Best Online Homeschool Curriculum | ConsumerAffairs (2023)

It’s essential to know what to look for when comparing online homeschool programs. Consider the age of your child-student and how much curriculum you want the school to provide. Some parents are comfortable planning the bulk of the curriculum at first and choose to enroll in a program later on. Remember that you can adjust your curriculum based on how a program is working for you.

Be sure to select a fully accredited program if your child plans to attend college. Budgeting is another concern for most families — keep in mind that many public schools now offer tuition-free online programs.

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You should also consider how the coursework is structured and how students are evaluated. Look for clubs, organizations or other extracurricular activities that support healthy social interactions. Educational support and resources are essential for both students and parents.

Online school accreditation

Accredited online schools are recognized by the Department of Education. An online school must meet requirements that allow its students to be accepted into a higher learning institution or receive legitimate credentials to receive accreditation. That means they have a school number to use for college entrance exams and federal financial aid, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

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Students who attend an accredited online school usually transfer credits if they switch to an in-person school. Those who graduate from an accredited online school obtain a diploma and can apply directly to a college or university.

Be aware that students who graduate from an unaccredited school will likely need to take the General Education Development (GED) exam or another high school equivalency test before applying to college. Additionally, college-bound student-athletes should also be sure their school is accredited by the NCAA.

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  • Public online school accreditations: One of the most popular accrediting bodies for online schools is Cognia (formerly AdvancED). Cognia utilizes the same policies and procedures for accreditation as standard regional divisions, including the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA-CESS) and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS-CASI)
  • Private online school accreditations: Private online schools are eligible for the same accreditations as public programs. State and regional accreditation agencies, such as the Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE), may award additional certificates.
  • Homeschooling laws: Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, and no states currently require a homeschool to be accredited. Some states consider any online education to be the same as homeschooling. However, states set individual laws. In many states, students must take standardized tests or homeschooling parents must submit a lesson plan or a portfolio to document their child’s progress.

Cost of homeschooling online

The cost of homeschooling online can range almost free to several thousand dollars per year. Families don’t have to pay tuition for students to attend an online public school, but they are responsible for school supplies. To find tuition-free accredited public online schools in your state, visit the U.S. Department of Education.

The average cost to homeschool a child is
$300 - $600 per year

Private schools that charge tuition usually have options for payment plans and offer some kind of financial aid program to qualifying students.

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  • Annual or semester-based tuition: The majority of private online educational programs require an upfront payment each semester or school year. Some schools let you pay these in installments throughout the year or term, but nearly all require your bill to be paid before your student can begin the next semester.
  • Per-course tuition: Several online schools and curriculum providers let families purchase individual courses, either for a term or throughout an entire year. This can be a good way to supplement another curriculum or try out a school before committing to a full year’s tuition.
  • Financial aid options: Some schools offer financial aid through grants or tuition waivers for students who demonstrate economic hardship. Schools may also offer discounts for families of military personnel, first responders, missionaries or pastors and reduced tuition for families with more than one student enrolled at the school.

Class structure and format

Online schools vary in format. Some are completely conducted on the computer, while others utilize workbooks, textbooks or other supplemental materials or require the parent or caregiver to present some or all of the lessons.

  • Video lessons: Many online schools offer lessons from real teachers through videos, typically followed by lessons that are submitted online and often graded immediately.
  • Text-based lessons: Many schools offer lessons that involve reading a selection of text online before completing assignments. This can be a useful way for students to learn, but it can be difficult for others who struggle with reading comprehension or speed.
  • Mixed format lessons: Many parents and educators think a mix of formats is helpful because it prevents students from becoming bored and allows for different types of information to be presented in optimal ways.
  • Offline instruction with online supplementation: If your child is young, you may not have the option for video or text-based lessons. Most online schools do not offer these options for children before third grade because young children typically can’t read or don’t have experience using a computer. Most schools offer lessons that can be printed or presented in a video format with follow-up activities on paper.

How students are evaluated

Students must pass exams and evaluations in a traditional environment to advance from grade to grade and ultimately graduate from high school. Some online schools follow the same procedure, while others use different ways of evaluating students or do not evaluate students at all.

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  • Standardized testing: Most public and private online schools require the same standardized testing as traditional schools. Often this is mandated by state law; other times, it is a way for an online school to meet accreditation requirements.
  • Ongoing evaluations: Many online schools let students work at their own pace, complete coursework as they can and take an assessment exam at the end of each module. This running evaluation allows for the most up-to-date tracking of your child’s progress.
  • Transferring credits and testing out: Most online schools allow K-12 students to transfer credits from other online schools or traditional schools. Some programs also give students the option to test out of required courses and still receive course credit.

Academic enrichment and educational support

Many programs include ideas for enrichment, such as science projects or community service activities, to help students round out their education and spend time away from the computer. Since many students are hands-on learners, activities can make an abstract lesson more concrete.

There may not be a community of families in your area who use the same online program. Still, as long as there is a vibrant and active homeschooling community that is open to people from different programs, you might be able to find a place for socialization and fellowship.

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Most dedicated online homeschool programs provide support services to students and their educators, ensuring the best chance for academic success.

  • Field trips: Several online schools require or recommend field trips as a part of the curriculum, so students receive credit for completing them. These trips may be to national monuments or museums for a history lesson, different ecosystems in your region for a lesson in science or a local civic center or courthouse for a lesson in social studies.
  • Academic counseling services: Many online schools assign every student to a dedicated academic counselor who helps choose the right courses and plan the student’s academic trajectory. Counselors also help troubleshoot academic difficulties and give guidance about college and career readiness.
  • Certified teachers: Most online schools employ certified teachers to design their curricula and present video lessons. Some schools also let parents and students talk with teachers by video conference or phone call to help troubleshoot difficult material or talk through projects.
  • Homeschooling communities: If you choose a large online school, you can likely find a regional support group or community with others in your city who are homeschooling through the same program. Smaller programs may not have regional groups, but they might have online forums to help you make friends and find social support for yourself and your students.

FAQs

Which homeschool programs are accredited in Texas? ›

What Are The Texas Credit Homeschool Options?
  • Calvert Education.
  • Well-Trained Mind.
  • Time4Learning.
  • Texas Tech University.
  • Oak Meadow.
22 Jun 2022

What is the cheapest homeschooling program out there? ›

Best Affordable Homeschooling Programs
  • K12. K12 Online School is a platform that provides all the educational materials you will need for your children to get a school education. ...
  • Time4Learning.com. ...
  • Khan Academy. ...
  • ABCmouse. ...
  • Easy Peasy. ...
  • BJU Press. ...
  • Alpha Omega. ...
  • Used Homeschool School Books.

What is the most used curriculum? ›

The British curriculum is the most successful and widely used in the world.

Do Colleges accept homeschool diplomas? ›

Yes, colleges and universities will accept a homeschool diploma. There may be very few exceptions out there but for the most part, these centers for higher learning are more than happy to include those with a homeschool education in their student body.

Is Khan Academy good for homeschooling? ›

Khan Academy is an essential homeschooling resource, especially for math. It won't help with early reading, but it's great for older kids.

What homeschool programs are accredited? ›

Many of them are adaptable to different teaching styles.
  • Calvert. Calvert has been providing homeschool programs for 110 years. ...
  • K12. K12 provides online homeschool courses tailored to the age and skills of your children. ...
  • Bridgewater. ...
  • The Keystone School. ...
  • Time4Learning. ...
  • Forest Trail Academy. ...
  • Laurel Springs School. ...
  • Oak Meadow.

Is there any free homeschool curriculum? ›

Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool: This is a complete K-12, online, totally free curriculum in the Charlotte Mason style. Ambleside Online: This is another completely online option in the Charlotte Mason style. Khan Academy: They are a nonprofit that works to provide top-notch education to any and every student.

How many hours a day is required for homeschooling in Texas? ›

7. How many hours a day are we required to do school? Homeschools in Texas are private schools and are not regulated by the state. No minimum hours are required.

How do homeschoolers get a diploma in Texas? ›

Students must have a minimum of 22 completed credits to graduate in Texas and receive a diploma. Parents determine when their student has fulfilled graduation requirements and can issue their own homeschool diploma; students of private/online schools may receive diplomas from those institutions.

Do I need to register my child to homeschool in Texas? ›

There is no need to register or in any way contact the local school or the state government prior to homeschooling, unless your student is currently in public school (see rules for withdrawal from public school). If your child has never been enrolled in public school, simply obtain curriculum and begin.

Is Easy peasy homeschool enough? ›

After reading through many Easy Peasy homeschool reviews on this program, I've concluded that it is enough. Parents don't have to supplement it with other material. One of the mothers in the reviews forum said, 'It has everything you could need. '

Is abeka a good curriculum? ›

Abeka Academy reviews suggest this curriculum is a great way to go if you don't mind replicating a school-at-home approach. I would recommend this program for new homeschooling parents as it is so familiar to many of us who are used to this approach.

How do I start a homeschool curriculum? ›

How to Write Your Own Curriculum for Your Homeschool
  1. THE BIG PICTURE. Your first job is to hone in on what you really want your homeschool — not just your curriculum — to accomplish. ...
  2. NAME YOUR TOPIC. ...
  3. BIG PICTURE SCHEDULE. ...
  4. BREAK IT DOWN. ...
  5. THE FUN STUFF. ...
  6. COMPILE YOUR RESOURCES. ...
  7. PUT IT TOGETHER. ...
  8. ASSESS AND ADAPT.
27 Sept 2017

What curriculum do you use for homeschool? ›

Overview. There are roughly seven main approaches to homeschooling [2]: Classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Unschooling, School-at-Home, Unit studies, and Eclectic education methods. Each of these is introduced hereafter with considerations of the benefits and drawbacks.

What homeschool programs are accredited? ›

Many of them are adaptable to different teaching styles.
  • Calvert. Calvert has been providing homeschool programs for 110 years. ...
  • K12. K12 provides online homeschool courses tailored to the age and skills of your children. ...
  • Bridgewater. ...
  • The Keystone School. ...
  • Time4Learning. ...
  • Forest Trail Academy. ...
  • Laurel Springs School. ...
  • Oak Meadow.

Is Khan Academy enough homeschool? ›

Khan Academy is an essential homeschooling resource, especially for math. It won't help with early reading, but it's great for older kids.

What is Charlotte Mason style curriculum? ›

The Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling uses rich literature and “living books” rather than textbooks or dumbed-down twaddle. Instead of worksheets or answering questions in the back of the book, this style asks the student to retell, or “narrate,” everything he can remember from the reading.

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