July 6, 2023
The recent United States Supreme Court rulings rejecting affirmative action in higher education and the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan have put higher ed in the news. However, the focus on the K-12 space continues to ramp up over its ever-changing landscape, in which the once-controversial education choice narrative is becoming more mainstream to the American way of life. Parents in the U.S. are gaining a new appreciation for the range of options they have for schooling their children, and it’s impacting those who are new to the country as well.
Looking at education options in a new country
Originally from Ireland, Rosie Greaney Copp and her husband and five kids moved to the United States last year. They are no strangers to searching for the right fit for their children’s education. After home-schooling their oldest for a stint while traveling, enrolling their child in an international school in Portugal, sending their kids to public schools in Ireland, weathering a pandemic, and moving to a new country, Rosie investigated all schooling opportunities when they came to Utah.
She looked at private schools, public schools, several types of public charter schools, and home schooling. While searching online about education in Utah, she found information about American Heritage School – a private school that incorporates the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the time, the school was promoting its new option, an online platform that helped parents with a form of home schooling called LiftEd, which piqued her interest.
Copp always pays attention to where she feels guided to send her children to school; she studies her options and prays over the decision. She consistently looks for schooling options that are a mix of unique features that check boxes in her children’s education, including teaching life skills, allowing students to excel with flexibility outside of a standard curriculum, and rigorous academics.
When Copp was researching American Heritage School’s options, she was juggling a newborn and a toddler, and she lived too far away from the school’s in-person campus. LiftEd, however, intrigued her because she wanted to see if she could home-school again but this time with the support of their online platform, and so she began using the option.
Day-to-day experience of using LiftEd online homeschooling platform
LiftEd instruction takes place Monday through Thursday. For the Copp family, school lasts about four hours in the morning, ending at around noon, when they then often leave the house for the rest of the day. No classes are scheduled on Friday so families can have time to meet with others. Other families in the area using LiftEd can get together as often or infrequently as makes sense for them. Very often that is where the creativity comes in: Families can join for arts, sciences, or even outings like going fishing.
During the week, LiftEd teaches academic topics with a faith-based principle attached to it. Their program also offers a library of home-schooling resources that families can use with it – for instance, in English, math, geography, and beyond, some of which is in video or written format.
Copp also uses supplements like Teaching Textbooks for math, which helps with testing her son’s answers, and IXL, which she uses for English help. LiftEd allows families to use as much or as little of the platform as fits their needs. It is not supposed to create the pressures or expectations of a school but provide a “bridge” of support for parents until they figure out exactly what they want to do. Copp said that LiftEd is there to facilitate mothers and fathers who want to home-school but are afraid to try it.
As a mom with several kids, she likes that she does not have to sit down with the kids the whole time while they are learning. She can do laundry, clean the kitchen, and give assistance or validation when needed. The support of the platform allows her to home-school while also being able to keep up with other aspects of family life.
How structure and flexibility meet their needs
While LiftEd content is ultimately a private school online, it is structured so that families can adapt it to their family life for whatever version of home schooling works for them.
For instance, when Copp’s family moved midyear, they simply took a week off. Sometimes they miss Zoom calls depending on the family need or schedule. The platform is simply there to support families.
Likewise, before Copp’s daughter had surgery to get her tonsils removed, the swollen tonsils caused her to have a tough time sleeping, resulting in a feeling of being in fight-or-flight mode all the time. During this time, Copp’s daughter had no interest in learning to read, though she worked on other subjects. And Copp did not pressure her to read. The moment after her daughter got her tonsils removed and started feeling better, Copp said, her daughter just started reading books. Her daughter more than fully got caught up with learning to read, but it came from her own desire rather than being stressed to learn on a certain timeline.
In addition, LiftEd prompts projects for the students to complete. Sometimes, Copp’s kids would realize they did not have the materials needed to complete them. But Copp learned that the prompts were not requirements. She helped her children understand they did not have to complete these projects. If they did complete them, they did not have to do it at the same time as others in the class.
Importantly, she explained, they were not going to get in trouble for doing the projects in their own way and timing, an idea they had been conditioned to worry about when they were in school if they were not keeping up with the other kids. Slowly, the projects started happening naturally over time, when they wanted to complete them.
Barriers and obstacles
One of the main obstacles to choosing something like LiftEd, according to Copp, is the mental barriers, like the fear that you are going to mess up your kids – in some ways you would rather your children be in a school environment and fail than be in your environment when they fail.
Another observation she made for parents who are starting down the road of home schooling is that in-person schools tend to be quicker at starting off teaching kids because of systems and organization they have in place, but the progress in learning slows down. Whereas with home schooling, parents may have a slower start in creating their home-schooling experience as they put together a system, but the pace of student learning picks up.
Additional thoughts for parents interested in LiftEd
Copp said parents who might be interested in LiftEd have nothing to lose. The tuition for her is worth the mental peace of mind of having what they need to teach their kids. And for those who want something values-aligned, everything they learn on LiftEd is connected to a spiritual concept. Her kids feel accountable for wanting to be a better person. She has noticed her kids wanting to do more service for others. Furthermore, she said having the LiftEd content in their home can make parents better because the content overheard in the home is so profound. At this point, even if she were to use a different schooling option, she would choose to always include LiftEd as well.
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