On a typical Tuesday morning in mid-July, I looked through my patio window to see my oldest son laughing on our outdoor sofa.
He’s everything a growing fourteen-year-old boy typically is: hungry all the time, generally impatient with his younger siblings, needs new shoes every month, can be unexpectedly and momentarily tender, and is fairly surly in the mornings.
To see him laughing and engaged as the early sun streamed through the windows was definitely a treat.
What was it that was making him so happy?
Participating in a Dexter Homeschool live stream about Cold War literature.
Yep, it’s true.
And it’s happened repeatedly with every course he’s taken at Dexter.
Why We Chose Dexter School
Dexter has been a part of our son’s life for a year and a half now. First, he attended the after-school part-time program where he took courses in astronomy, various coding languages, and learned the basics of 3D printing.
He was also introduced to some really fun activities, such as virtual reality.
More importantly, he became part of a culture in which learning and a thirst for knowledge could actually be cool.
After years of searching, my intellectual, mini-war-gaming son had finally found the place where he belonged.
When Dexter canceled their part-time program to focus on their full-time school, our son’s involvement was a no-brainer for us. Here’s why.
First, I am a huge fan of Dexter’s learning model and core philosophy.
With their own “Dexter Ethos” that focuses on kindness always, learning for growth and education for knowledge, Dexter celebrates and encourages each student as an individual.
Dexter is also a place where students are encouraged to develop a growth mindset — or the belief that everything is “figure-out-able.” Failure isn’t final. Rather, it is only a step in the learning and growth of each student. As a mom of a perfectionist son, this is exactly the message I want him to hear on a regular basis.
Second, the passion and excitement of the entire staff is infectious — in a good way.
At the start-of-term orientation last year, I was personally touched by CEO Michael Olaya’s welcome speech to all Dexter students. He spoke with great conviction about the importance of the hero’s journey and the opportunity each student had to begin their own profound experience with learning, knowledge and becoming the best version of themselves. Not only was I taking notes about the daily functions of the school, but some of the notes I wrote that day from Michael’s speech still have a profound impact on my day to day living.
On another occasion, I remember listening in on an SAT Writing class over the summer semester, and I was honestly shocked to hear the instructor so full of energy about the subject-verb agreement and the proper use of who and whom. Not only was my son hyped to start using these skills in his own writing, I felt a renewed enthusiasm for proper grammar myself!
Before attending Dexter, my son was fairly focused on engineering and science or math-based subjects. All it took was the Introduction to Shakespeare course to light a fire of excitement in my son for all things Shakespearean, and he even enrolled in a theatre course for the first time in his life.
To say his instructors have broadened his horizons and positively impacted his life is perfectly accurate.
Third, the quality of education at Dexter is far above anything we could expect in a traditional school setting.
Instead of focusing on teaching rote facts, Dexter instructors and courses concentrate on teaching students how to reason, come to individual conclusions, and communicate in a meaningful way.
So far my son has taken courses in coding, physics, algebra, history, literature, 3D printing, grammar, humanities, and more. Many of these classes have a required reading list comprised of excellent classic books such as Animal Farm, as well as more contemporary books that help my son to read and analyze modern works.
Finally, the sense of community at Dexter is unrivaled.
Calling themselves “Dexterites,” the students have a real feeling of belonging to something bigger than themselves.
Many of them have fun on-screen nicknames. Over the summer, many of the students participated in virtual summer movie nights, watched the SpaceX launch together, and maintained a regular chat in which they kept track of the funniest quotes from their instructors.
In a time when feelings of loneliness for teenagers are increasing, having a sense of belonging is so important for teens.
As a mom, I am always happy to see my son wear one of his many Dexter t-shirts with pride. He sees his involvement in his classes and clubs as one of the most important things he is doing with his life.
Day to Day Experience
So what does the day to day homeschool experience with Dexter look like?
First, I really appreciate that my son is able to get a full night’s sleep. Classes begin at 9am CST, so he has plenty of time to wake up at a reasonable hour, get ready for the day, practice piano, and eat a decent breakfast without feeling rushed to get out the door on time.
A few minutes before classes start, he logs into his Dexter Live portal so he can participate via livestream in his first class of the day. The livestreams often have an active chat rolling along, which provides students the opportunity to participate and socialize a bit.
When I asked my son to give me two adjectives to describe the daily livestreams, he said without hesitation, “enjoyable and educational.”
From time to time, the classes will meet via Zoom to enable increased discussion among students. I’ve been impressed with the opportunity my son has had to work in a small group or partnership with another student online as well.
Each class is fifty minutes, and all classes break at noon for a full lunch hour. This is at least double the length of time the average middle or high school lunch period lasts, and it allows my son the opportunity to eat a nutritious lunch and have some time to relax his mind.
Having a full lunch hour reminds me of a college-type setting, and I appreciate that he has the opportunity to make his own choices with how he uses his free time in the middle of the day.
In the afternoon, he will typically have two more classes, with a few clubs mixed in throughout the week. These clubs are comparable to electives and are lighter in scope or tone. They provide even more interaction than a daily livestream.
Following the official school day, my son will do about an hour or two of homework to complete his daily assignments or work on longer-term projects. When I asked him to describe these daily assignments, he said, “well, they’re definitely enriching.”
Final Thoughts From a Parent’s Perspective of Dexter
Dexter has been an incredible blessing in the life of my son. With the warm and inviting atmosphere (even online), the first-rate faculty and staff, and the educational model and ideals, I can’t even choose which aspect of Dexter is the best.
If you are looking for an educationally superior, at-home school for your son or daughter, I highly recommend looking into Dexter! Your child will be welcomed into a thriving community of modern learners and instructors who understand the important role of knowledge and personal growth for every student who belongs to this incredible school. You can learn more about Dexter and apply for the Spring 2021 term (January-late May) at joindexter.com.
Jen Bradley is a mom blogger of 5 kids and a military spouse in a little town in north Texas. She has a passion for helping moms lead intentional lives so they can get past the piles of laundry and actually enjoy mom life. Visit her blog to pick up her free Productivity Printable Pack for Moms at https://www.jenbradleymoms.com.