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Because of the pandemic, more parents are turning towards homeschooling. Homeschooling is much more complex than most parents realize. You cannot simply declare you are homeschooling your child and start teaching them. Every state has specific requirements you must meet. Some of the stricter states require you to submit your curriculum for approval. Others require your child to pass standardized testing at the end of the year to determine if they pass onto the next grade level.
Creating a curriculum is not easy and requires many resources. Fortunately, there are many online homeschool programs that simplify this process, including all of the assignments, tests, and handouts you need. Some of these resources are available for free, but most homeschool programs have a paid component, either using a subscription system or a one-time cost. The total costs greatly vary depending on where you live and what grade you are teaching, but most parents pay between $700 and $1,800 per child each year.
Types of Homeschool Programs
While there are many homeschool programs to choose from, they fall under one of two categories. With a traditional homeschool program, you act as the teacher for your child. You can use homeschool programs to build a curriculum and get educational resources, including tests, lectures, and assignments.
The second type of homeschool program is classes taught online. With these courses, your child attends a virtual classroom, which is taught by a certified teacher. Some versions use prerecorded lessons, while others are taught live. These classes also mimic interactive elements of public school, with group assignments and classroom discussions.
Benefits of Homeschool Programs
Both types of homeschool programs share several benefits. Homeschooling provides a personalized approach to learning. With traditional homeschooling, you can personalize each lesson plan for your child. This allows you to focus on areas where your child struggles and utilize learning methods you know are effective. These types of classes are also effective if your child has a learning disability. Homeschooling is also a good resource for children who are uncomfortable learning around other students.
Online homeschool programs still provide greater flexibility with the curriculum. In public school settings, teachers have greater restrictions with their lessons, having to follow policies set by department heads and school boards. While online homeschool programs must follow state regulations, these are not as restrictive. You also have more class options to choose from, with some programs allowing you to build your own class schedule, similar to selecting courses in college.
Homeschool programs are also good for students who do not adhere to a traditional schedule. With traditional classes, you can insert breaks between each subject, giving your child a chance to decompress or ask questions about what he or she learned. You can also change the pace of the lessons if you notice your child is struggling. This also helps students who normally struggle with deadlines. While some online homeschool programs require you to attend lessons at set times, many programs are flexible, and even live segments can be watched at a later date.
In 2021, there are additional benefits to homeschooling because of Covid-19. Many parents are concerned about schools reopening too quickly. Another concern has to do with educational limitations during the pandemics. The majority of schools were caught off guard and struggled to make the switch to digital learning. As a result, lessons were rushed and students did not have as many opportunities to ask questions and absorb the material. With schools opening up again, teachers are expected to return to their normal lessons, but because of the previous Covid limitations, not all students may be prepared for these lessons. Homeschooling lets you ease your children back into school and cover areas that were either rushed or ignored during the pandemic.
Common Homeschool Requirements
The exact requirements to enroll your child in a homeschool program vary depending on the state. There are a few similarities with the requirements. In many states, you are required to notify the education authority about your decision to homeschool. In stricter states, you must include a curriculum or notes on what subjects you teach, but most states only require the names of who you are teaching and their grade level.
Most states require you to match the length of a traditional school year. Some states also require you to teach for a set number of hours each day, while others use a weekly requirement. You must cover the four traditional subjects, English, math, history and science. Some states include additional subjects, like health or physical education.
In stricter states, your children must complete standardized testing at the end of the year before being able to move onto the next grade level. Some states allow you to administer these tests at home, while others require you to take your child to a nearby school.
K12 is a comprehensive resource for parents interested in homeschooling. K12 runs classes for all students, as well as providing lesson plans and assignments for parents who want to teach their own courses. All of the lessons are designed with state requirements in mind. K12 includes additional class options, offering expedited programs, advanced classes to prepare high school students for college, or summer school classes.
K12 also emulates electives and after-school activities through their education camps. These camps allow your child to interact with other students while studying subjects not normally covered in the curriculum, such as computer programing or marketing.
Time4Learning provides comprehensive homeschool programs. While direct lesson plans are available, parents have the option of creating their own customized curriculum. You can choose between using the online resources or printing out assignments and tests to complete by hand. Many of the lesson plans are built with a traditional school structure in mind, which is helpful for students who are transitioning from public to homeschooling.
Connections Academy focuses entirely on online homeschool classes. The academy hosts classes for all grades entirely for free. There aren’t even costs for textbooks or other materials. Students can sign up for afterschool programs, which are overseen by Learning Coaches. These function like online clubs, giving students the chance to interact with one another outside of the virtual classroom. At higher educational levels, the academy even provides guidance counselors, career advisors, and additional classes for SAT and other standardized tests.