The Drawing and animation class is taken with a different instructor online and she gets to use a digital drawing tablet and is very excited to do her own work, separate from Mom!
Miles will be doing an art/P.E. class and beginning circuits in order to tame to powers of electricity, something he’s pretty interested in. I’ll handle the art stuff but the P.E. and circuits is basically him and James, I expect I’ll learn a fair bit from them both while doing that :D.
I want to keep the same rhythm we’ve worked with before where the core classes happen Monday-Thursday and Friday is totally different. In the mornings on Fridays we’ll be learning about some random life thing that doesn’t necessarily get taught outright, but maybe learned the hard way in life. Things like emotional regulation, mindfulness, empathy, and manners, among others. I have found these awfully gendered books and ironically, the art of manliness was bought for hazel at the recommendation of some other parents, and the care and keeping of you was for Miles, because of similar recommendations. Either way, they will both be learning from both books. I hate the titles but the content is fairly solid!
The third picture is a book series I am REALLY excited to dive into with Hazel called two truths and a lie (also happens to be my favorite ice breaker game!). She’s just learning about research papers and fact checking. The first bit of her Youtube class will be about types of media and truthfulness in media. She already uses Alexa to fact check her parents so we’re expanding on that. This series offers really wild stories and you have to decide if they are real of fake by fact checking them. Ethics in media and source checking was something that was BARELY introduced to James and I in school because the internet was so new. Now it’s a legit life skill that kids need to be learning. For her, it officially starts in 2nd grade!
The main reason Hazel wanted to try public school was so she could have the friends that come with it. Pandemic school is hard, not like normal home schooling at all. When you live in a tiny house and are used to exploring the world more, it feels too small. I get it. As soon as the first waves of Covid started minimizing due to warm weather, we started making an effort to be more social for her. We knew a little more about how we can effectively protect ourselves around others, so I started organizing monthly field trips for the local homeschool group and started a weekly masked get togethers for kids to start playing with one and other again. Hazel and Miles have made some good friends from that which seem to have scratched the social itch. I have the suspicion that, unless the vaccine becomes available for kids sooner than later, schools will have to shut down again and it might get small until my state starts taking proper precautions.
Friday afternoons will stay wide open so we can continue to do our field trips and have social time with other kids as feels safe and available. It’s nice being the one to put those together because I can outline masking requirements right away and we’ve got a little group of kids who consistently make it by so it doesn’t feel so isolating, like before we knew anyone in this town.
The field trips that I have been organizing are super cool, it’s also secretly for me to get a background on the city. I am designing them to give the kids a behind the scenes look at how a city is run. Our first one was to the Wastewater Treatment facility. It was stinky and gross and fabulous! The second was to Dworshak Dam to learn about one of the ways power gets generated in this region. Third we went to the local recycle center which was an awesome education on how this town is different from the last we were in, spoiler: it’s a lot different! The next one will be at the City Streets Department with them and the Parks Department and the kids will get to be up close with the trucks and equipment! Later on, when the weather gets cold we’ll move indoors with the Police and Fire departments, I think I’ll try for City Hall, the Water Center where clean water is pumped for the town. All super fun and super educational trips. Sometimes I think it’s more fun for the parents than the kids but then, home education isn’t just for kids…
It’s only the second week of our new school year (though we basically educate year round) and the kids have already made great strides. We kicked the year off with a week long trip to Chicago. The kids were the ring bearer and a flower girl in their cousins wedding so we made an adventure of it and hit up a whole munch of museums. they are a few days into our home studies and Miles gave himself permission to try reading and is catching on really fast! Aside from all the books and curriculum, being a part of Tech Trep gets us access to so many great apps so the kids have been diving deep into the world of computers! Scary! Fun!
I hope you have a lovely week!