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How to Start Homeschooling Online with Confidence

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Master homeschooling online with these simple tips and programs for a successful school year.

Skip the endless lesson prepping and start homeschooling online with ease! We are no longer strangers to virtual learning since the outbreak of the coronavirus changed how the world operates. However, parents are finding virtual learning has many kinks to iron out while our kids’ education is suffering. Many parents are looking to step up but need some direction in what programs are available and what to look for when choosing an online homeschool program.

I am here, as a homeschool graduate to share my knowledge both as a student, and now as a homeschool teacher to my kids. 

Whether you are looking for a long-term solution, or a temporary until the world get back to “normal”, you want to keep kids on track and moving forward with their educational needs. 

Information overload is a real possibility, so let’s take a slow look at this virtual learning to keep what’s most important the main focus- and that is educational progress. 

Let’s first begin with what we want to look for in an online curriculum. There are three things to keep in mind when choosing curriculum whether online or physical books. But for this example let’s keep virtual learning as the first mental choice.

The three questions to ask yourself when choosing an online home program are:

  1. Is it an accredited program?
  2. Are there affordable options?
  3. What grades is it good for?

What does accredited homeschool or public school options mean?

Accredited programs mean they meet the standards set by the Department of Education and the scope and sequence requirements for each grade. So if you are a parent looking at homeschooling and have ever wondered how you (or any parent) could possibly know what to teach your kids, then rest assured we aren’t just making things up as homeschool parents. Programs that are accredited take the guesswork out of validating standards that will be met when the program is complete. When looking into colleges parents want the institution to be accredited so the credits transfer, but mainly so the degree will actually be worth something. It’s the same concept for choosing an online homeschooling program, accredited means it’s legit. Now before you dismiss ALL other uncredited programs hear me out. Some companies (like Time4learning) to keep costs down don’t opt for the special accreditation certificate. Time 4 learning still meets the scope and sequence requirements, but they have to advise parents to double check with local requirements, leaving the call up to parents. 

What affordable options are there for online homeschooling? 

The next thing to consider when choosing a program is your budget and whether it’s a monthly or one time payment. Your preferences and budget will thank you for being upfront and realistic. Try to balance though, some free curriculum is just as good as paid one versions, but some paid versions are not as good as the free. It really just depends on how much searching, time and energy you want to spend on looking for the “perfect” fit. Just keep in mind, there are no programs or funding options for homeschooling programs. All material is out of pocket, paid for by parents. 

Be mindful of how many grades can be covered by your online program

It’s not uncommon for homeschoolers to advance more quickly in their grades than public school kids. There I said it. The reason however is because students aren’t held back by struggling classmates needing the lesson or example repeated. Homeschooled students also don’t have to help their peers, so they can focus their energy on their own lessons. The biggest benefit of opting for online homeschooling is the ability to access a higher grade mid-year. Since lesson prep time is tiny (or nonexistent) students are able to get right to the meat and potatoes of their lessons. When students are struggling they can access extra worksheets, or redo practice tests to cement the lessons. But when you have a kid that is good in math and wizzed through their beginning of the school year grade, online programs will lets parents open up the next grade up. That way the student is never stalling out, or waiting for the next grade of physical books to arrive. 

Choosing a christian or secular online homeschooling – yes you do have the option!

Long before homeschooling was popular, think back to the early 1990s or 2000s when homeschooling meant large families, jean skirts and “those” kids. Now throw that stigma out the window and replace it with this one. Today’s homeschoolers in fact are more likely to score 15-30 percentile points above public schooled peers according to the National Home Education Research Institute.  

(Here’s the article link https://www.nheri.org/research-facts-on-homeschooling/

Since homeschooled rank better than public school, thanks to the hands on individualized environment, you may want to consider some of the “old” ways when choosing secular versus christian based. Obviously, religion decision are and should be up to you

Christian based online school options

To start with, there are Christian based and secular homeschooling options when choosing an online curriculum. Generally speaking, in the past when parents were looking to take the leap into homeschooling it was for religious freedom and the about to offer a more individual approach to education. In recent times though, online school is rising in popularity as work from home options become more available, or health concerns rise. Not every household is looking for the inclusion of biblical aspects, so I want to ensure you there are tons of options for all your needs. Online Christian homeschool companies presented by Alpha Omega Publishing (AOP) are the top options for accredited, receiving awards and certificates such as Certified Autism Resources, The Homeschoo.com Seal of Approval and several reader/user nomination.

Abeka online school 

Try a full week of free access to videos and material before taking the leap to this Christian-based online homeschool program. Abeka simplifies the process so there is no guess work or planning on parents part, everything is done and ready for you to begin. Suitable for grades k-12, this program offers video lessons, teacher support and standardized testing options.

Highlights: physical books or video options, standardized testing support, full support for teachers and students.

Here’s the link to sign up with Abeka Academy

Monarch

Designed for grades 3-12 so parents can enjoy an online option for all subjects with automatic grading. Enjoy a 30-day free trial before making a commitment, if you choose to proceed the monthy subscription fee is under $40.00. Parents can choose elective add-ons, yearly one time payment options and full customization on the material so you can schedule trips, break and sick days.

Highlights: free trial and monthly subscription, 100% online, a Certified Autism Resource.

Here’s the link to sign up with Monarch

Switched on Schoolhouse (#1 with ½ million students)

The top choice for parents, students and teachers has been Switched on Schoolhouse for grades 3-12 because of the ease of use, complete subject and elective packaging and support. Parents can enjoy automatic grading, placement testing and learning activities to ensure students are getting more than a video lesson. Students interact with lessons, worksheets and quizzes to ensure students not only are introduced, but grasp concepts.

Highlights: the #1 program, computer-based homeschool program, multimedia learning and offers placement testing.

Here’s the link to sign up for Switched on Schoolhouse

3 secular online homeschool programs you can’t pass up 

Time4learning homeschool option may just be the answer for stressed out parents.

This is the MOST affordable online school that will organize, generate reports, track progress and gives you peace of mind! Time4learning has scope and sequence guidelines so you can compare with your state or county requirements. But Time4Learning has done everything for you. The lesson planning, the videos, games and more. When you are a buys mom, working from home parent, or just don’t have the time to lesson plan, try Time4learning! Unlike ABCmouse, this program offers electives and core subjects for students. The program is on a monthly subscription with a summer discounted rate to keep your membership active, but less money since you are most likely not using it. Parents and students have separate accounts, making it fun for kids to log in with their password and names. 

Highlights: grades k-12. Monthly subscription, cancel at any time. An option to pause for summer 

Here’s the link to sign up for Time4Learning

Abcmouse

One of the most advertised companies I’ve sure you’ve heard. Although ABCmouse is not accredited, it does meet some teaching standards for basic online learning in the early education sector. All subjects are covered math, reading and cognitive development skills. 

Highlights: ages 2-8 or preschool to 3rd grade. Monthly subscription or annual. 

Here’s the link to sign up for ABCmouse

An up close look at the K12 Academy

This is a free secular online education option that most 2020 parent-teachers have become.familiar with. K12 offers certified teachers and curriculum from a secular setting. Much like the public schools curriculum your kids will learn things like Common core math. This is great for all ages, as the name suggests from k-12. So if you are feeling inadequate or worried that other curriculum options are too complicated, this may be your answer.

Highlights: free online homeschool option! Accredited and certified teachers. Public school curriculum.

Here’s the link to sign up for K12 Academy

Tips for a successful online homeschooling year 

Set yourself up for productive and fun learning with these simple tips. Kids need an area to call their own, can have free expression and but is free from distraction. Keep reading for some tips on how to setup your kids space.

Create a learning environment

Don’t underestimate the power of a space to call your own. Whether you are crafting or learning or a home office the need to have a space to call your own where you can get in the mindset of the moment is essential. Where possible a homeschooling room is ideal, but not everyone has the space. It can be a wall, a simple desk or just a corner in the kids bedroom. Just make sure you designate a learning environment area so that your kids know that space is for learning. Many schools in elementary grades have learning centers where kids can expect to learn different skills in that area. It’s no different throughout the grades.

Let kids pick out supplies and furniture

When setting up a learning environment you need to involve your kids in the process so they feel like it really is their space. Get kids involved by picking out their desk or chair. We’re coming up with a desk from material around them if buying brand new furniture is out of the picture. Kids will love the space all the more when they are involved in the preparing process. 

Don’t go overboard, keep you are learning space minimum

Let’s just get something out in the oven, Kids are easily distracted. So you want to balance poster boards and inspirational sayings with a clean workspace that kids can easily organize and find things. 

Don’t be afraid to take school outside

Part of homeschooling is the flexibility to move your learning environment to different locations. In public school they call it field trips and require parental permission. At home you can easily take books or even laptops outside on a blanket to get a different learning experience that can help your kids break out of learning ruts.

Are you ready to start your online homeschool journey?

The best online homeschool programs can range from free to paid, Christian-based to secular and offer a variety of options. Parents can rest assured with accredited programs, or track their students learning with scope and sequence compared to their states board of education requirements.

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2 Comments

  • Beatrice

    We love time for learning! They were a blessing when my little one came along mid School year. But I never knew the difference between accreditation and how you could rest assured knowing your kids were getting the education they needed.

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