“If he was going to have to be online learning, I wanted it to bestructured and prepared for him...so that he could do his very best.I wanted to give him his best chance at learning.”Jacqueline Mandler, regarding her son, Hudson.
(Transcript available below)
START OF TRANSCRIPT
Heidi Higgins: Hi there. I'm Heidi Higgins and you are listening to K12 On Learning. After two years of pandemic driven decisions and constant instructional adjustments where school administrators have recognized the need for online learning and/or hybrid learning, parents are still concerned about the consistency and educational growth for their children. It makes the decision to enroll in any school challenging right now, but leaves open the possibility that online and hybrid schools are here to stay. In a recent national survey conducted by Stride Incorporated nearly half of education leader survey think hybrid learning will become the new normal. You already see it now consistently at the university level and with large and small businesses. Many offer the option of working from home.
This pandemic forced accommodation is holding on and providing more choices for families than ever before. Today, you're going to meet learning coach Jacqueline Mandler and her kindergarten son, Hudson. Jackie is my daughter and little Hudson is my grandson. Jackie was schooled online for years with the K12 school. She's all grown up now, has a college degree, is married and very busy with her two little children. It was in this school year though that she found herself kind of surprised that she needed to make the decision where to school her kindergarten aged son. She and her family live in Missouri. They intended to send him to the neighborhood school. She's new to the area and her husband's work keeps him away on an irregular schedule. So schooling at home would've been difficult. But COVID numbers and requirements to keep the students safe in school changed often. Her local school district has the option to school online with the Missouri Virtual Academy, but only after a student has attended that traditional school for a year. But this year they made an exception and Jackie and her husband decided it might be best to enroll their son in the Missouri Virtual Academy. I'll let Jackie and Hudson share their story.
Jacqueline Mandler: Last year when not only were being in a pandemic but my first child was going to kindergarten, I was in a state that I wasn't fully familiar with, and I didn't have a whole lot of support around me and deciding whether or not I felt safe sending him to school or keeping him home, or if it was... whatever the situation was, what was best was really hard. And I was unsure in every decision I was making. My husband was tired of listening to it, but I honestly had no idea what to do. And I was really concerned because it was my first time going through it. And it was in a pandemic just to add on top of it. I put everything out on paper and weighed the options. It wasn't necessarily pandemic wise it was the biggest deciding factor for me, other than the fact that when they went to online learning frequently was he going to get the education he needed? I didn't want him to not get the full education he deserved because they couldn't be consistent. And knowing what happened in the beginning of 2020 with all the students going online and teachers scrambling and there being gaps in holes and figuring out what was happening, I wanted to avoid that. If he was going to have to be online learning, I wanted it structured and prepared for him so that he could do his very best. I wanted to give him his best chance at learning.
When schools went in 2020 to online learning, I watched my mother-in-law who had been in teacher in the traditional brick and mortar school for over 25 years work night and day to make online curriculum for her students. They hadn't done that before. It had always been in the class. And moving to online was hard. But she worked really hard for her students and because of it, most of them did okay. But there were teachers who didn't have the same kind of knowledge and understanding of online programs as she did. And the testing score showed that students did not do as well from that semester being home because the setup wasn't there. There wasn't the curriculum provided online. Teachers were writing it left and right as fast as they could. And it just wasn't the same as what they had in traditional school.
And so the next fall, obviously, parents pushed for students to be back in school because that's what the teachers knew. That was what was best. But with the pandemic getting higher in numbers students were in and out of school. So now it's the second year of school. It's my time to be enrolling my student. What do I do? Do I send him to the school and have him come home every couple weeks and have two weeks of online learning where the reality is there probably won't be a whole lot of learning during that time?
Or do I find a structured online curriculum that's been tried and tested for many, many years that he can get a full education until he's vaccinated or the numbers go down or whatever happens? Do I go with something like that I know he's not going to have gaps at the end of it because it was created specifically to be done at home? And it was a hard decision because I had never planned on having him online. I was online school myself and I loved it. That's part of the reason why I chose the curriculum that I chose is I knew it and I knew it worked, but it hadn't been something that my husband and I had planned on because of my husband's career. I wasn't going to have him as much of a support. And so I didn't know if I was going to be fully capable of online schooling son.
So it hadn't been part of our plan. But as it got closer to school and the pandemic was still hot and the school situation was still very volatile we both felt very directed to having him online so that there wasn't going to be a gap. My son loves to learn. He thrives off of new information constantly. It's been a little hard answering this little six year old boy's questions all the time, but he needed education. He loves it. And we didn't want him to have gaps because the school couldn't provide for the online learning.
As the school year has gone on obviously we chose to have him at home and we've enrolled him through MOVA, and he loves his teacher. He loves his classmates. He's thriving in the curriculum. He's growing so fast. I've been able to watch the local district to kind of see what's happened with them and what would've happened had I had him in the traditional brick and mortar school. They've struggled. The students are not having a consistent education over there. They've used all their snow days for the year. They've had online learning at least six of the weeks of the school year so far that my kindergartner hasn't had. He has had consistency. He's had a structured education. He's had a teacher there to guide him who is trained in online learning. And he's had classmates to go along with him.
And I don't feel like he's missed out on anything that he would've at the traditional school, except for the chaos of not knowing what was coming and what was needed based on the pandemic situation. Are we wearing masks this week? Are we not? Are we in seat? Are we not? Do I get to see my teacher on Monday? He hasn't had to worry about those things. All he's had to worry about is what he's learning and how to grow in his education, which was very important to me that he had consistency and a solid education for his first year. The stepping stones, the important stuff, the foundation of his learning, he needed the consistency and this online school has provided that for us.
Heidi Higgins: Do you think it made a difference because you were an online student as well as far as lending to your willingness to put him in an online school?
Jacqueline Mandler: I think it prepared me to know what to expect a little bit that I knew I was going to have to be structured on my end for him, that I was going to have to create a routine at home for him. It's pretty cut and dry. It's easy to figure out. It's laid out for you. They have many helpful sessions. The teachers and staff are extremely helpful. So I wasn't worried about the difference. I was willing because I loved my online education. I enjoyed being able to complete my work and not have to be stuck in a chair all day. And like I said, my son loves to learn. Some things have come pretty easy to him and it's been nice that he hasn't had to sit and go over and over and over again to get the concept down because he's got it.
We can move on and he can have all the time in the world he wants to play with his Legos and his sister. It's also been fun watching him teach his sister. From my experience, having seen that it worked for my family and knowing the quality that he could have because I experienced it, I do feel like that made an influence on it because I knew that there was going to be structure there where there wasn't going to be if he had to go virtual from the traditional brick and mortar school. I knew that the curriculum was set up. I knew it was created by professionals, and I knew he was going to have the teacher guidance that he needed that was trained for online learning because I had been through it myself.
I think my husband was hesitant because, like you said, he was raised by a teacher and he didn't ever experience the online school. But within the first twoweeks, he said, "Wow, this is pretty cool. This is interesting." And it was really fun. I had him help Hudson one day with school. Hudson loved having dad be a part of his education. I've been mom all this time and everything that he learned that day with his dad really stuck. And he talks about to this day, "Can I do school with dad today?" "Dad has a day off. Can dad be the one that teaches me these things?" And it's so fun to watch my husband be involved in something that he wouldn't be able to if he was in a traditional school because of his career.
Heidi Higgins: What would you say to anybody else who's considering putting their child in and pandemic, yes, pandemic no?
Jacqueline Mandler: I think making the decision for how to educate your child is a really hard one. There's going to be voices left and right. There's going to be people telling you you're right, you're wrong. I made the decision that I was going to have him online. And I went to go talk to the school about it. And even then it made it more confusing because they talked about what they were going to do and how things were going to work. And I thought, "Am I jumping the gun? Am I being too worried?" But I did feel good about the online school for more reasons than just the pandemic situation. I was excited for him as a kindergartner to be able to maybe have a little bit more time to be a little boy still. I felt like the online school provided him opportunities to go and travel the state with the school and to see things that he wouldn't be able to see.
He's been able to be to Kansas City and St. Louis and a few other places with his school this school year, things that I don't know that he would be able to traditional wise. I think if you're thinking about it, there's a reason. And if there's a reason really ask yourself what's important in the situation. If you're not sure if the traditional school is right for you, look into the other options. There's lots of options. And this is a really good one. And options like this provide that piece of mind for parents who need something different.
Heidi Higgins: Thank you so much.
Jacqueline Mandler: Thank you for having me.
Heidi Higgins: I thought you might want to hear from the kindergartner himself. Can you share with us your name?
Hudson Mandler: Hudson Mandler.
Heidi Higgins: Nice to have you here, Hudson. How old are you and what grade are you in this year?
Hudson Mandler: I am six years old. I'm almost done with kindergarten.
Heidi Higgins: That sounds great, Hudson. Can you tell me what school you go to?
Hudson Mandler: Missouri Virtual Academy.
Heidi Higgins: So that sounds like a great place to learn.
Hudson Mandler: I love my school.
Heidi Higgins: Oh, I'm glad to hear that. So you work from home. Are there teachers that help you with your work?
Hudson Mandler: Oh, I have four. Mrs [inaudible 00:10:54] she does art and Mrs. Falcos does music. And Mr. Pluff does exercise. And the fourth one is [inaudible 00:11:06] but she's sick today. So she didn't make any classes.
Heidi Higgins: Oh, I hope she gets feeling better.
Hudson Mandler: Mrs. [inaudible 00:11:18]. She is at any time teacher. So she does it time like before the afternoon or she could do afternoon. Also I have two more teachers and one does sometime dancing videos and sometime normal videos. And I had one other teacher today. I like working with my teachers. I like that they teach me things that I don't know and teach me sometimes things I already know and teach me more and more about the things I don't know.
Heidi Higgins: What kinds of fun do you have while you're in class?
Hudson Mandler: Did I have the social times one today? Oh, yeah.
Heidi Higgins: Well, social time sounds like fun. Do you have friends in your school?
Hudson Mandler: Yeah, like I have a lot. And I think like four days ago there was one new one.
Heidi Higgins: Hudson, can you tell me how your mother helps you with school?
Hudson Mandler: Well, actually she's with me in everything. My mom is right there to help me with school.
Heidi Higgins: Oh, you are so lucky to have someone who loves you that also helps you learn. I happen to know you love science. Can you tell me what you did in a recent science class?
Hudson Mandler: Yeah, it said put a glass of water out in the sun and then put a mirror in the glass of the water and then hold a paper there. And then the sun will shine on the mirror and then it will reflect the rainbow on the paper.
Heidi Higgins: Oh, I heard about this. And you haven't had any sun out yet.
Hudson Mandler: But it's still in winter.
Heidi Higgins: Okay. The sun will show up one of these days and I bet you'll see the rainbow. That sounds like a great science experiment. I hope it works for you. Let's talk about one of your history lessons. I hear you've been learning about a famous statue in New York City.
Hudson Mandler: The Statue of Liberty. And sometimes people call it Lady Liberty.
Heidi Higgins: Oh, that's a great one. Who gave that statue to the United States?
Hudson Mandler: France.
Heidi Higgins: That's right. And I heard that you learned a new word. Who is the statue supposed to welcome?
Hudson Mandler: Immigrants.
Heidi Higgins: You got it. I hear that you're really enjoying learning how to read. In fact, in your literature class you were encouraged to find a new book and your mom took you to the library. You chose a pretty difficult book you brought at home and I heard you read it cover to cover.
Hudson Mandler: All on my own. I read the whole thing to daddy with no help that time.
Heidi Higgins: Well, congratulations, Hudson. Woo hoo. Reading that first book cover to cover, that must have felt very good. So proud of you. Thank you for listening to K12 On Learning, sponsored by Stride. To learn more about the online public schools powered by Stride K12, the Stride career prep program that fosters lifelong learning, or any private school or individual course offering, please go to k12.com or stridelearning.com. Special thanks to [Tri kaye 00:14:48] Studios LLC for writing the music for us. We hope you'll subscribe to this podcast and leave us a good review. Join us again next week for K12 On Learning!
END OF TRANSCRIPT
Meet a Leader in online education.
See why over two million students have chosen Stride K12-powered schools.