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On-line schooling that's worthy of pursuing?


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So, I pulled my three to homeschool this year because Covid and assorted other reasons. However, I work two days a week and have only done a fair job of it. We did finally bring in a tutor on one of those work days to oversee school, and they are at a co-op of sorts on my other work day. I love the planning and the dreaming part of homeschool, but the actual execution has been uneven. I'd prefer not to put them back into public school. Does anyone use on-line options that they love? Prenda is big here in Arizona right now, but there aren't currently any microschools nearby. Just looking for options for next year that don't leave me so overwhelmed.

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I tried the online schooling through the public schools this year and it left me very overwhelmed. I gave it up. I would pick individual subjects that can either be combined for all ages together or done independently, at least, more independent than they currently are.

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I can't see the ages of your kids, so I looked at some of your other threads.  I'm guessing you're looking to homeschool your youngest three, who will be in K, 2nd/3rd, and 5th, is that right?  I think I also see you referencing some learning challenges in other threads, and mentioning that you don't want them to do any school on screens.  Gently, I would have extremely low expectations of any online program for kids of these ages, and even lower for any kid whose personality or academic ability put them outside the dead middle of grade level.  Physical classes often "teach to the middle"; online classes even more so.

My situation has not been the same as yours - I do not work outside the home and my kids seem neurotypical - but we have had a pretty challenging couple of years as well.  There was the year I was pregnant, the year we had a baby and my husband was diagnosed with a terminal condition, the year he died, the year of coronavirus and my dad dying (cancer), and just a couple months ago my father-in-law, who lived with us, also died (cancer again).

What has helped me keep homeschooling amid grief, stress and intense busyness is combining subjects wherever possible, and being okay with doing the minimum for a season.  For five years, I've prioritised reading, writing, math and history, and given a lick and a promise to science and art.  There has been no foreign language, no memory work, minimal extracurriculars. 

Specific homeschool materials are generally more multi-age friendly than online classes and charter schools.  Something like Story of the World can easily accommodate your youngest three as written, whereas an online class would probably split them off into separate areas.  Some writing programs (BraveWriter, Writing and Rhetoric) could stretch to fit two of your kids in the same level.  A homeschool science program like Berean Builders Science in the Beginning (note that this is written from a Christian perspective) is written for grades K-6, with three levels of output provided for you to choose from.

For kids learning to read (and doing necessary memory work like times tables), five minutes a day is far better than an hour once a week.  If possible, I'd get at least a tiny amount of these done each day.  Best of luck finding a set up that works for you in challenging circumstances!

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We have used many classes through Athena’s Academy and love them. They are with an actual live teacher, discussion is usually lively, and the classes are generally engaging. Athena’s is aimed at gifted kids, with courses chosen by ability level instead of age level.

I wouldn’t attempt to do all my daughter’s schooling through online classes, but having her take some stuff through Athena’s allows me to focus on the other stuff.

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21 hours ago, Penny_P said:

I love the planning and the dreaming part of homeschool, but the actual execution has been uneven.

I just want to say that this is very normal for at least the first couple years. We have now homeschooled three years and it's only starting to feel like I'm moving into a groove where it works for us, with lots of bad choices and bad fits along the way. Every year, it takes a few weeks to get into stride as well. 

It sounds like you're doing a great job now keeping them busy on the other two days. We only school 4 days per week with a co op day. I think that's great. It is fun to choose resources for each kid, but it can help if you can find grade-level plans that fit your family pretty well (not perfectly) that you can tweak, vs reinventing the wheel. That might take some of the burden off vs having to find and supervise an online option with young kids. Those options work best for older kids, taking only one or two specific classes IMO. Younger kids don't need a ton of work anyway, again just my two cents.

I don't have much to offer except the encouragement that we have all been there. It's much more fun to plan than to execute!! Pam Barnhill always says that too. As long as you're moving the ball along slowly but surely, and providing lots of screen free time for them to be bored and find their own fun (inventing, building, playing, pretending, exploring), they will be learning so much and bonding together as a family and it will be worth it. And don't forget to add in fun - Sarah Mackenzie has a list of just-for-fun things you can do to celebrate homeschooling and let go of box-checking-worry for the day. There are so many benefits of homeschooling they're getting even in seasons where you're not getting to absolutely everything.

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I would look at individual classes, not schools. Like @Jackie mentioned, Athena’s was awesome here, starting at age 7-so much so that when my senior designed a class ring, Athena’s went in the class field. Online G3 was another elementary ages favorite here. 
 

AoPS now has software and classes for Beast Academy, which may be worth considering, too, if you have math loving  kids

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This isn't online, but workbooks from The Critical Thinking Company might take some of the load off for some subjects.  Their History Detective workbook is good for middle school (it looks like you might have one going into 6th?).  Their Science Detective workbooks were good for one of mine in late elementary.  Their Inference Jones books were good for a bit of reading comprehension.  I'm not in the same situation as you, but I had a kid who fought everything that I tried, so I wanted something that had short lessons that were of a set length so there was no arguing about whether we were done yet.  🙂  I was pleasantly surprised by the science coverage.  I've used/am using History Detective with both kids because it does some cultures that their text doesn't.  I had started with the company for their puzzle books but have tried different things when I had gaps to fill or specific issues to address.  

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