Homeschooling is easier than ever, thanks to a wide variety of online homeschool programs. From course-specific courses to virtual school, check out this list of the 6 Best Online Homeschool Programs.
Homeschooling can be done at the kitchen table, in the backyard, or in front of a computer. And, once your kids get old enough, you might need help to provide them with advanced information, especially in math and science. This is where online homeschool programs can come in handy.
What’s an Online Homeschool Program?
Designed to replicate a classroom experience, in online homeschool programs, the kids sit in front of the computer and usually watch a lecture or lesson plan, then follow that with homework or assignments.
There are a variety of ways the course material can be presented, including:
- Live classes: In programs like this, the teacher or presenter will be in real time. Zoom or other software is used to connect the students and the teachers. The teacher may allow open discussion or may mute attendees’ mics.
- Recorded classes: Some online programs offer prerecorded classes that the students can watch on their own time, even while on vacation. The benefits of this are that there are no timezone issues, and students can go at their own pace.
- Reading: Other homeschool programs offer a syllabus and course outline for the student to follow. This can include reading books or documents, watching videos, and doing assignments.
Benefits of Online Homeschooling
There are many benefits to doing online homeschool programs.
Doing school online often allows for a more flexible schedule. Even if students need to be online in a class at a specific time, they can use the rest of the time as required. This often means they can sleep late, take the dog for a walk, get more outside time, and spend longer on more difficult assignments.
Go at Their Own Pace
Many online programs offer prerecorded lectures and material so kids can go at their own pace. If the students find the material easy, they can speed ahead and finish the program and assignments more quickly. Or, they can slow down and take extra time in more challenging areas.
Online homeschooling eliminates most kinds of bullying, and good teachers will have a handle on crowd control, ensuring that the kids are not talking or chatting while in a group setting.
More Efficient Learning
In a typical school setting, a large part of the day is spent moving from class to class, getting organized, taking out books and putting them away, and getting the class settled enough to get some work done. A good online program eliminates these distractions, giving students a more concentrated learning experience.
Without attending a traditional school, kids who homeschool online are free to travel and see the country or even the world. They can even attend online classes while camping, provided they have a secure Internet connection.
Time To Learn Other Skills
Homeschooling can also encompass other skills like cooking, budgeting, hobbies, dry ice experiments, and more. From mastering the backyard smoker and making delicious picanha to making a delicious dinner for the family, there’s more to homeschooling than just math, science, and literature.
Most online homeschool programs are not free. Their cost varies and is often based on the following:
- Length of the program
- The course material (advanced subjects tend to cost more)
- Teacher credentials
- Format of the course — live classes can be more expensive than prerecorded ones.
Homeschool programs are not tax deductible, and while some states offer provisions for offsetting costs, most do not. Do your research before planning out the student’s year to ensure enrollment in affordable classes.
The Best Online Homeschool Programs
There are both secular and Christian homeschool programs available. From my ten years of homeschool experience, the following are some of my favorite programs.
Next Level Homeschooling
Covering a variety of prerecorded classes in history, science, literature, and special interest classes, Next Level Homeschooling offers prerecorded classes that the kids can do on their own time. Homework is graded, and helpful comments are also provided.
Formerly known as Uzinggo, Adaptive Curriculum offers virtual interactive lessons in math and science for kids in grades six through 12. Kids can go at their own pace and use this resource either as a curriculum or for additional help and reinforcement of core concepts.
Art of Problem Solving
AOPS, long considered the gold standard in homeschool math education, offers a variety of online programs for kids of all ages. For younger kids, their popular Beast Academy presents math in a fun way with a colorful interactive online program. Older kids can take online programs that cover various math courses in a fast-paced real-time format.
Art of Inquiry
Offering real-time classes led by Julia Brodsky M.Sc, an astrophysicist and former NASA rocket scientist, Art of Inquiry offers various courses to help kids explore astrobiology, astrophysics, and more.
Outschool is known for its a la carte classes. Affordable and covering a wide variety of topics, parents can pick and choose classes based on their child’s interests or current studies.
Time 4 Learning
Time 4 Learning is an affordable digital curriculum. Offering a complete curriculum from kindergarten to grade 12, students can go at their own pace and access classes and activities through an interactive portal.
How to Choose an Online Homeschool Program
The number of quality online programs available to homeschoolers has dramatically increased since COVID, and parents have more choices than ever. How do you pick the best programs for your kids? Here are some tips.
- Look for or ask for trusted reviews. Ask your homeschool community if anyone is familiar with the program, and ask their thoughts about it.
- Carefully read the course and program outlines. Quality programs should include a complete breakdown of covered material, either by session or for the whole course.
- Review teacher qualifications. Course providers and teachers can be certified teachers, but they should have the education or experience to teach the course material.
- Consider assignments and homework. Homework can quickly build up and become overwhelming. Evaluate whether the homework is mandatory or optional.
- Cost. Cost is undoubtedly a factor and can add up if your child does several programs concurrently.
The Final Word
Homeschooling can be a rich and rewarding experience for both kids and parents, and with the number of online programs available, you don’t have to struggle to find enough time to educate your kids. With topic-specific and full-grade curricula available, you can find the best fit for your family’s needs.
Jenn Allen is a retired chef turned cookbook author, blogger, and traveler. She lives at home with her family and the cats that rule them all. Get all of her travel tips, stories, and more at AllTheBestSpots.com.