Teaching your child at home by yourself can seem like a monumental task.
Teaching your child at home by yourself can seem like a monumental task.
But fortunately, plenty of help is available online. Various organizations have developed homeschooling programs and courses that make it easy for any parent to educate their child themselves.
Moreover, you can use these courses for virtually any purpose, including preparing your child for their SATs, keeping preschool kids engaged, and helping elementary students understand concepts they might have missed in class.
This article explores the best homeschool programs currently available. We then answer some common concerns parents have about homeschooling and how these programs can help.
Khan Academy was originally a YouTube channel run by former IT employee Sal Khan. Sal wanted to provide his children with better education, so he began posting videos. Eventually, his efforts transformed into a gigantic and free platform for parents and children of all ages.
Khan Academy Facts:
Khan Academy first gained international renown as a non-profit more than a decade ago for offering students and homeschoolers free, high-quality educational materials. Children often found it easier to learn using Khan Academy videos than following teachers’ instructions in class.
Khan Academy’s homeschooling program is straightforward. Parents begin by selecting their child’s grade and subject and then get them to answer the questions that test their understanding. ‘Mastery Points’ tell parents whether their child is acquiring concepts and ideas successfully. Children prove their abilities by answering tests, quizzes, and problem sets. The goal is for students to go beyond mere learning to master new skills genuinely.
The best aspect of Khan Academy is that it is free. You don’t have to sign up for a subscription. You also get access to a massive range of content. Khan Academy offers niche courses on subject matter not offered by most schools, including art history, entrepreneurship, finance, and computer animation.
Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks. Firstly, students don’t get one-on-one tuition. Khan Academy doesn’t offer a tutoring program. And secondly, students learn passively by absorbing information from video instruction. While the videos are excellent, they are only one form of learning. Your child may benefit from another, such as hands-on practical experience.
Lastly, Khan Academy’s accessibility options are lacking. For instance, blind children may struggle to use educational resources.
CK-12 is the not-for-profit brainchild of Neeru Khosla and Murugan Pal. Founded in 2007, it makes teacher-created content available under Creative Commons rules, allowing anyone, anywhere, to benefit.
CK-12 is a popular option among parents looking to improve their child’s science and mathematics skills. The platform provides a host of interactive content that makes it easy for students to get to grips with tricky subjects.
Although free at the point of use, CK-12 has some of the most interactive pedagogic tools online. The technology works seamlessly, letting children get to grips with everything from calculus to engineering.
The standout feature is the Play, Learn, Interact, Explore simulation series. These turn lessons into games with exciting graphics, engaging children in new ways. Students are also fond of CK-12’s FlexBooks. There are interactive textbooks that explain concepts in-depth, breaking everything down into simpler pieces, and making concepts more tractable. CK-12 also allows parents to track their children’s progress via the central Dashboard. This keeps tabs on which skills they’ve mastered and which need more work.
Unfortunately, there are some downsides, as there are with any free resource. Firstly, younger students may struggle with advanced presentations. CK-12 doesn’t do much to make the interface child-friendly, and navigating the site is not as intuitive as it could be. Secondly – and this is the big one – parents need to supplement their material. CK-12 is not as comprehensive as other programs on this list.
Overall, CK-12 is an excellent option for parents seeking free resources. Lessons go deep, and interactivity features make them more engaging.
Harvard and MIT scientists Chris Terman, Piotr Mitros, Anant Agarwal, and Gerry Sussman set up edX in 2012. The site attracted more than 155,000 students from 162 countries within just a few months. The researchers founded the organization to raise online education aspirations and make courses available to learners worldwide.
Whether you choose edX for homeschooling depends on the age and ability of your child. edX is only for students in grades 9, and above, and lessons tend to be complex and detailed.
The reason for this has to do with edX’s mission. It wants students to fall in love with subjects and develop a passion for them before they go to university. It also wants to ensure they understand the right concepts for college-level degrees. The quality of education on edX is second to none. That’s because it partners with many of the most prestigious institutions in the world. Affiliated universities include Harvard, MIT, NYU, and Oxford in the UK. There are more than 3,600 courses available, some self-paced, others not. Many also offer transfer credits and are taught by tutors with PhDs in their fields. Subjects from STEM and humanities fields include computer science, educational studies, music, and physics. Prices for course certificates range from $50 up to $350, depending on which you choose.
edX is particularly beneficial for students looking to get a head-start in subjects not taught in most high schools. Courses let them learn the basics before moving on to more complex concepts later in their careers. Popular subjects for this purpose include algebra, precalculus, and programming. Of course, there are a couple of downsides when you choose a platform like this. One is the price: you’ll need to pay for certification. The other is the age range. It’s only for older teens and adults. It’s not for young children (unless your child is a genius!).
Overall, the quality is exceptionally high, making it an excellent choice for academically advanced students. Most courses are free, and those that aren’t are low-cost.
Connections Academy was set up as a non-tuition public school in 2001. It is a for-profit corporate provider of online school products and services.
Connections Academy Facts:
Not all parents want to teach their children themselves but still want them to receive a school-style education, even if they learn at home. That’s where Connections Academy comes into the picture. This tuition-free online school teaches children throughout 31 states according to the local curriculum. It’s like attending school without having to be there. Despite being a for-profit organization, all courses and tuition materials are free. That’s because Connections Academy receives state funding. Parents don’t have to pay for textbooks or any other resources.
Connections Academy’s main strength is its community feel. Unlike passive online learning platforms, it attempts to build authentic human relationships. Teachers, students, and peers get to know each other during courses. Plus, the website offers extracurricular clubs that mimic regular social interactions. Connections Academy also offers a host of additional resources in trying to be like a school. These include career and guidance counseling, college prep, standardized tests, and solo tutor sessions. However, there are some drawbacks. First, students must attend live classes. They can’t catch up later.
Second, it might not be available in your state. While Connections Academy targets the most populous regions, it isn’t available everywhere.
Parents like Connections Academy because it is free and follows the regular school format, replicating it online. It also provides extracurricular activities and fosters meaningful relationships between students and their peers. However, you’ll need to check if you can access it in your area.
John Edelson founded Time4Learning in 2004, intending to create a comprehensive homeschooling platform for parents across the U.S. Later, in 2008, the platform created the VocabularySpellingCity for kindergarten through to 12th-grade students. In 2018, the educational technology company, Cambium Learning Group, acquired Time4Learning and created a series of sophisticated online courses for students of all ages.
Time4Learning isn’t free, but it is affordable. And that’s why it’s on this list. Parents pay between $20 and $30 per month, depending on their child’s age, plus an extra $15 for each additional learner. Time4Learning doesn’t offer the same breadth of courses as the other platform options mentioned here. However, it goes in-depth, offering thousands of test sheets, quizzes, worksheets, problem sets, games, and activities tailored to each state’s educational requirements.
A significant positive of Time4Learning is its high school electives. Students can take economics, personal finance, environmental science, psychology, and more. These subjects give children a chance to get a headstart on their advanced studies if they attend college. They offer a glimpse into their ability and give them more opportunities to personalize their education instead of solely covering standard subjects. Many are also vocational, perfect for when your child moves into work.
Another advantage of Time4Learning is tracking your child’s educational progress. You can see how far they’ve come and where they need to improve. You can also use various lesson planning tools, making it easier to get involved in their education.
There are a couple of downsides, though. The first is that children often need supplemental lessons on specific topics. Time4Learning goes in-depth but doesn’t always reevaluate and cement understanding. Second, there are technical constraints. For instance, the platform won’t save your records if you close your account and need constant internet access. That might not be appealing to some parents.
Overall, though, it’s a good option. Unlike free platforms, you get more support and resources for your child.
Doug Dohring founded ABCmouse.com in 2007. The site currently has more than 10,000 learning activities across 850 lessons.
ABCmouse.com launched the Age of Learning Foundation in 2020. This charitable organization works with UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition, providing education at zero cost to children worldwide.
ABCmouse.com isn’t accessible to U.S. parents, but the price is low, making it a good option for any young learner. The platform targets children aged 2 to 8 and is available on tablets, smartphones, and computers. Students follow a step-by-step curriculum across ten levels, introducing them to various exciting and compelling subjects.
ABCmouse.com does an excellent job of appealing directly to young children. It introduces topics and concepts from the ground up, making learning more advanced material more straightforward. Highlights include educational puzzles, stories, letter recognition, and phonics and reading assistance. The gamification of the site is a big highlight. This feature helps young learners get to grips with subjects in a rewarding and engaging way.
As children continue with ABCmouse.com’s curriculum, they earn tickets they can use to buy virtual prizes, such as digital fish for the classroom aquarium. Incentives like these help to make students’ educational journeys unique and vibrant.
The obvious downside is the age range the site serves. It will only suffice for your children until grade 2. Other issues include a lack of challenge for gifted children and failure to cover academic subjects in the same depth as schools. Therefore, ABCmouse.com is better to supplement a regular curriculum than a replacement for it.
Lastly, we have Stride K12, a comprehensive public and private online school platform offering both free and fee-based courses. Since 2000, it’s served more than two million students and provides a personalized approach to learning based on its philosophy that every homeschooling family is different.
Stride K12 Fact:
Stride K12 is best known for its personalized, customizable course. Parents and students can set the parameters for their education in ways that aren’t available elsewhere. The platform is famous for offering everything you need to educate young learners from home. Courses are engaging and highly interactive, minimizing passive learning.
Stride K12 caters to homeschooled students by offering virtual public and private education by certified teachers, in addition to comprehensive curricula, standalone courses, summer schools, and particular interest subjects.
Enrolling is easy, and you can use the K12 Digital Literacy Solutions to supplement your child’s learning whenever you want. The repository contains more than 21,000 e-books on practically every topic, improving knowledge and reading skills. Game-based learning is also available for students from K-8 on up. The Stride platform provides a rewards-based experience designed to encourage active learning.
One-on-one education is a feature, too. Children can get live tutoring sessions in science, English, math, social studies, and world languages with a click of a button. Are there any downsides? Not. Some users complain about website issues during peak hours and the long hours required for course completion, but these are minor. Pricing is also high in some cases, but, as always, you get what you pay for.
Overall, Stride K12 is an excellent option for any parent looking for full homeschooling support. Prices are reasonable (though not the cheapest), and you get everything you need to educate your child from home in a single product.
Homeschooling a child is a significant decision. Therefore, parents want their questions answered.
Society talks loudly about the supposed disadvantages of homeschooling, but what are the benefits?
The main perk of homeschooling is you can monitor whether learning is taking place. Children can sometimes fall behind at school; parents only find out in the end-of-year report. For many caregivers, that’s too late: they want to react as soon as their child struggles. Homeschooling also lets you move through educational materials at a faster pace. It is especially beneficial for academically gifted children who want to advance through the grades rapidly.
Lastly, homeschooling avoids redundant or repetitive lessons. Once your child has mastery over a subject, they can move on.
Evidence suggests that homeschooled children perform better than their counterparts in regular schools. Around 69 percent attend college and are successful in their adult lives. They also tend to do better on standard assessment tests (SATs) and ACTs.
Colleges apply the same admissions procedures to home-schooled and publicly educated students. Therefore, it shouldn’t be harder to get a place. Admissions staff sometimes prefer homeschooled children when many gifted children apply for a limited number of places. They may want to include them to ’round out’ the cohort and get more variety.
Likewise, some colleges prefer an institutional upbringing. They look for students who get involved in extracurricular activities and excel in non-academic fields.
Evidence suggests that home-schooled kids are happier than their publicly-educated counterparts. For instance, some industry-led research suggests 90 percent of students enjoy being home-schooled. Furthermore, adults educated at home tend to have better body image and more successful interpersonal relationships.
One significant disadvantage of homeschooling is the level of parental involvement required. In a two-parent household, one parent usually stays home with the kids while the other goes to work.
Homeschooling can also result in a loss of income if both parents want to work. Educating your kids at home requires the primary caregiver to work part-time or not at all. There is also a social cost of homeschooling. Parents who do it understand the reasons for their decision, but other people in the community may not. The practice is not mainstream, and people often associate it with certain political attitudes, which can create conflict.
Lastly, parents can experience stress educating their children themselves. They worry they aren’t doing it correctly. The trick to solving many of these issues is using the right platform. Choosing a good homeschooling provider reduces the time you need to dedicate to the task while giving young learners the necessary instruction.
In the old days, homeschooling was quite expensive. Parents had to buy all the books and resources they needed from the store.
However, the price is low and often free, thanks to homeschooling programs. In this article, more than 50 percent of options cost nothing. The remainder were surprisingly affordable, costing less than $30 per month. The only significant expense on some platforms is certification. You may need to pay more than $100 to prove your child completed a particular course. Compared to private tuition, though, home-schooling is remarkably inexpensive. Here, fees can be as high as $7,000 a year.
Children with ADHD find it hard to thrive in structured public or private school environments. Therefore, homeschooling may be a better option for them. Parents can map out days more flexibly, reducing the need to concentrate on tasks rigidly, one after another.
Parents can also schedule more physical activity for their children than those educated in regular schools. Young learners can benefit from hourly breaks to let off steam before returning to academic learning. Pacing learning according to their child’s needs and development stage is another possibility. Many young learners with ADHD progress at an uneven pace academically, necessitating flexibility.
Homeschoolers socialize just like any other child outside of school. Parents take them to clubs, places of worship, and park playdates, to name a few. Homeschool programs may also offer additional opportunities to form relationships and spend time with others.
Local public schools are another option. Children can learn during the day and then go to hockey, tennis, chess, or badminton lessons when classes finish.