Here at PALCS, we are so grateful for all of our wonderful families and hardworking students. Being a cyber-school, we reach families across all of Pennsylvania, and each family has their own story to tell and reason for coming to PALCS. Recently, we had the opportunity to ask a some PALCS parents to tell us about their experience with PALCS, if they have faced any challenges, and to offer advice to any prospective families. Let’s see what they have to say…
How long has your family been with PALCS? Can you briefly describe your experience, so far?
Rasheena P. – “A little over a month. We’re still adjusting but so far so good!”
Barb K. – “This is our first year! Amazing! From our first orientation (which I was actually crying tears of relief) we have felt very supported by everyone.”
Trisha C. – “This is our first year in both PALCS and CPFA, and it has been a pleasant experience. I was a nervous about giving Dominic so much freedom with his academics and he does fall a bit behind, (really this semester because of all of the New York rehearsals). The teachers have been wonderful and supportive, there is really a lot of help just a mouse click away.”
Fangqin J. – “A year. It’s very good, teachers are very nice to Haozhou, when Haozhou need help from them, they can help him right away.”
Aileen M. – “We have been with PALCS since Lionel was in 8th grade. PALCS has had its ups and downs. Overall as a program it is very welcoming to students going at their own pace, and that is something that Lionel very much enjoys. However, the experience hasn’t come without its road bumps. The amount of time Lionel has to do school was cut in half with CPFA, plus with his out of school opportunities (which were one of the reasons we chose to homeschool in the first place) there was definitely a steep learning curve. Lionel doesn’t claim organization as his greatest skill, and so sometimes having 30 or so things left to do at the end of a marking period would create extra stress. He thinks students should be able to move at their own pace with the end of year as their final goal – but overall it has been a great five years.”
How has PALCS made a difference in your child’s and your family’s life?
Rasheena P. – “It’s helped build her confidence and lessened the pressure and steer of needing to fit in socially at school. For kids who suffer from medical trauma it can be challenging to balance both health/body image and socialization.”
Stacie L. – “PALCS offers parents the gift of extra time with the kids. I’m thankful for that. We used to be incredibly busy with activities and errands, so much so that after school time started to resemble the dreaded morning rush. With PALCS, we have neither and it’s nice to just have time to enjoy with the kids.”
Barb K. – “Tyler feels much better about himself. Went from a C/D student to straight A’s. We are all much less stressed.”
Aileen M. –“Lionel likes to study his own areas of exploration and being able to do school from anywhere in the country, and at times that worked for him has allowed him to have experiences he never could have in a brick and mortar school. He has attended online cyber chartering schools to receive a balanced education that matches his peers, and still been able to do lots of other projects and learning experiences when many of his peers are stuck in the schedule of brick and mortar schools.”
Was it difficult switching to a cyber-school coming from a public school?
Rasheena P. – “PALCS made the transition very easy. So grateful for their support.”
Barb K. – “No, it was very smooth”
Aileen M. – “We weren’t in public school very long. Lionel hasn’t been in public school since he was in 1st grade. So it was a breeze.”
Stacie L. – “Yes, and no. The yes has to do with the ONLY two questions people ask you when you mention you are considering cyber-school. The first question I usually get is, “Do they sit in front of screen all day?” My answer to them is, no they don’t sit in front of the screen all day. They finish their work and then we go and play and have fun together. “What about the social? They can’t miss out on the social.” I always answer the question about socialization with a question, “What would you say if I told you that most of the socialization in traditional schools is detrimental? Do you remember Junior High School? It’s worse now.” The rest was easy. PALCS made enrolling, transferring, and sending books and equipment so SO easy. I’ve been surprised that neither of my older children have asked once to return to “regular school.” At ages 12 and 13, I thought they’d miss their friends, but it turns out that the kids are so connected through devices now, that face to face in school isn’t needed to maintain friendships.”
Were there any challenges, and if so, how did you overcome them?
Rasheena P. – “Technical issues that were easily resolved with the support or remote assistance!”
Barb K. – “Not really, we knew that we had to stay disciplined. We are not computer-knowledgeable but the orientation and on-boarding was very helpful.”
Stacie L. – “The largest challenge I had was to find space in my house for each child to have a separate learning space. For Rhett, I repainted a playroom wall like a chalk board and redesigned the whole room like a classroom. It has a reading area, art area, etc. The older two have desks in smaller areas that mimic “tiny classrooms.” I knew that sitting at the dining room table or on their bed wouldn’t help them be successful. All my kids need organization to thrive. It took a little time to complete, but now is working well for them.”
Trisha C. – “The biggest challenge for Dominic is staying focused on one assignment at a time. He likes to attempt to do several at once and sticking to a schedule has been a big help.”
Aileen M. – “Sometimes technical challenges arise due to a bad internet day, or a power outage – and because Lionel is super busy, sometimes getting everything turned in before a progress check ends has proven challenging. Organization has always been the key to getting it all done – or asking for help from the counseling office. Organization has been a learned skill though, as it doesn’t come naturally to Lionel.”
Do you have any advice to family’s who are considering switching to a cyber-school?
Rasheena P. – “If your child is very independent and self-sufficient this is the right program for them.”
Trisha C. – “The advice I would offer to new parents or students is to adhere to a school schedule and utilize the help classes and after school homework help. I think cyber school is a look into what college will be like.”
Fangqin J. – “If your kid needs special education or just like Haozhou’s situation [professional musician], you really should switch to Cyber School.”
Lionel M. – PALCS Student”Make sure you find lots of social opportunities outside of the cyber charter setting so that your child feels comfortable engaging in one on one, face to face communication. Take advantage of opportunities to get away from the computer and take “adventure” days – since schooling from home makes it possible to do that! The great thing about cyber schooling is that you can do it overlooking the beach, at the top of a mountain, or from your bedroom. If you have a play deadline in three days, you can take a break from school to finish it – and then jump back in and get all of the school done in time. There aren’t walls or boxes, so love the freedom of it all.”
Stacie L. – “Of course…
- Cyber-school isn’t the dark and scary place most people make it out to be. Go with your gut. Research and base your choice on your child, not what others think. Just because brick + mortar school is what always has been done, doesn’t make it the best the way. We are in a global world with no walls. Why educate our kids to think inside the walls? If you think cyber school works for your kids, but all you hear from the people around you are scary “don’t do it” stories, ask yourself why you are looking into it in the first place.
- Ensure your child has access to extracurricular activities on a regular basis. This is essential, especially for younger children.
- Organization is KEY, for the parents, for the child, and for the daily schedule. We have a time schedule for breakfast, snacks, lunch, and chores. This helps the kids plan out the days ahead of time, which include class lessons.
- Teach the kids how to keep their own schedule/diary. They will all have different class times. Let them choose which classes they will attend and help them plan out the larger assignment with the use of a schedule/diary book.
- Understand the parental role is to help and support but not to teach. The teachers employed at PALCS are amazing and always willing to help.”
Thank you to all of our PALCS parents, we truly appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions, share your story, and offer our prospective families some feedback and advice!
If you are a prospective family, I hope this helped give you more insight as to why some of our families are choosing PALCS. If you would like to compare PALCS and other schools, visit Niche.com. If you have any specific questions, or would like to learn more, don’t hesitate to contact us!