Online school

The kids started online school today and so far so good. You can choose which subjects they study and they each have seven. Classes are live via video link and they’ve all been reasonably small. I think the biggest class they’ve had so far had only 12 pupils in it.

One of Daniel’s subjects today was computer science and they were learning about binary numbers. This is not something he’s had the opportunity to study at his regular school so I feel like he’s getting new opportunities he wouldn’t otherwise have had. He was visibly excited during this class and came and explained it all to us afterward. It warms my heart to see our son excited about binary numbers.

Elizabeth is learning Latin for the first time ever now too. This is not something offered at her regular school but it was an option at the online school and she’s always wanted to learn it. I have no idea why. I think she just likes being a clever know-it-all. She’s also taking drama which is another new subject for her. It’ll be interesting to see how they manage that in an online environment.

Most of the teachers set activities for the pupils to complete after class and these get handed in through the online system. It’s very easy to see what work has to be done and by when and then what grades they get once it has been marked. Pupils can also message their teachers at any time. There are clubs the pupils can join, schoolhouses, common rooms, and a weekly school assembly.

I’m impressed so far and it has taken a lot of pressure off Ben and me. We are both working full-time and don’t have time to homeschool as I’m sure is the case for many other parents. The online classes give a nice structure to the day, they keep the children learning, and they’re motivating in a way that giving homework on its own is not, which is what is currently happening at state schools in Scotland. I heard the reason for this is because they don’t want to disadvantage those students without access to a computer at home. My view is they should figure something out for those disadvantaged students, like lending them a laptop and providing WiFi, rather than letting all kids miss out. This is what the New Zealand government is doing: they are providing internet and laptops to 70,000 students. The department for education in England is doing the same. I am disappointed that Scotland is not doing anything similar. Hopefully, they are just a bit behind the ball and this is still to come. But a computer and WiFi on their own is not enough. There needs to be live video classes with teachers. I know from working from home for 6 years how important live meetings with my colleagues are.

Elizabeth did her first Highland Dance class today via video link. It’s not as good as being in a studio but it’s better than nothing and keeps her dancing. She seemed to enjoy it. Both kids have also been continuing with their music lessons online and that’s been working well. There is a surprising amount of stuff you can participate in without having to physically be there.