Well, CVA is starting to aggravate.  I’m not quite sure what’s changed, but I feel like the work:benefit ratio is definitely tipping to the left of the equation, and I’m not satisfied about that.

I was going to do a pro and con list, but when I started to break it up that way, nothing fit in one category.

Requisitions: A Painful Waiting Game

So when you want to order curricula or books or whatever, you create a requisition on CVA’s website.  It goes through a crazy process (watch a video about it here!) and eventually they order it for me, and then it gets delivered to me.  Sounds easy, right?

We received our awesome Usborne Encyclopedia of World History that we requisitioned.  And it only took 3 1/2 weeks from the time we ordered it. :/  I do love this book.  But since it’s a book, we have to return it to CVA when we withdraw.

I also requisitioned a Handwriting Without Tears workbook on 10/14. And it’s been over a month, and we still haven’t received it.  A month?  Seriously?  Why?

We received our Time4Learning subscription, and it only took a little over two weeks! <end sarcasm>  Seriously, it takes over two weeks for an online subscription?  This is a resource that is on their *definitely ok to use curriculum* list, so it’s not like they need to review it for content.  If I had been paying out of pocket for this resource, I would have had it in a matter of hours.  Instead, I had to wait two weeks only to be deeply disappointed.

Side Rant: Time4Learning?  Time4Boredom

So yeah, you could say I’m NOT a fan of Time4Learning, so thanks CVA for footing the bill so that I could figure that out.  🙂

Silas has done some K-level language arts and some K-level math.  I’m just not impressed with this site/curriculum at all.

Maybe I’m spoiled from Reading Eggs, but this is the most un-user friendly kids’ learning site I’ve seen.  For one thing, there is no linear quality to it.  I can’t just get to the “start” page, and turn him loose.  I have to be there, navigating it for him (often with 5-6 clicks from the start page to an actual game), and then again between every exercise.  Not only is this disruptive for me, but it takes the power and control out of his hands and makes him feel dependent (not to mention it breaks his concentration if I can’t get to it *right this very second*).  Unless your child can read well enough to navigate this site alone, I don’t recommend it.  And maybe not even then.

Another pet peeve is that the exercises are way. too. repetitive.  Kids don’t want to learn one skill per exercise and repeat it 100 times (ok, so not 100 but trust me, it’s too many).  At least not my kid!  He’d rather get the skill introduced, practice a few times, and move on.  The key is to then have those skills integrated into other exercises so that he gets an iterative experience.  He shouldn’t have to *prove* he groks the idea of chance 15 times in the same exercise!  So when this happens, he gets mad and says “I don’t want to do this one anymore!” so I come over and finish the 10 other questions with the same answer so that he can move on to another, different exercise.

If there were a way for me to go in, select the games/exercises I think he would like, and then have only those available from one start page, it would be a vast improvement.  But as it is, I cannot recommend this product to friends.

I do recommend Reading Eggs (which CVA does not currently fund).  Even though Silas is taking a break from it right now, it’s easy to navigate, has a tolerable amount of repetition, and is very engaging.  In fact, it’s so engaging that my toddler will often stand next to Silas while he’s doing it and watch it as if it were a cartoon!  I wish they would expand to add some math and science to their program. 🙂

So back to CVA…

There is also a library that we can request materials from, which is cool in theory.  Except that I think these materials are on indefinite check-out, so if you want something that’s checked out?  Better luck next year.  We’ve received one book from the library so far (the teacher’s guide for the workbook that still. hasn’t.  arrived.)  I had 3 other things on hold, and they sat there on hold for about two weeks.  Then I received an email that they messed up, and my holds were now being processed.  Um, ok?  Thanks?

So, in sum, here’s how it’s gone so far:

Materials provided by CVA to our family: one book (3 week wait), one online month-long subscription (2.5 week wait), one library book, one field trip to Experience Music Project (paid for 1 adult, 1 child)

Silas rocks out at EMP in Seattle!

Materials provided by me to CVA: 5 weekly reports averaging 800+ words each, taking approximately 1 hour per week to complete

Not sure that this really seems like an equal relationship.  Now, theoretically, they provide more.  For instance, if I wanted to do all the leg-work to get an instructor on board to be a Community Based Instructor (CBI), then they would theoretically pay for 1 fine arts class and/or 1 PE class per week.  I have it on good authority that we can make this work for a gymnastics class for Silas.  Still looking for a fine arts class that would work.  But it’s still leg-work on my end, forms to get signed and faxed…

What do you think?  Do you unschool?  Would you try working with a system like CVA?  Why or why not?

I’ll leave you with some Halloween good stuff!

Philosophizing Husband as DJ Lance Rock and August as Brobee!

Silas as the Grim Reaper and me as Death's Mama