Thursday, July 3, 2008

CVA - Banking Hours


CVA no longer requires that you keep track of school hours, with the exception of high schoolers seeking a Washington State diploma.  Instead, they assume you are meeting the required hours if your student is making progress as determined by weekly contacts, monthly reviews, and annual testing.

I mentioned in my last post about Columbia Virtual Academy that we are required to do school a certain number of hours each week. So, what do you do if you're sick or you know you will need unscheduled time off during the school year? Well, you bank hours.

Banking hours is CVA's way of allowing enrolled families have control over their time while still meeting the state mandated requirements for how much school alternative education students must complete. Basically, you do extra school now so you can take time off later.

There are two ways you can bank hours. One way is to do a little bit of extra time each day. Over time, this can add up to enough hours to take a day or more off. You could plan on doing an extra 30 minutes a day. Assuming you do this five days a week, after four weeks, you'd have enough banked hours to take a week off. Another way is to do school during scheduled vacation, holidays, and weekends so you can schedule your time off when you want it rather than according to the school's schedule. There are several time periods you can chose from including August, December, and spring break in April. Regardless of how you bank hours, it is a good idea to try to bank at least some time.

To some homeschoolers, doing 10, 20, or 25 hours of school each week might seem like an awful lot of time to "do school" and now I'm suggesting that you do even more. Relax! It is easy for most homeschoolers to accomplish this because CVA makes counting hours flexible and easy. Depending on how you've written your learning plan, you may be able to count independent reading, personal writing, educational games, watching educational TV shows/videos, outings, chores, helping mom cook, and playing outside towards your hourly requirement. Both the state law and CVA realize that there is educational value in activities beyond seatwork and direct instruction, thus you are allowed to count these other activities provided they are in your learning plan. When you take a broader perspective on what is "school", finding these hours is considerably easier.

Your next concern might be how to keep track of all these hours. Again, you can relax. CVA does not require you to have a log of what you did during each minute of your school day. My advise would be to keep it as simple as possible. If you keep an eye on the clock, you'll know about how much time you've spent on language arts, math, history, science, reading, PE, etc. and can write down your daily total. As you get used to watching the clock, you'll come to know how long you usually spend and will only need to keep an eye on days that don't follow your normal pattern. Even a disorganized, relaxed homeschooler like myself can get a sense of how long each subject normally takes to complete and keep a basic log of daily hours.

Reporting hours, banked hours, and used bank hours is easy. Each month, you simply answer the question, "Do you meet the required number of hours for the past month?" If you've banked hours, you can chose "yes" and provide a note of how many hours you're banking. If you've used banked hours, you can chose "no" and provide a note of home many banked hours you used. CVA makes reporting easy.

While I was initially worried about CVA telling me how much and when to do school, I found it to be a benefit in practice. Up to this past year, I was regularly in the habit of skipping school. This led to feeling like I was failing at homeschooling because I knew how much we didn't do school. Occasionally, my husband would step in and suggest we get back on schedule. With the requirements in place, I may still take time off or skip a day but the requirement keeps me from getting too far behind. Another benefit I found of the required hours is that we actually completed all of our curriculum in a single year, which means I won't be starting next year feeling behind and needing to catch up. I can't tell you how good that feels.

Stumble Upon Toolbar