Today many teachers, professors, and even government officials show their homeschooling support. 15 years ago I would have presumed that the vast majority of people who were homeschooling their children were to be viewed with skepticism. I`m not so sure about it anymore,” says clinical psychologist and professor of psychology in Canada, Jordan Peterson.
What exactly should you know about homeschooling in 2021? Online homeschool programs and curriculums, accreditation, drawbacks and benefits, legality – read more in this article.
What Is Homeschooling?
The origin of homeschooling goes back to the 1980s in the USA. Until the 1980s it was only possible to shift from traditional education for religious reasons. Now the U.S. authorities tolerate homeschooling regardless of whether the family is religious or not.
For the past 30 years, homeschooling has become a good alternative for online learning during quarantine. More and more parents are taking responsibility for their child’s education and see homeschooling as a way to provide quality education for their children during unstable pandemic conditions.
For example, in the United States, 50,000 children were homeschooled in 1985. In 1992 there were 300,000 and in 1999 there were 850,000 homeschool students.
According to the National Center of Education, 1.1 million children in the U.S. were home-schooled in 2003, which is 2.5% of all students. Today this number is close to 2.5 million students in the US and all experts agree that this growing trend will continue.
Many attractive homeschool programs have been developed over the years for homeschooling students. These programs encourage students to improve and discover new things while developing a strong educational foundation that will ultimately lead students to academic success.
The Legality of Homeschooling in the World
Although homeschooling is legal in many developed countries, parents still must get special permission from the state educational agencies to homeschool their child in the US.
In highly regulated states, homeschoolers are required to submit their curriculum, follow state-approved programs, and pass standardized tests. In moderately regulated states parents are usually required to notify the state in a written way that they will be homeschooling their child; in less regulated states parents are not required to contact educational authorities at all.
Where Homeschooling Is Forbidden?
In some European developed countries, homeschooling is forbidden. In Germany, secondary education can only be received at school. Exceptions are only for children with serious illnesses. Parents who violate the regulations face fines and in some cases even prison. The ban on homeschooling is also introduced in Sweden. The local law requires that homeschooling can only take place in exceptional circumstances.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Homeschooling
As a rule, people homeschool because of dissatisfaction with the school curriculum, the atmosphere in the classroom, toxic behavior, teachers’ attitudes, individual development of the child, and the pace of the school program.
Sometimes children can learn the program faster than their peers or simply require more time to study. Also, they may have special needs, psychological or physical conditions.
Parents seek to raise their child in certain values or traditions, different from those raised in public schools.
As for the benefits of different homeschooling programs compared to traditional education they include:
- The more personalized educational process
- Cheaper alternative
- No deadlines or schedules
- Wide access to technological innovations: AI in education, personalized platforms and solutions, applications, robotic technology, VR, etc.
- Avoid burnout
- Transparency in your child`s progress
- More freedom for your child will open up more possibilities in sports, music, arts, and other activities.
As for the drawbacks of homeschooling and online education most of them include:
- Lack of friendship
- Lack of debate and interaction with other ideas
- Inability to compare progress with other students
Accredited vs Unaccredited Programs
Both of these programs are great options that serve different needs of your education process.
An accredited homeschool program is somewhat a mix of remote/offline education. Such a program is acknowledged and approved by third-party agencies. That means that the educational program usually includes subjects and educational materials that your child will have to study to meet the criteria of accreditation agencies.
At the end of the program, you will receive a certified high school diploma that can be accepted by the US military, colleges, and employers.
Make sure that the program you are choosing is accredited by Cognia, a non-profit organization that gives accreditation to international and US schools.
However, it`s highly recommended to follow up with the regulations of your state.
Different states have different rules. For example, Texas requires that your curriculum includes textbooks, incorporates reading, writing, grammar, and math.
Some of the examples of accredited homeschool programs are such platforms as Bridgeway academy, Abeka, Liberty University Online Academy, k12. Unaccredited programs also include all the materials that accredited homeschooling programs do. However, they do not aim at diploma or degree programs.
Such programs are not accredited by third-party associations and are used as supplementary education to your regular educational process, whether it`s an online education, remote education, etc.
These programs offer a more personalized approach, flexible schedule, a wide array of subjects, and diverse educational tools that may include videos, software, quizzes, tests, etc.
5 Top-Rated Online Homeschool Programs
This is an unaccredited homeschooling program recognized by Elon Musk and Bill Gates.
To become a student at Khan Academy, you don’t need to prepare for or take any special entrance exams. All you need is a computer, the Internet, and most importantly, the desire to learn.
Would you like to listen to a Harvard professor lecture from home? You are welcome. Want to be a virtual Stanford student? It’s possible today.
Salman Khan’s lessons are short, lasting from 5 to 15 minutes. They cover a stunning range of topics, from the basics of arithmetic and algebra to the Electoral College and the French Revolution.
The videos are sequenced from simple to complex from arithmetics to advanced mathematics. Each of Khan’s video lessons focuses on one particular problem, and once that problem has been solved, the student can move on to the next, more difficult one.
Learning takes the form of a computer game. There are levels, rewards, tips, and all the tasks are divided into modules.
The road map on the Khan Academy site is presented in the form of a starry sky. In the process of learning, everyone gets so-called “badges” for their achievements.
There is another map for parents or mentors where they can see which topics from the entire course were covered by the student and for what period of time.
Academy materials can be used not only at home but also in the classroom. For this purpose, the teacher has a special tool – a graph that shows the progress of each student. The work in the classroom and at home is displayed in different colors. And each student can learn at his own pace.
- Free content
- An avalanche of learning materials tailored to each student
- Work at your own pace
- Best platform for self-education recognized worldwide
- Less interactive
- No exercises or tests to verify your understanding of the material
- Self-education rather than traditional homeschooling program
Abeka is a mix of traditional and Christian education. It features both accredited and unaccredited (independent study) homeschooling programs, courses, and materials for different grades from K4 to Electives.
It includes video manuals, tests and quizzes, progress reports, online assistants, digital assessments, textbooks, and anything else that is required for effective education.
Depending on the grade, you`ll get access to an avalanche of subjects ranging from reading, phonetics (K4) to meteorology, physical education, and economics (12th grade).
Abeka Academy is officially supported and validated by the Florida Association of Christian Colleges and Schools and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools.
- Provide textbook materials
- Flexible one-time pricing
- No Internet required
- The grading system for parents
- Support for examination
- Accredited homeschooling programs
- Can be daunting since a lot of material is presented
- Not too much flexibility
- The curriculum is based on the Christian approach, which may not fit everyone
- Upfront pricing
K-12 is another educational organization that provides educational materials and online homeschooling for children.
Their homeschool programs are tailored for each specific grade, from kindergarten homeschool to middle/high school homeschool. You can also organize your curriculum and study core subjects like math, history while mixing them with more specialized classes that include journalism, world languages, music and arts, and even courses aimed at your career development.
Unlike any other homeschooling course, K-12 offers a slightly different approach where you as a parent will work directly with a teacher to track the progress of your child and make changes during the learning process.
- Certified teaching team
- Numerous awards for students
- Career exploration possibilities
- Personalized learning opportunities
- Requires vigorous efforts. Those who don’t pass exams will repeat the grade
- More focus on online learning rather than homeschooling
Time4learning has been on the market since the early 2000s. It`s recognized for highly personalized curriculums that include traditional homeschooling programs, roadschooling, classical homeschooling, multicultural worldschooling, and even programs based on 19th-century educators.
Applying for such programs is very easy since they provide step-by-step guides on how to apply for homeschooling for every state.
As for the grading systems, Time4learning offers curriculums for preschoolers to high school students with traditional subjects that include language arts, math, science, social studies, and specific areas of study like economics, phycology, finance, etc.
- Cancel program any time
- Provides accounts for parents to check the progress and plan activity of their child
- Diverse curriculums
- Lack of flexibility in terms of subjects range
- No accreditation
- Limited electives
Sonlight is an international company that provides personalized curriculum packages (from preschoolers to 12th grade). With Sonlight, choosing a homeschool curriculum has never been that easy. They provide curriculum builders and online at no cost support to choose the best option for your child.
Already have a math program? Swap it out or replace with other subjects and electives. Simply build your own curriculum depending on your child`s strengths and abilities.
Apart from that, Sonlight allows choosing a program by grade, subject, or by level. Each package includes printed materials, teaching tips, lesson plans, and consumable items that are must-haves for exact sciences.
Overall, Sonlight is the best option if you are looking for the best price-quality ratio and a great amount of flexibility in terms of curriculum plans.
- Perfect customization of homeschool curriculums
- At no cost support and consultations from advisors
- 100% money-back guarantee
- Fully planned education for a year with day-by-day, week-by-week lessons plan
- Science and ELA worksheets to track answers for parents
- Will not work for kinesthetic or visual learners
- Christian, literature-based homeschool curriculum would fit some parents
- Some curriculums require aloud reading
What one day was treated with skepticism has evolved into a full-fledged alternative to both public and private schools. Homeschooling is still not the norm, and it is not the best fit for all families.
But as practice and statistics show, it is a relatively inexpensive and very effective alternative to public and private education. Many researchers see this form as a prototype for much-needed school reform because, despite ever-increasing funding for public education, the results are less and less satisfying for parents.
Author’s BIO: Louis Sawyer is a professional writer, editor and a web design expert. She loves writing about technology trends, web development, mobile games and business issues. Also, Louis works as a proofreader at Computools. Follow Louis on Twitter.