Monday, June 06, 2022

Florida Virtual School FLEX

A couple of years ago, we started checking out what the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) had to offer as part of their Flex program. I knew that it was a free option for Florida residents, but I heard both positive and negative comments in my homeschool circles. We started with some middle school electives and have slowly added more and more courses to our repertoire. As the guidance counselor for my two homeschoolers, they each have a full course load scheduled for the coming fall. Our experience with FLVS Flex has been superb and we have decided that this will be the primary course curriculum for my two homeschooling High Schoolers. The course selection and quality of the curriculum have been a pleasant surprise and the flexible schedule has allowed for travel as well as space for those unexpected life events.

So what is FLVS Flex? Even if you are familiar with Florida Virtual School, there is often confusion regarding the difference between their Full-Time and Flex programs. FLVS Full-Time is actually a school (albeit virtual) that follows a traditional calendar, has it's own guidance counselors, and graduation requirements. FLVS Flex on the other hand is more strictly the virtual courses offered a la carte so to speak. It is my understanding that the courses themselves are not very different but the courses offered via Flex serve homeschool, private, and public school students

Flex classes can start any time throughout the year and there is flexibility on the pace of work submitted. That being said, every class has a standard minimum number of assignments that are expected to be completed each week. A math class may expect 2-3 assignments minimum per week, while an elective will generally expect 1. All the assignments, quizzes and yes even tests are open note. Many parents balk at this, but, from what I have seen, this is a non-issue. If a student works through the assignments and takes notes they really learn the material. Most tests, even those for math courses, have essay questions where essentially they must explain how they got a particular answer which demonstrates their understanding of the concepts. A common complaint is the lack of live instruction, but nearly every class does offer some live lessons and some teachers have set "office hours" where students can just drop in a zoom room for questions and assistance. 

While the course options do vary slightly between Flex and Full-time, I have been very impressed with the course selection for Flex and the quality of the curriculum. They offer interesting electives available both at the the Middle School and High School level. I previously wrote about my daughter's FLVS: Middle School Photography course. My son took Business Keyboarding in Middle School to improve his typing speed and it was very helpful. He is now taking the High School Foundations of Programming class. 

The core classes are thorough and very well done. Both of my kids took the Middle School Pre-Algebra course to prepare for high school Algebra. My son has since completed the High School Algebra I Honors course with a high A and is excited to start Honors Geometry this summer. They both have taken English 1 Honors where they covered speeches of presidents, poetry and Shakespeare in affective thought provoking ways.

FLVS also offers a good selection of Advanced Placement courses and recently added an AP Capstone Program. My sophomore son will be taking his first AP course this fall.

The FLVS Flex option is a great virtual learning solution if you want schedule flexibility, quality curriculum and your students have a high degree of self direction. 

I do not personally have any experience with the elementary program. My experience has been with the Middle and High School Flex program which I highly recommend.

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