Riverwest School Offers Help for Home Schoolers

homeschoolpic.jpgby Suzanne Zipperer

A new MPS school in Riverwest offers help to parents who are up to the challenge of home-schooling. Parents decide to home-school their children for many reasons, but the challenges they face are basically the same. These include finding a curriculum to use in instruction, ensuring the child has a daily regiment of learning, and providing enrichment activities. Home school associations can help, but they are made up of parents who faced the same challenges and may or may not have successfully met them. Gaenslen Virtual Home School, located within Frederick J.Gaenslen School at 1250 E. Burleigh St., is an innovative concept that combines both home schooling and the traditional classroom setting. Established as a home-school resource two years ago, it offers parents the option of working with a proven online curriculum or getting professional help with a curriculum they have chosen. The Virtual Home School is the only online school serving grades six through eight in Wisconsin. Children work with an established curriculum that meets Wisconsin State Standards and the ambitious Learning Targets set by Milwaukee Public Schools. E-teachers check assignments and ensure proficiency is met. A state-certified teacher and paraprofessional are available at Gaenslen Virtual to help parents and children. Should parents already have a curriculum, Gaenslen Virtual’s staff will assess it and ensure that it meets standards and prepares students for higher education. “The program is for parents who can meet the demands of home-schooling,” explains Joyce Jones, the teacher and coordinator at Gaenslen Virtual. “It is a resource, not a replacement. We aim to leave the control of the schooling in the hands of the parent.” Children are required to attend Gaenslen Virtual for a few hours at least twice a week. The remainder of the time they work on their home computers. A computer with Internet access is a requirement of the program. In addition to the online curriculum for the four core subjects (language arts, math, science, and social studies) the students may meet other home-schooled “classmates” in art, gym, and physical education classes taught on-site by specialists. Lunch and recess allow the children to interact socially with each other. As MPS students, children enrolled at Gaenslen Virtual have access to the free lunch program, bus tickets, and other MPS services. So who is the ideal candidate for Gaenslen? Jones says it is a student who already has been home-schooled or a student whose parents are committed to home-schooling. “It is not a program for children who are having difficulty in a regular school,” she explains. The parent must stay involved with the child’s learning, monitor it daily, and tutor. “Having one parent who can stay home to school the child is the ideal.” For more information call Rebecca Kassulke at 414/267-5708.
by Suzanne Zipperer