School of MacDonald via K12 iCademy

I tried one day of free for all “let’s learn about whatever we can find” home school, and quickly realized it was not going to be enough to satisfy my kidlets or me.  A neighbour drove us to nearby International schools to get information about registration (as immigrants we are not permitted by the Ministry of Education to enroll our children into the public school system).  They were full, or really expensive!  I had been informed about K12 iCademy before we left Canada, and had it in mind in the event I would need more support.  It wasn’t hard to decide that we would stick to the original plan and go ahead with the K12 Home School program.

Why homeschool you ask?  I am not experienced, and honestly I am scared about the quality of education my kids are going to get from me.  For the area we’re in (not really knowing how to get around), with the desire to travel (lots of pulling out of school), and the low price (compared to private school) we felt this was the best fit.  Besides, if I ever track down the Beginners Arab classes, I may learn something too!

The kids definitely work at their own pace.  Kirsten likes to be done early, and she wakes up early so she hits the books first thing in the morning.  She had a subject done before I even got out of bed.  Lilli and Jaron, however, need quite a bit more encouragement to stay focused on the task at hand.  They won’t pull a book off the shelf until my uvula is ringing like a school bell.

My biggest pet peeve with the program right now, is that they claim to supply you with everything you need.  Whatever is not supplied is mentioned in a “Materials list” in the Advanced Prep section of my daily or weekly schedule for each child.  The irritating part is that this list only mentions the material they actually do provide, not the materials they expect you to have “lying around”.  For example, Jaron’s math activity required paper clips, not a big deal I substituted blocks (they provided those).  Kirsten was asked to draw and paint a landscape with watercolors…but they don’t provide the watercolor paint, or all the brushes, or the paper even!  Another few items that keep coming up are index cards and notebooks.  Guess what, I missed the “back to school” sales.  You think I could find either of those?  Not to save my life.  Not even a 3-ring binder and loose leaf paper!  For most of the other stuff, I don’t find out the kids need it until they are half way through a lesson, then it’s off to the University Bookstore, nearest grocery store or next shopping excursion to Dubai and they are left in limbo unable to move on in their course.  Most other schools supply a list of additional materials, why not you K12, why not you?

Let’s talk about the material.  It is set up fairly idiot proof.  Each child has a Daily and Weekly Schedule link.  When you follow this link you are provided with a list of courses (core and elective) that your children are enrolled in.  You can adjust what courses show up for what day, and hide courses they may be favouring to allow focus to be shifted towards neglected classes.  Each course lesson is setup like a slideshow, with links and prompts to videos, or interactive material for the kids.  Not everything is done online, and they are prompted when they need to take material “offline” and work on it on there own.  In the slideshow the required materials are listed for myself as the “Learning Coach” and for the kids.  I have my own set of textbooks with solutions and teaching tips to help me guide the kids, and they have their own textbooks and workbooks (mostly) to get through the lesson.  Most lessons are followed by a quick multiple choice assessment to see if they have retained information from the lesson.  This is a point where I need to punch in my password to unlock the slideshow allowing them to progress.  When they complete the lesson, I sign off on their attendance and they get a check next to the course completed.  They each have their own sign in that is monitored by their individual class teachers and homeroom teach contact, as well as myself.  So we are alerted if the kids don’t sign in for more than 3 days.

Your next question is going to be about socialization.  Well there is actually quite a community for the homeschool kids.  I’m constantly getting messages to attend events in the area with other K12 kids.  We have an activity coming up in early November, that will likely depend on my having a driver’s license or someone being available to drive us.  Though we may miss this one, they are happening all the time.  The kids have lots of opportunities to meet the other kids in their classes online in Classroom Connect sessions or Online Study Halls.

The Epicenter, that is literally around the corner from us, opened at the end of September.  The prices were out of our grasp at first and we were very disappointed we weren’t going to be able to send the kids there.  Some discussions must have taken place and the price structure was amended allowing it to be more reasonable for families with MULTIPLE children.  This is the reward the kids look forward too.  If they complete at least 4 courses they can go to the Epicenter during their open hours (which are different everyday).  They have a library/ quiet area (for quiet games and reading), a craft area, climbing wall, theatre/ music room, video gaming systems, ping pong, pool tables and skate park.  Adults are not encouraged to hang out (unless you work there).  So Kirsten takes them over, signs everyone in and they are basically running in all directions for 2 hours.

I really like the independence the kids have, while allowing me to be more hands on.  The last couple of years, with me in school, I have felt completely withdrawn and out of sync with what was going on in their school life.  I know it’s only been 1 week, but I think I’m going to enjoy this.

14 responses to “School of MacDonald via K12 iCademy”

  1. you are awesome! At one time I thought about homeschooling my kids but it didn’t work out. Frankly I was scared of the level of commitment it would take on my part. I wouldn’t worry about the quality of education, you’ll do great, and this will be memories the kids will forever remember!

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  2. I am excited to hear about your homeschooling experiences, I have been thinking a great deal about this lately. Especially since all my jobs tend to be when my kids are not in school and I want to spend more time with them when I am not working.

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  3. It is great to hear about your homeschooling experiences, I have be considering this lately.

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  4. Very Proud of you for doing this Lisa! Just found your link off of facebook, so I am making sure to follow your posts from now on. Look forward to the next one!

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  5. My husband recently accepted a position in Dubai, and I have the same plan. If I can find an available, close, quality, yet affordable school I’ll gladly enroll my kids, but it’s a relief that k12 is very available, and a good option without a waiting list, uniforms, early wake-up calls, and bus fare. Was enrollment pretty quick? Any advice on getting started?

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    1. So excited for the experiences you and your family will have moving over here! Enrollment was very quick. The books come from the states so they take about a week to 10 days to get here. I would contact K12.com right away if that’s the way you’re going to go. They will provide you with a list of items they need to complete the enrollment process. There isn’t a REAL rush on these things, just as long as they get copies of them soon after you do. If you think you may decide to enroll your children in Private school here they will need more items from you, so make sure you have contact info from their past schools in case you need transcripts or transfer certificates sent. They are all very helpful at K12, and have helped to make the process so much easier! Good luck with the move, and feel free to contact me with any other questions! Bon Voyage!

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      1. Thanks! I was going to wait until we got there to figure out the k12 stuff, but now that you mention it, I better contact them sooner rather than later just in case they need me to bring anything from the school here. We are about 6 weeks out from orientation so my questions and curiosity are approaching critical mass (what to pack, what to store, how much luggage is actually feasible in a busy airport with kids, how will we survive the LONG flight, will the visa EVER come through, how to get rid of all our belongings in a few short weeks, what will we need to get situated there, and of particular importance: will my sanity remain intact at the end of this massive relocation?) but as you can see, those are obviously off the topic at hand. Meanwhile, while it seems there is a good homeschooling community there, perhaps our paths will cross and we’ll be homeschooling buddies!

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      2. I feel your stress and uncertainty Lucia, I was only there 4 months ago! As far as what to bring…what do you like to do? We love to camp, but left all our camping gear and now it’s cheaper (not by much) to rebuy then figure out how to have our stuff sent to us. Good quality stuff is not any less expensive than North America for most things. GPS is a must purchase as soon as you get here. They have carts for luggage so load up – my kids were hanging off everything when we moved over and the people were so very helpful. We even brought our dogs! Our Visas took 6 weeks – ssshhh, but the company took care of everything. Stay in touch with your HR department to keep them motivated, or totally annoyed. They love there ink stamps here so make sure you have a stamp or you can’t move forward. Most of all, don’t stress. No one else here is really concerned about how long things take and you’ll hear a lot of, “No problem” as you’re freaking out. You’re coming at the perfect time, because the temp is actually very tolerable. This country is really in it’s infancy but growing just as fast as Bella’s baby Renesmee 😉 Lame reference, I know but it’s true. They are behind in some things, but quickly catching on. I am already totally in love with this magical place. You are on a great adventure with your family. With the right attitude this will be a great experience for you and your family, it already is for mine!

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      3. Haha, lame reference? Nay! I frequently think in random YA fiction references too. Speaking of which, when you first saw the futuristic the dubai skyline, did it not remind you of “The Capitol”?
        I’m relieved about the luggage carts and helpful people at the airport. And I agree that this is an awesome experience and I’m excited about the time of year too. It will be that much easier to leave since our destination is blue skies and sunshine as opposed to the current mid-winter chills.
        Thanks for all the advice, it’s been very helpful!

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  6. Well, just an update, they couldn’t get our immigration stuff in order for Jan, so the new start date is in August. I’m relieved it should be after Ramadan, and most importantly after everyone here finishes school (including my husband!). Oh, and after girls’ camp and youth conference, which I’m thrilled I wont have to miss! Sounds like you had fun at the Wadi, it looks like such a beautiful place!

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  7. “youth conference” we just had youth conference here at our new chapel in Abu Dhabi…

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    1. We are in Ohio right now so twe are super lucky to have girls camp in Kirtland, and youth conference will be in Palmyra. It’s so fun to be near church sites!
      Oh, i’ve been hearing about the new building in Abu Dhabi like crazy! How great! And from the pictures and articles it looks awesome!!

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  8. […] time since I last wrote.  I thought I’d give everyone an update on how I am doing.  We are still homeschooling.  Most of my classes are online.  I like sleeping in and doing my school work in my PJs… […]

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  9. […] to starting homeschool in the UAE.  I wrote a little blurb about our first week here so this next part is the Reader’s digest version if you don’t want to read a whole […]

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