This post is sponsored by Connections Academy. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
With school enrollment around the corner, I get asked quite often, “What school do your kids attend?” I explain that my son attends an elementary school near our home, but because my daughter is a competitive gymnast, she is enrolled in Texas Connections Academy of Houston, a virtual school.
9 out 10 times I’m asked, “Oh, so do you teach her?” To which I respond, “No, she has teachers for that! However, I am considered her learning coach, so I assist her with lessons as needed, proctor tests, and hold her accountable for her work.
Let me explain why we chose Texas Connections Academy of Houston (TCAH).
Before TCAH, my daughter attended a traditional bricks-and-mortar elementary public school. While we had no issues at her school, it just was not flexible enough. Four days out of the school week, I would pick her up from school and rush to get her to practice. By the time her practice ended, finished her dinner, did her homework, and bathed, it was 10:30 PM.
As a parent, I love to watch my kids do the activities that they are passionate about, but I secretly missed our family dinner times together. I noticed she was tired from the back to back schedule, but my daughter LOVES gymnastics – so we had to rethink middle school.
I knew some of the other gymnasts attended TCAH, so I started asking their parents questions, researched TCAH, and attended an info session. After meeting some of the teachers and learning more about TCAH, we decided let’s give it a try.
The one thing that stood out to me is that the curriculum offered is aligned with the public bricks-and-mortar school, therefore making it a smooth transition.
Here are four other key reasons why we choose TCAH:
1- Tuition-Free and Outstanding Curriculum
I didn’t have to do it alone or plan the curriculum. TCAH is a tuition-free online public school for students in grades 3-12. TCAH provides students with textbooks and materials. TCAH operates as an approved HISD campus charter and is accredited through HISD with several NCAA approved courses, which is essential for my daughter’s future collegiate gymnastics.
The curriculum includes core courses in math, science, language arts/English, and social studies for every grade. Electives are also offered at every grade level in a wide range of subjects such as languages, music, game design, digital arts, sign language, and more. TCAH also offers Gifted and Talented, Honors, and Advanced Placement courses.
2- Teachers and Licensed School Counselors
Honestly, the thought of being my daughter’s “teacher” was overwhelming. I like to be in control of things, but this is one area I did not want all the control. Talented, state certified teachers lead classes in their grade levels and subject area. Every teacher has a Bachelor’s degree, and many have advanced degrees.
TCAH program also includes licensed school counselors that are ready to advise students and families about academic matters, personal or social issues, college preparation, and career development. I knew she was going to get the support she needed when she needed it.
Being an optional gymnast requires many hours of training and dedication. My daughter currently trains 25 hours a week….yes, you read that right. She loves gymnastics, and I knew TCAH was the route to go for her education. I love the flexibility of virtual schooling, unlike traditional bricks-and-mortar school, she can do her lessons around her gym schedule.
Since this was our first year, we went through a lot of trial and error. In the beginning, we followed the schedule accordingly, and this worked for a few weeks. Once we got settled in and figured out the inner workings of Connexus, the online learning management system that makes learning at TCAH possible, we sat down together and planned a block schedule. She worked in the mornings before gym and three nights a week if needed. If we were traveling for meets, she would start her week on Sunday and get ahead. With Connexus you can do that; you can do school anywhere as long as you have access to an internet connection. The school week for TCAH runs Sunday – Saturday with a required 25 hours of educational activity. I have one STRICT rule – all lessons within that week have to be complete by Saturday night. If she procrastinated during the week, then she had to make it up on Saturday. She learned quickly to get those lessons completed
The following is the schedule that worked best for my daughter:
Monday: Math and Language Arts
Tuesday: Science and Social Studies
Wednesday: Math and Language Arts
Thursday: Science, Social Studies, and Health
Friday: Art, Ed Tech, Language Arts, and any lessons unfinished
Saturday: Finish any lessons that were not complete
Sunday: Get ahead for the week (optional)
Tip: She finished Ed Tech during Spring Break, so the second semester she had one less class and could focus on the core subjects. I highly recommend achieving this goal for Ed Tech and Art. Math and language arts in sixth grade is every day; Monday – Friday.
4- Online Lessons
Having certified teachers was very important to me to guarantee that she had the support and assistance when needed. She attends online LiveLesson sessions regularly. In these lessons, teachers conduct classes with the powerful interactive LiveLesson system. These sessions allow teachers to create and lead the real-time interactions of a traditional classroom but in an online setting. Students can ask questions, answer questions, and take part in group discussions. All LiveLessons are recorded, which is fantastic since some were during the time she was at gymnastics.
Of course, I had concerns about attending a virtual school setting:
Was she going to get a proper education?
Was she going to understand and comprehend?
Was she going to stay motivated?
She was very excited to attend TCAH, and after our first year, all those concerns disappeared.
Overall, we had a successful first year with TCAH. My daughter is less stressed while trying to manage school and gymnastics practice. I would be lying if I said everything went smoothly, after all she is a pre-teen and well, we know how that goes. I have enjoyed being by her side and helping her with her education, and we are looking forward to another year with TCAH.
If getting more involved in your kid’s education sounds like something you’d like to do, there’s a great way to learn more–and it’s free! Texas Connections Academy is hosting two upcoming information sessions, which will include a short presentation and time to chat with friendly staff who can answer your questions.
Choose from Wednesday, July 24th, at Courtyard Houston Hobby Airport or Wednesday, July 30th, at Sugar Land Marriott Town Square. Both events begin at 7:00 PM, and you’ll want to be on time to get the most out of the session.
Founder of Sienna Scoop – a community blog. A wife, mom, and a business owner. I was born in Houston, Texas and moved to Sugar Land, Texas when I was 12 years old. We moved to Missouri City, Texas from Sugar Land, Texas in 2009, primarily to be closer to family and instantly loved our new neighborhood. We love living in this community, it’s like living in a small town. One of my favorite things to do is DIY and crafting projects, for me, this is how I relax from the day to day grind.