The Mercer Family enjoys a day at a national park.
Rachael Mercer is the mother and learning coach of four children at Georgia Cyber Academy. Here she talks about her family’s experience at GCA:
As the learning coach for four children, my days can be exhausting. However, Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) has given each child in my family the opportunity to specifically explore their own interests while still meeting the requirements set by the State of Georgia.
I chose Georgia Cyber Academy for my children because I knew that public schooling in the brick and mortar classroom – a one-size–fits–all model – wasn’t working for our family. With four children, we knew that traditional homeschooling would be too expensive. Instead, we happily use this charter school model, which provides all the traditional learning tools for my four children.
Setting Goals and Staying on Track
With each year comes the ability to give each of my kids just a bit more responsibility. The first year we used GCA, we printed the “Daily Plan” and each child had to mark off when they’d completed each assignment. The second year, two of my kids had a monthly calendar and two of them used the Daily Plan. Last year, all four received monthly instructional calendars (MICs) and were largely responsible for their own assignments. This year, that will continue – and so my kids are becoming more and more prepared for college and time management.
My kids also set goals for themselves for the year. In 1st grade, my daughter wanted to learn the Gettysburg Address. She started learning it around March 1st, and by the first week of May she stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and recited it for a group of Korean War veterans. It was fantastic and such a fun experience for her.
What I’ve Learned
I have learned that the kids do need SOME structure and oversight. I don’t just turn them loose. By 8:15 every morning, we’re working. We break for lunch, and I’m trying to incorporate some PE time where they get to ride bikes and scooters after lunch.
We have long days, but we take a week off here and there for vacations, for learning trips, etc., and then we also finish the school year much more quickly than our counterparts in brick and mortar school!
I have also learned that I’m not going to stress my kiddos out about “the test.” If we teach with the goal of our kids to LEARN rather than just PASS, everything will happen when it needs to.
We tell people all the time that what we require and what we receive from GCA is flexibility with accountability. I don’t mind the test at the end of the year, as long as it comes with some flexibility – because “school” is just one of the ways that we are learning, along with volunteering, serving others, and developing interests as well.
The most rewarding part of being a learning coach at GCA is seeing each of my kids excel in their chosen areas.
For my oldest, Payton, who will be 15 and in 10th grade when school begins, his interest is aviation. He volunteers weekly during the school year at the National Museum for the Mighty Eighth Air Force, attends weekly meetings with the Civil Air Patrol, and is a leader with the local 4-H group.
My second son, Owen, who is 13 and entering 8th grade, loves nature. He hosted a booth about Spanish moss at the Savannah Earth Day Festival, regularly works with the 4-H group, and more.
Nathan, my third son, is entering 5th grade and loves history. He knows more about the Civil War than anyone I know. Last year he placed 6th in the 4th grade social studies fair. I love seeing his excitement and anticipation about the day when he will begin volunteering with the park service at Fort Pulaski, and he is also excited to join Civil Air Patrol.
Melinda Kaye, my 8–year-old entering 3rd grade, wants to be an artist and went to an open house for Savannah College of Art and Design. She also has the great opportunity to tag along on some of her brothers’ extracurricular activities.
Without question, GCA has been the right choice for my family, and I don’t know where we’d be without it.