When we made the decision to homeschool I instantly started researching curriculum and quickly figured out that homeschooling is not cheap! Yes there are free routes, cheap-er routes, inexpensive with the right coupon code routes. Either way shelling out a load of dough was not unheard of. And that is just for curriculum. To provide a full education with manipulatives and art supplies.....well that could mean you are taking out a small loan! So we started out using free printables I would gather from different sites and blogs. And it worked great, it really did. But then I found a better way, for us, for the time being.
We homeschool Jonah (6) and Ellie (4) through an online academy which is considered a Public Charter school. Interesting isn't it? Have you heard of homeschooling this way before? If not, let me introduce you to a great way to have a little of both worlds, especially if you are nervous about starting out in the homeschooling world at all! So here is how it works:
You enroll your child in the school following all the proper steps, this could mean providing surveys from previous teachers, informing past schools if your child has attended any....or just signing the waver like we did! You go through an online slide show which gives you the rules and expectations of you the parent/teacher. Then comes the fun part!
The school provides you with $1500 per student as well as a list of providers from where to buy your curriculum. The awesome part is you can even choose Christian curriculum providers such as Sonlight, Abeka, AO Publishers and tons more. What I really love about this is that you can try curriculum risk free! At the end of the school year you are given a list of the non-consumable items that need to be returned. These are things like readers, teachers manuals etc. You keep any workbooks or items that you've used up during the year. At first I was a little disappointed about having to return the curriculum but after realizing I'd run out of storage in about 2 years, I wasn't that upset! Of that $1500, you need to use at least half the money on curriculum of your choice but the other half can be used to pay for non-competitive activities or lessons (such as ballet, gymnastics, karate, piano, ukulele, voice, etc) or field trips, year passes to museums, galleries or other educational locations.
The school also provides you with some places to purchase you consumable (and not to be returned) school supplies as well as Art supplies. This year we purchased items from Lakeshore Learning as well as DickBlick. And get this.....you have an unlimited amount of money to spend! That's right Unlimited! Okay I say that but within reason. I'm sure if you tried to foot them with a $5000 bill it wouldn't be approved. But anything you need in the way of markers, crayons, glue paint, stamp pads, dot-dot markers! You don't have to pay for! This has really made homeschooling incredible for us! I'm a hands on teacher and LOVE including art and crafts projects with any subject! These are yours to keep and yours to use!
So by now you are thinking the school has us by their little finger right? They supply all of this, but it can't really be a real homeschool experience.....what's the catch????
The only thing you are required to do is have your child attend 2 classes a month. The teacher provides you with a schedule of class topics for the whole semester, from those you choose 2 per month. You can choose from a list of times and days OR your child can attend the web class! Through the year the teacher provides classroom opportunities for your child on a variety of subjects from Math to Science to Reading.
There are many reasons why I have really enjoyed this aspect of the online school:
- It gives my child classroom experience, a teacher who isn't "Mom", to listen to, follow directions from, obey. I think this accurately models life and gives my kids a chance to practice those character traits they've learned at home!
- It also gives my child a different learning location. Classrooms are fun places, they are decorated and have different learning stations and Bulletin Boards! (man do I miss Bulletin Boards!)
- I get to choose the subject, and with that I try to choose something we are currently working on, or something I know Jonah and Ellie would benefit from. Maybe hearing it in a different way, explained in a different way will make something click for them! This means I can also avoid subjects I would prefer to teach my kids myself!
- The classes are only 2 hours long (the webcam class is 30 minutes), I treat it as a field trip! They do a variety of things in 2 hours including crafts!
- I love that my two social bugs have a chance to interact and make friends with other students their age. Of course we have friends at Church and at Awana, again, I think giving them bits of time to practice those character traits is important!
- It gives me a chance to interact with a trained teacher about my child. The teachers are there to offer up support, resources and advice when needed. That is a huge help! I can ask and receive help with certain aspects of their education, I can have them evaluated for progress if I want. And they are on your side, they are there to support you in homeschooling!
Now I know this doesn't appeal to every homescooling family. For us it's been amazing! It's been a blessing for us in many ways! About 48 of the 50 states now have an online option though it will be very different for each state.
DO you homeschool online? Do you have any questions that I didn't' cover here? Don't hesitate to ask!
Some links for those who are looking