The Ultimate Guide To The Best Home School Programs
Are you tired of trying to find the best homeschool curriculum for your children? Let me show you the pros and cons of each program with my comprehensive review including a comparison table.
A growing number of parents are turning to home school education as a more interactive alternative to traditional schooling. Thanks to an increase in resources and accessibility, receiving a top-notch education at home has never been easier. This abundance of material grants parents and teachers the freedom to create a quality, customized curriculum for every student.
Home school programs are flexible and adaptable, making them a great way for students to learn outside of the traditional classroom environment. In addition, online learning connects more students together, creating a virtual classroom that’s rife with interaction, shared ideas, and individual accomplishment.
However, for many parents, teachers, and educators, navigating the staggering amount of K-12 home school curriculum options can be overwhelming. Today, a myriad of accredited programs are widely available online, with many offering inexpensive or free cutting-edge resources for students.
Distinguishing between different types of home school curriculm is an important step in choosing the right education for your homeschool student. Important factors such as: teaching methods, cost, and subject material should all be considered when selecting the right homeschool program.
Read on to see how we compare some top homeschooling programs, highlight important distinctions between curriculums, and address common questions regarding homeschool education.
Comparing Home School Curriculum
Not all K12 homeschool programs are created equal. In truth, the best programs are ones that engage your student and allow for personal growth. Ideally, the curriculum should grow with the student. In this way, a good homeschooling program offers a flexible learning structure, a variety of subject materials, and a solid academic foundation to prepare for higher learning. Be sure to thoroughly research all homeschool education curriculum to ensure that you are making the best decision possible for you child.
The comparison table below highlights some rudimentary aspects of some top top homeschool curriculum.
Laurel Springs School
Traditional Home School & Distance Learning
Virtual Classroom w/ Supplementary Print Materials/Exercises
Homeschool Buyers Co-op
Independent Study/Traditional Homeschooling
Traditional Homeschooling with teacher supervision
Individualized Through Student Assessment
International Virtual Learning Academy
Online Learning/Virtual Classroom
Global Student Network
Independent Study/Traditional Homeschooling
Important Factors to Consider
The table above provides a basic outline for general comparison of various homeschool programs. While factors such as years in business, accreditation, and a comprehensive K-12 program can help weigh your decision about which homeschool curriculum to choose, also consider the following criteria:
Due to the inherent flexibility of home school education, many programs have developed different teaching methods that follow particular learning styles. The best homeschooling programs will incorporate a mix of teaching techniques, creating a unique approach that is all their own. As your child grows you should periodically reevaluate which method most appropriately matches their personal and educational needs. You may find that changing teaching styles will allow for greater academic success than sticking to just one program in its entirety.
There are several popular methods of homeschooling, each with a unique set of defining principles. Along with fundamental distinctions, each style approaches education through different practices: lectures, video learning, exposure to nature, field trips, subject-specific focuses, workbooks, and projects. Understanding the educational principles of these methods will influence your decision on how you want to teach your child.
Independent Study vs. Mentorship
Scheduling? and time management are hugely important in any self-directed education program. You should assess how much time your child will be engaging in independent study and how much time will be spent assisted by a mentor or educator. Some programs will follow a more structured approach similar to traditional public schools, where material is broken down into daily allotments. Others will offer a more flexible course of study that allows students to spend more time on interests or focus on areas of improvement.
For older students who can exercise more discipline, a program that allows for more self-reliant learning can be useful in providing extra time to pursue interests, whereas younger children might need a more focused structure in order to successfully complete tasks. In either case you should recognize a student's strengths and challenges and select a program that meshes with their academic development.
Future Education Goals
As an educator selecting the best curriculum, you are ultimately responsible for your child’s future academic success. In most cases, you will be working with your child as he or she progresses through the material. That’s why you should select a curriculum that not only fulfills your education standards, but also teaches the subject matter in a style that engages both the student and the teacher. This helps promote a healthy learning environment for both parties and encourage an enthusiasm for learning the material, leading to greater information retention.
Top 5 Curriculum Reviews
Laurel Springs School
Laurel Springs School is an online private college preparatory school for grades K-12. They boast an impressive 91% college acceptance rate among program graduates. While expensive, their coursework is professional, flexible, and accessible 24/7, so students are free to complete their lessons whenever they choose. Laurel Springs also keep detailed records of student test scores and grades that parents can access to monitor their child’s success.
During K-8 grades, parents and teachers work together, with teachers hosting real-time lessons and introducing curriculum that parents can tailor to best suit their child’s learning development. In grades 9-12, teachers take a more active role, providing one-on-one interaction with students, focusing on particular areas of expertise, and encouraging students to pursue college educations.
Connections Academy bills itself as a “tuition-free, fully-accredited, online K-12 public school.” That may sound too good to be true, but the reality is that in many states, you won’t have to pay any tuition fees for students enrolled in Connection Academy’s online public school. Their curriculum meets the education standards in over two dozen states across the country and is characterized by parental involvement as a “Learning Coach.” Parents and teachers work in tandem with students to personalize lesson plans, track student progress, and facilitate more effective learning. Parents are also asked to volunteer as community coordinators--organizing field trips and study sessions--so that students can interact beyond the classroom.
Homeschool Buyers Co-op
Parents who opt for a more traditional homeschooling approach should not overlook the resources available on Homeschool Buyers Co-op. One of the biggest limiting factors for homeschool curriculum is cost, so Homeschool Buyers Co-op fashioned an online community that gives parents and educators more buying power to afford high quality learning resources at a discounted price.
Their website is easy to navigate and features a wide variety of subject matter across digital, print, and interactive mediums to work with just about every lesson plan. They also offer free incentives such as a Summer Reading Program, a searchable field trip database backed by user reviews, and a Homeschool classified page where you can buy and sell lightly used materials for a fraction of their original cost. The best part? Membership is completely free.
Time4Learning offers a monthly enrollment program for students, meaning no year-long contracts or hefty enrollment fees. Instead, parents and students have the power to set their own learning schedule at a pace that works best for them. Students have access to an entire year’s worth of curriculum as soon as they begin, so those who accelerate quicker won’t be bored by tediously organized lesson plans. The majority of coursework takes place online, so any computer with internet access becomes a portal to their virtual classroom. Parents can also supplement learning material with printouts to facilitate their own homeschool curriculum, as well as track student records and scores. This program values student independence and strives to deliver the curriculum in a way that feels more like games than work.
K12 stresses the importance of a unique and personalized learning style for each and every student. That’s why they offer three different platforms: free online public school, online private school, and individual courses. Both online schools are supported by state-certified educators who host virtual lessons and work directly with students on areas where they need extra help. K12 students receive a personalized lesson plan each day and parents can reorganize the day’s work to maximize their child’s learning potential. K12’s education goals are to “teach the individual, not the group.”
K12 utilizes games, web lessons, textbooks, and videos to teach necessary core subjects during a student’s early years. As they grow, students can choose elective classes, AP & Honors courses, and certification courses for future employment.
Now that you know what to compare when researching a home school education program, you may still have some general questions about how to choose the best option for your child. For more specific questions pertaining to an individual program or curriculum, visit the FAQ section for that particular home school program.
Where can I find reviews about these programs?
TheHomeSchoolMom has a frequently updated list of homeschool curriculum reviews submitted by real parents along with a helpful “Pros/Cons” section for each program. HomeSchool Reviews also boasts a large database of published home school curriculum and online courses. They stress that all home school reviews are submitted by real families with real experiences.
Check the FAQ section of individual homeschool program websites as they will often have a testimonials section that can help answer program-specific questions and provide helpful user reviews.
What happens after finishing a K-12 Homeschool Program?
Most K-12 homeschool programs complete their studies at a high school level education. If your child wants to continue pursuing a higher education you should be aware of certain prerequisites that must be fulfilled before a student can move on to university level schooling. Each state has specific high school graduation requirements and many colleges and universities require academic transcripts and assessment testing during the admissions process. Proper documentation is vital to increasing your child’s chances of acceptance and many Learn from home programs will track student progress, which can then be submitted to prospective schools.
What if I want to create my own curriculum?
Luckily, the number of free resources available to parents who want to create their own home school curriculum is ever-growing. Even if you are already enrolled in a homeschool program, you can supplement your child’s learning with books, videos, worksheets, online games, and other interactive exercises that are fun and continue the learning process even outside the classroom.
These lists from popular homeschool bloggers: Only Passionate Curiosity, The Happy Housewife, and The Pioneer Woman have a massive amount of homeschool materials--from lesson plans and quizzes to academic calendars and study sheets--that you can download, print, watch, and learn--for free!
With so many options from which to choose many home school programs can pose more questions than answers. That’s why it is vital to your child’s success that you research what each program offers, the teaching methods they employ, and how it aligns with your education goals. Try and locate the homeschool program’s “Mission Statement” on their website to see if you agree with their teaching philosophies and practices.
After you’ve chosen the ideal program you should monitor your child’s progress and reevaluate every few months to see how your student is performing. You can always supplement classroom material with your own curriculum, giving you more of an active role in your child’s academic growth.
Learning is a fun and dynamic process, and thanks to the wealth of information and resources available to modern homeschool families, even the most uninitiated homeschool parent can make a well-informed decision about the best homeschooling program for their family.