Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why we chose A.L.E.


If you've never heard of it, I'm sad to say google will fail you. You'll get results on beer, logistics, Antarctica even. But if you google:

Alternative Learning Experience, then you get a whole host of info. 

In this post, I'm going to talk a little about our experience, the who's, where's, why's, and how's.

When Kaiden was two, I joked about home schooling him. The schools in our area were dreadful. So bad that we received a letter for our oldest telling us that her school had failed its report card, and that we had the choice to transfer her to another school in the district. However, all the other schools had failed theirs as well. 

We didn't really feel we had a choice, home school it was.

For the first year we went on our own. With a few workbooks from Costco and the internet, we banged together a fourth grade curriculum. We also discovered  few issues, her previous school had not taught them the multiplication facts. We knew there had been issues, no spelling tests, no math tests. 

So we had a smart, but now lazy, kid on our hands. 

I started researching and found out about A.L.E.'s. 

Our kids could get a wonderful education, at home, and still be a part of the public school system. 


First we tried WAVA. 

Washington Virtual Academy uses K12 curriculum. To be honest, we were a bit overwhelmed at first. When our boxes arrived they weighed in at 180lbs, for only two kids. 

We trudged through Kindergarten and Fifth. Not really clicking with the curriculum. I think it's a wonderful set up really, it just wasn't working for us. Kaid was quickly drowning in phonics, but excelling in comprehension, math, science, and history. Sarea was lost when it came to math. 

I started to watch a little closer and realized something, Kaiden was dyslexic. 

Phonics and dyslexia don't work together so well. We looked into whole language approach. Still nothing, he was a pre reader and wouldn't budge. His doctors claimed it was the school districts responsibility, the district claimed it was his doctors. So I did what any worried mother does when she has access to the internet. 

I googled.

During one of my googling sessions, I happened upon a woman who had not only a dyslexic son, but a dyslexic granddaughter. She told me to stop stressing out, to stop frustrating him. Let it go.

She told me that with her son, she just let him be, encouraged him, but didn't push him. At around 7, he started reading. He still had problems, but it was much better.

So as hard as it was, I did. We put phonics on the back burner, we focused on other area's and treaded lightly on reading. When he was seven, we had a breakthrough. His grandmother bought a flashcard set of sight words. We started working on them every night. All of a sudden, he was doing it. Like a light switch had been flipped. He was still at K level, but he was READING.

Now a year and a half later, Kaiden will be starting a gifted reading program. He went from a Kindergarten level to a Fourth grade level in a year and a half.

He is going into third grade, but he is in an accelerated fourth grade math program.

This program has been a godsend for us. Columbia Virtual Academy, the options we have for our kids education is just phenomenal.

So we turned our dining room into a school room and never looked back.

I'm not saying that home schooling four (sometimes six) kids is easy. But it's a decision we didn't make lightly and it's worth it to us. And we have  moments like this:

And we get to do fun experiments all the time.

I get to see that "aha" moment when they understand something. I get to learn how their brains work and it is so amazing.

Quote of the day:
"STOP LICKING ME!" Said to the almost 13 yr old...

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