An online middle school student shares his experience about switching to virtual school and how it brought his family together. family bonding, virtual school, homeschool

A Student Writes: How Virtual Schooling Brought My Family Together

By: Beth Werrell
Virtual school family bonding over breakfast.

Each year, Mrs. Chandler asks the students in her eighth-grade language arts class to write a personal essay describing what home means to them. It’s just one of the ways she teaches narrative writing. This year, she received an essay that describes a student’s first experiences at Connections Academy so honestly and articulately that she asked if we could share excerpts in our blog. With thanks to student-writer Jared Davis, here are some of our favorite passages from his essay.

Making the decision to try virtual schooling …

“After I finished my fifth-grade year [in a traditional school], my parents discussed the option of virtual schooling. Mom, the critical thinker of the group, came up with the idea, while my dad, the optimist, agreed and anticipated great results.

On the other hand, my sister and I had some reservations. … [We] were wary of the changes that were about to happen. We didn’t want to leave behind our friends and the familiar atmosphere of [traditional] school.

It felt like I was playing tug-of-war with my emotions. I contemplated the options in my mind. The thought of less stress during the day made this possibility seem like a dream—although the nightmares began when I started to think about how I would do in the new learning environment.”

Jumping into a new adventure with the entire family …

“Early one morning in August 2011, my mom and dad boldly jumped right in and helped my sister and me with our lessons. They provided the necessary support that we needed to be successful in our new school adventure.

How many parents do you know that would put on safety goggles and dive in to help with a science experiment? My parents fit this description perfectly! The close interactions between each member of the family made [our] bond stronger than ever before. As we encountered problems, we worked through them together.

The first few days of school, I felt like I was sinking in quicksand! I remember struggling, but with my parents’ support, I made it through triumphantly. We’ve laughed and cried together through this virtual, home-based school.”

Keeping old friends …

“After two months of rigorous learning, my family had adjusted to the new school experience. Then I realized that I could still keep my same friends and have the benefit of completing my lessons in the safe environment of my home. As I continued to see my friends on a regular basis, we had chances to meet and play competitive games of soccer.”

Gaining a safe haven to learn …

“[Now that I was learning at home], there were no more bullies, the popularity games had ended, and the everyday drama subsided. I was no longer in the den with hungry lions trying to devour me, but instead I finally found my safe haven. My parents no longer had to worry about my learning environment, and I finally realized that this was the perfect learning scenario.”

Valuing new experiences; getting results …

“[Virtual schooling] has provided many stimulating and innovative opportunities, like interactive lessons and the well-thought-out field trips. This has helped my family value the new learning experiences even more. My sister and I both tend to agree that this was definitely the right decision for our family. We have witnessed many benefits. Our PASS scores have soared upward, we have a better understanding of the material being presented, and there is more time for extracurricular activities!”

Appreciating home, school, and family …

“The decision [to attend a virtual school] helped me appreciate this place I call home. Over the course of three years with Connections Academy, I no longer see my home as a place to only eat or sleep, but instead as a place to learn, explore, and, most importantly, have fun with my family. Mom helps keep me on track, and Dad is there for support and the occasional joke or two.

I wake up each morning and face the day with the knowledge that my family is beside me each step of the way.”

Has virtual school allowed your family to spend more quality time together? Tell us your favorite memories!