I am a mother of four children, two of whom are enrolled in Wisconsin Connections Academy, the state’s public K-8 virtual school. My decision to do this was based on a number of factors. My oldest son, 6, is very bright and thoughtful, but has always had difficulty in social situations. He is easily overwhelmed by crowds and tends to withdraw, and I knew he would need help and extra attention to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. My daughter, 11, had been in the public school system from the beginning and was struggling as well. I knew that she was not getting the help she needed to keep up in math, for example. Also, the social stresses at school were affecting her self-esteem, and she was losing her desire to challenge herself. I began looking into virtual schools.
I have been a long-time supporter of public schools and a fierce advocate for involving parents as partners in education. Yet I also came to realize that bricks-and-mortar schools could only go so far toward individualized education. Virtual schools, like WCA, provide the perfect opportunity for children to receive personalized education. WCA provides a public school education using state-certified teachers who work directly with learning coaches to bring personalized instruction.
It is schooling at home, not home-schooling. While they sound similar, there is a huge difference. With WCA, I am the learning coach for my children, but they learn a state-certified curriculum, just like kids in bricks-and-mortar schools. They have desks, books and computers. We even have a Smart Board in our basement that we use on a regular basis. We go on field trips and have opportunities to meet other families who have similar stories about how they came to WCA.
My son is simply thriving. He is excelling in math, reading and language. He is even learning Spanish and teaching it to his 4-year-old brother! Similarly, my daughter has improved tremendously. Her enthusiasm for math and science has returned, and she is now scoring above average in math. Because the whole family is involved, everyone has the opportunity to participate in lessons and learning activities throughout the day.
Virtual schooling may not be the best fit for everyone, but WCA works for my family. As ours, and thousands of other families in the area, looks ahead to the school year, we’re filled with anticipation. My kids may not board a bus for school or need a brand-new lunchbox, but they’re just as excited for a new year with a renewed sense of learning. We have WCA to thank for that.
Katey Luckey is a Merrimac resident and the mother of four children.