The virtual school environment is not for everyone, but for some it is the perfect fit. Rebecca Klaeui is the mother of three teenage daughters who have been exclusively schooled through Idaho Virtual Academy (IDVA) since kindergarten.
“I was on the fence for a number of years before my oldest daughter began kindergarten,” Rebecca said. “I was interested in schooling at home, but I was concerned about my ability to do that well. IDVA was a great alternative, since there has always been support when we ask for it.”
When Rebecca first came across the K12-powered online schooling system while researching virtual schools, she thought it looked like a perfect fit but was concerned about the costs for her family. She then discovered that as a public school, IDVA has no tuition.
“I was very excited to proceed,” Rebecca said. “One of the most important factors to me personally in the decision to school at home was the desire to be closely involved in my children’s education. Even as they master independent learning, I am still there each day to teach as needed, answer questions, and provide support. The rewards have been incalculable.”
Rebecca and her husband aim to foster a lifestyle of lifelong learning with their children.
“We agreed that it was critical to have them in an environment that encouraged their natural curiosity and was challenging enough for personal growth without being overly frustrating,” Rebecca said. “Encouraging them to follow their individual passions for learning has been very important to us, as we believe that paves the way for a pattern of lifelong learning.”
For the past 14 years, Rebecca and her husband have asked their daughters if they wanted to try a different method of learning and they always say no.
“They each have been encouraged to delve more deeply into areas that fascinate them,” Rebecca said. “I treasure watching them all pursue things that catch their attention and fuel a drive to learn.”
Virtual school helped prepare Rebecca’s oldest daughter, Caitlin, for her first year of college. Caitlin graduated from IDVA in 2015 and is currently a pre-vet student in the honors program at the University of Idaho.
“My veterinary science and chemistry classes are definitely weed-out classes – they’re designed to see which students will put in the effort and truly want to go for this major, and which students are going to drop in the first couple weeks because of the difficult assignments,” Caitlin said. “Since I’ve been doing school in an environment where I have to be on top of things and take responsibility for knowing material, it’s already second nature to be prepared for tests and assignments, to take good notes in class, and to ask for help when I need it.”
Rebecca’s middle daughter, 15-year-old Maia, is currently in 10th grade at IDVA. She enjoys being able to work ahead in classes.
“I’m currently taking college chemistry and AP literature and composition,” Maia said. “All of my education here is really going to help me when I graduate and go to college.”
The youngest of the Klaeui sisters, 11-year-old Silvia is in sixth grade and appreciates the flexibility of her classes.
“I like that if I get sick, I can keep on working at my own pace so I don’t fall behind,” Silvia said. “I also like that I don’t have to get up really early or rush to leave the house each day.”
Rebecca is happy that her daughters are getting an “excellent education” without the distractions of a traditional brick and mortar school.
“The girls were able to move ahead at their own rate in elementary school,” Rebecca said. “Even at the high school level, where classes are more paced, there is ample opportunity for more challenging learning, including AP and concurrent credit classes.”
The support that the Klaeui family has received up to this point and in the future is what keeps families returning each year to the thriving virtual learning environment.
“I appreciate that all the teachers are there to support the girls, whether they are excelling or having a rougher time with a subject or unit,” Rebecca said. “The teachers are always available to help them succeed. We have received a lot of support when necessary with developing an individualized plan when it was clear that something was not working for one of the girls.”
Rebecca also hit on the topic that many virtual school parents get questioned about: socialization.
“One of the more pervasive myths about at-home education is that the children run the risk of being poorly socialized,” Rebecca said. “I find the opposite to be true. The girls have a wide variety of interactions with children of their own ages, as well as younger and older kids. They also have plenty of contact with many fine adults they can look up to. This diversity of human interactions and activities has allowed them to simply enjoy being their own age, while simultaneously encouraging growing up. We have enjoyed watching them grow at all ages and stages of development.”