Best Homeschool Program Options
There are many benefits to homeschooling, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. Learn more about seven of the best homeschool programs.
Because of Covid-19 restrictions, more parents are turning towards homeschooling in 2021. While homeschooling is a valid option, many parents are overwhelmed how difficult it is to get started. Each state has strict homeschooling requirements to ensure your children receive a fair education. You are required to create a curriculum for the year. Without an educational background, it is difficult to build your own curriculum, which also meets all the requirements set by your state. Instead of creating a brand-new curriculum, the majority of parents rely on an existing homeschool program.
Homeschool programs provide more than a curriculum. The program also includes all the resources you need for the school year, such as assignments, handouts and lectures. Many of the programs provide multiple options, so you have flexibility with the lesson plans. This allows you to customize the course to best suit the needs of your children.
Benefits of Homeschooling
For many parents, the biggest benefit of homeschooling is academic flexibility. You can tailor each subject specifically to the needs of your child. This allows you to use different teaching methods and also focus on areas where your child is struggling. You also have greater control over the pace. Many students are more comfortable learning at home, where they do not have to worry about other students. It is also helpful for students who have a difficult time connecting with teachers, or who have learning disabilities which require a focused approach.
As of writing, another benefit of homeschooling is safety. Many parents are concerned about schools reopening after being shut down because of Covid-19. Because of the chaotic educational year in 2020, many parents are also concerned about pacing. Some schools were able to adapt to virtual learning, while others struggled. As a result, there is a greater variance in what students know, making it difficult for traditional schools to come up with lesson plans.
Strictest Homeschooling States
Some states are much stricter with homeschool requirements. New England has some of the most homeschool regulations, especially in New York and Massachusetts, but Vermont, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania also have increased guidelines. In New York, homeschool students must complete standardized tests and place in at least the 33rd percentile. New York also has a larger list of required material which must be taught for each grade level.
Pennsylvania parents must submit a detailed curriculum to the state, as well as detailed medical records. Homeschooled students are required to meet the same immunization requirements as public students. Students must also complete additional standardized tests at the end of grades three, five and eight.
K12 is one of the best overall home school programs. Parents praise it because it offers a diverse range of options, allowing them to fully customize each part of the curriculum. The program is comprehensive, covering all grade levels. The packages are also tailored to your state, ensuring each one meets the necessary requirements. In addition to the general education packages, there are also options for more intensive classes to mimic private school, shorter options for summer school and standalone elective style courses.
The program also provides parents with a number of extra resources on the website. You can access a free library with over 21,000 eBooks. K12 also hosts education camps on a number of subjects, with options for both younger and older students. This includes coding, marketing and information technology. There are additional resources for parents, including articles with advice for first time teachers. Finally, the program hosts a variety of live tutoring programs for all subjects.
Another highly recommended homeschool program provider is ABCMouse. ABCMouse provides affordable homeschool programs for younger students. The website uses a monthly subscription-based service, which only costs $12.99 per month as of writing. The website has over 800 lesson plans to choose from, up to grade three. There are also additional resources for younger students through the Step-By-Step Learning path, which is intended for children between two and eight. Many of these programs have interactive elements you can access from a tablet, smartphone or computer. While it may not cover as many grades as other homeschooling programs, it is hard to find a more affordable homeschool program.
Time4Learning is another affordable homeschool program, costing only $20 each month for grades K-8, and $30 for high school students. Time4Learning prides itself on emulating a traditional classroom setting, creating one of the most structured homeschool programs. The curriculum is highly detailed, with a variety of lesson plans, activities and tests to choose from. While many of the resources are available directly from the website, there are also separate assignments and quizzes you can print directly from the website, which is great for parents who prefer hands-on activities.
Many reviewers consider Khan Academy as the best entirely nonprofit school. Khan provides all educational resources free of charge, with options for students from K-12. Khan places a greater emphasis on high school and college prep. All high school students have access to various SAT prep materials. In recent years, the academy has expanded the number of subjects available, focusing on elective courses like computer programming, visual animation, art history and personal finance. There are also special classes for students who speak English as a second language.
EdX is a prestigious homeschool program, created by professors from Ivy League schools, including Harvard and MIT. EdX is intended for high school students who want to prepare for college. The program has classes for STEM fields, music, computer science, arts and humanities and music. Several of the programs taught through the Global Freshman Academy even provide college credit to students.
CK-12 covers traditional classes such as English and history, but it is best known for their robust math and science programs. Younger students learn through interactive PLIX lessons, which include computer graphics and educational games as part of the curriculum. Older students have access to FlexBooks, an interactive online textbook.
One of the downsides of homeschooling is your child does not get the same level of community interaction as a public school. Connections Academy is a unique homeschool options. Instead of you acting as the teacher, your child attends online classes with other students. Connections Academy is tuition-free, and even textbooks and other educational material is provided without costs. The academy has options for k-12 students.
In addition to educational material, the school hosts after class sessions, which allow students to interact with one another. These sessions are overseen by teachers or learning coaches and emulate traditional afterschool clubs and activities taught at public schools.