When designing your family’s homeschool curriculum and extracurricular plan, keep these things in mind…
In their Global Learner study, one of the leaders in educational materials and learning platforms, Pearson, uncovered several interesting facts about our changing educational landscape: Homeschool offers parents a “DIY education” approach that’s becoming more common. There’s a general lack of confidence in the traditional learning environments provided by the public school systems that’s becoming more prevalent; we know there’s a better way to educate our youth, but which materials and methods are best?
Before we get into which 5 programs are best, here are a couple considerations as you’re deciding on which educational materials and platforms to base your customized homeschool program.
What subjects are you least comfortable with?
Deciding from the beginning that you will involve a tutor in your educational plan is an excellent way to strengthen the education you’ll offer while keeping costs down. If you homeschool your children and you hate reading, for example, you’ll find it more difficult to engage your children in the subject as the subject (and they, for that matter) deserve.
Each subject matter deserves to be communicated about in an enthusiastic and knowledgable way that makes it interesting for a child to learn about. As Einstein reportedly wrote to his son in a letter:
“Mainly [do the things] which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”
If you’re least enthusiastic about reading, consider adding Audible and listening to audiobooks as part of your curriculum! One of the benefits of homeschool is being able to customize your child’s educational experience so that they are able to learn and become engaged in the story.
Or, consider hiring someone to substitute teach that subject a once or twice a week. (Perhaps you get the SparkNotes to keep up? 😜) There are plenty of tutoring franchises through whom you might meet and hire for this purpose: Kumon, TutorDoctor, Huntington Learning Center, Sylvan Learning Center, etc. It’s worth the additional investment to explore ways to better meet your child’s educational needs — especially if you honestly can’t stand a certain subject and find yourself rushing through the material to just “get it over with.” Plus, hiring someone to help a few times will give you a moment to yourself!
If you need more “outside engagement” than a tutor a few times a week, keep reading — we’ve got resources for you to consider!
Decide whether to choose a religious program or an alternative to a religiously-affiliated program
Research shows that 64% of homeschooling parents wanted a “God-centric” curriculum for their children, and 91% of parents choose to homeschool because the current environment of bullies and gun violence is terrifying, indeed.
As with any private education, you can expect to pay for the curriculum, but consider that there are some other options available that will help you teach your children about God and instill a stronger sense of religious values. For example, every state offers its own FREE, online public school system. The material is, of course, dictated by the federal system, but you will obviously have the freedom of creating the schedule and learning environment, and you can add religious studies on top of that (perhaps including a Wednesday night youth group as “credit” for the class).
This can simply be approached as a family devotional time. By selecting age-appropriate material, you can supplement any secular program. Additionally, participating in a free or low-cost secular education program offers the benefit of offering your children exposure to commonly-taught systems and the opportunity to explain to your children what you believe and why you believe differently, while providing additional educational materials to support those beliefs.
5 Best Online Homeschool Programs
- Outschool – With unique courses such as “How to Make Money at Any Age” taught live via video-chat by real teachers, this platform offers a variety of ways to add depth and breadth to your child’s educational experience. This platform is the future of education!
- Calvert Homeschool – This program offers a streamlined approach that is entirely online and is highly affordable: You can choose to enroll one child for a fairly low monthly subscription fee of $39.95, or you can enroll up to 3 children for $69.95 per month. They also have annual subscription plans available that will save you money, so consider paying a lump sum and save between $79.95 – $139.95!
- Time 4 Learning – Another excellent and affordable option, what sets this platform apart is the ability for parents to adjust the grade level by subject to suit different learning aptitudes. If your child is “crushing it” in language arts but struggles in mathematics, you can structure their learning accordingly. Time4Learning also offers a monthly subscription plan with pricing based on primary and secondary age groups: K-8th Grade costs $19.95 for the 1st student and $14.95 for each additional student; High school aged students are $30 per student. With 24/7 access, this platform offers superior flexibility.
- James Madison High School – For high-school aged students only, this program offers an optional Career Pathways track for driven students to get a head start, as well as NCAA-eligible courses for student athletes. At the time of this posting, the school is promoting a “$10 to start” offering; monthly dues as low as $49!
Though the average annual income of homeschooling families is $75,000 — higher than the nationwide average among families with school-aged children, regardless of public or private school participation — we’ve focused on affordability to appeal to parents who would like to learn more about homeschooling, but don’t want to pay $150/per month. But there are two equally excellent online options that are tied for 5th place (and only placed 5th for being more than $100/month).
5. Forest Trail Academy & Laurel Springs School — Both of these options are like super-charged versions of the more affordable versions, offering Gifted & Talented Education programs, part-time individual courses and credit recovery for students looking to take more advanced courses with even greater flexibility.
One last tip…
Join a few Facebook groups for homeschooling families and make connections with other families in your regional and local area. If your child is an only child, and your friend has two children, you might work out an agreement between yourselves that allows you to take advantage of a “multi-student” discount! We hope you’ve enjoyed this informative article.
👇🏼Drop a comment below and let us know what you’re currently doing and/or what’s working for you! 🤗