Blog

Favorite Online Homeschool Resources

A few well-placed online homeschool resources can be of such value.

Each year when my children were young I always tried to incorporate some form of online learning. Children need to be familiar with this type of learning. It is the future.

While it has never been our PRIMARY mode of learning, as my children got older it played a more important role.

Because we are in the season of choosing and purchasing curriculum, I want to share a few of our best picks with you. Some are current. Some are past. Some are for multiple ages. Some are for youngers. Some are for olders. Some are live online courses; others are recorded. Some contain resources we access with frequency online.

All, however, win the Homegrown Learners seal of approval!

There is something for EVERYONE in this list.

Favorite Online #Homeschool Resources

Full Online Courses

The following sites offer entire online courses. Some of them are accredited, others are not.

Some offer FULL grading and are 100% hands-off for the parents, others only offer the teaching while the grading is kept track of by the parent.

Still others are more of simply presenting information for information’s sake without a grade.

I enjoyed giving my children a little bit of everything - that is the beauty of homeschooling!

Veritas Press History

The self-paced history courses from Veritas were always a HUGE hit.

From the elementary into the middle school years, my children enjoyed the engaging lessons. I enjoyed the fact that I could set them down in front of the computer for at least 45 minutes and they were getting an excellent history education.

Couple this with the suggest literature list that comes with a Veritas self paced history course and you’re set for the year.

  • Note: Until August 19 at midnight receive $100 off any self paced course!

Experience Astronomy & Experience Biology

Experience Astronomy is a full year course. There are elementary, middle, and high school levels.

My son took this course as a 6th grader and learned inordinate amounts from Luke Gilkerson, the teacher and author of the course. I loved that it was taught from a Biblical point of view and my son could also be fairly independent while taking the course.

With recorded lectures from Mr. Gilkerson, as well as supplemental activities and quizzes, this will satisfy a science requirement - and more importantly satisfy a curiosity in Astronomy.

Homeschool Spanish Academy

What a wonderful surprise Homeschool Spanish Academy has been this year!

Basically, my son is taking a 1 credit Spanish class this year online. He receives 60 sessions over the course of a year. These lesson are PRIVATE, and you wouldn’t believe how much learning can be accomplished in this way!

Using Google Hangouts, Grant logs on with his Spanish teacher twice a week (we can schedule the classes at our convenience, which is very nice) and is working through the Spanish I curriculum.

If you are looking for a wonderful Spanish provider, I suggest you look into Homeschool Spanish Academy!

Compass Classroom

Compass Classroom has long been a trusted resource for our family.

We have used Word Up! vocabulary program and Visual Latin.

This year we are using Dave Raymond’s American History video curriculum.

Raymond’s lessons are based on STORY are the entire curriculum is authored with a Biblical worldview.

Mr. D Math

Mr. D Math was my daughter’s math curriculum for high school.

She had a lot of success with Mr. D - not only is his curriculum sound and engaging, Mr. D is a wonderful person who is the biggest champion of homeschoolers you will ever meet.

Many people ask me about Saxon, Mr. D Math and Shormann.

Every child is different. In my house Saxon worked well until high school. Then, for my non-math child Mr. D Math worked well. For my highly math child, we are going with Shormann. I encourage you to investigate each one thoroughly for yourself.

Shormann Math

My son is on his second year of Shormann Math. (Eight out of the eleven students in his Challenge 1 group are using Shormann, so we’re all sold!)

We chose this for Grant because of the strong SAT/ACT test prep built in as well as the Biblical worldview. It has considerably LESS spiraling than Saxon Math, which is what seems to bog down most children.

This curriculum is recorded video - self paced. Everything is graded for you, so it could (in theory) be 100% hands off for the homeschool parent.

Students learn how to take notes, see math through a Biblical lens, and work independently. While not technically a “classroom” environment, I like that it is math from an expert and I am hands off.

Memoria Press Academy

Memoria Press has been a great choice for three full online courses for my daughter. She took AP European History and Henle Latin I and II.

A fully accredited school, Memoria’s Press’ academy is rigorous, organized, and of the highest quality.

If you are looking to 100% outsource a subject (s) - I highly recommend Memoria Press Online Academy!

HSLDA Online Academy

Many people don’t realize HSLDA has an academy.

They do (for grades 7-12), and it’s wonderful! My daughter had an exceptional experience taking AP Exposition and Composition - she will tell you it was the BEST class she took in high school. It prepared her for essay writing for college and just honed her writing skills in general.

Her teacher was encouraging, easy to contact, and provided a college letter of recommendation. I got the impression that her teacher truly CARED about each individual student and helping them succeed.

HSLDA is accredited and offers a full range of courses.

Again - this is an excellent place to outsource your high school classes!


Homeschool Printables/Resources/Recorded Lessons

Productive Homeschool (formerly Notebooking Pages)

Notebooking Pages were an INTEGRAL part of our homeschool in the elementary and middle grade years. The site is still basically the same - simply with a new name. Check out Productive Homeschooling.

Free Homeschool Resources (Notebooking Pages & More!)

SQUILT LIVE! Music Appreciation

SQUILT Music Appreciation (my baby) brings live music appreciation lessons to children ages preschool - middle school.

A membership to SQUILT LIVE! includes two live lessons each month, a curated monthly listening calendar, and access to the ENTIRE ARCHIVES of recorded lessons and lesson packets - this is FIFTY additional lessons at your disposal.

Children need beautiful music - and the byproduct of a solid music appreciation education is a child who has developed the habit of attention and the ability to listen for intricacies in any piece of music.


You Are An Artist! Clubhouse and Video Lessons

I’m sure you know about Chalk Pastels, right?

One of my children’s most fond memories was when we had an Angry Birds day in our homeschool. The highlight of that day was our Angry Birds chalk pastel tutorial.

Chalk Pastels are just such a wonderful art medium for children. And, at You ARE An Artist there is so much to choose from. My personal favorite is the American Landmarks lessons.

American Landmarks from Sea to Shining Sea

Your Morning Basket/Homeschool Solutions

Another “good thing” in our homeschool has been (and continues to be) Morning Time.

At Homeschool Solutions, Pam Barnhill has ready made morning time plans, along with a lot of other tools to help you plan your school year effectively.

I love the subscription Pam has that includes 37 different sets of Morning Time plans!

That rounds out my online homeschool resource recommendation list! Do you have a favorite online resource for homeschooling?

Tell me about it in the comments below.

Why Schools Will Always Fail to Educate Children

It's a bold statement. 

Schools will always fail to educate children. 

Schools are effective in many areas, but not in the area of education. Schools function as economical child care centers. They disseminate and test standardized knowledge. Schools level the playing field with relatively great ease. Schools are successful in perpetuating groupthink.

If you want your children educated, however, don't send them to school. 

Nine years ago we decided to abandon the IDEAL of public school in favor of homeschool - precisely because I came to the realization the schools were never going to be able to EDUCATE my children.

This decision was not arrived at lightly. I was the product of public schools. I have degrees in education - an advanced one in Educational Leadership and Supervision. You might say I used to be heavily invested in the success of the public schools. 

I want to shake people who tell me why they can't homeschool, because I know it CAN BE DONE. Our children are precious and we must stop subjecting them to substandard public education which assumes so little of them. The future of our nation depends on it - and if I may be so bold - I think we are witnessing a steady decline in our nation because of generations of adults who have been educated by increasingly failing public schools.

At the end of this post I have a suggested reading list for you. These are books that I read before and during our homeschool journey. We must be educated ourselves and articulate why we do what we do. I pray this post emboldens and encourages you!

 

Why Schools Will Always Fail to Educate Children

Whether you are a veteran homeschooler or just contemplating this idea of homeschooling, you need to be aware of definitions and painful truths. I will do that here today.

Before I continue, let me clarify what education means to me. Definition of a term is important, and I hope we're on the same page with this one: 

 

Education is a process of inviting truth and possibility, of encouraging and giving time to discovery. Education is an ongoing set of social, moral and academic skills necessary for children to thrive in life.

 

Education is NOT obtaining a set of skills for a job. It is NOT acquiring the tools to be a productive citizen. It is SO MUCH more than that.


Reasons Traditional Schools Fail (and will Continue to Fail) to Educate Children

Why Schools Will Always Fail to Educate Children

 

Schools Are Built for Adults - NOT Children

I first heard this when I was pursuing my Master's Degree in Educational Leadership and Supervision. It was a problem plaguing public schools twenty years ago, and it still plagues them today.

Consider just a few ways we construct schools and school days for adults and NOT children:

  • Length of School Day - Shorter school days would be met with opposition from working parents who need children taken care of while they work - yet we know shorter days are better for children.
  • Classroom Setup - Control is much easier for teachers when children are made to sit in cramped desks in overcrowded classrooms.
  • Academic Agendas - All students in a classroom follow basically the same path - for the convenience of the teacher.  How in the world could one teacher create individualized education plans for 25 students in his/her classroom?
  • Busy Work - Teachers need to be able to keep all children "engaged" during the school day. To keep from mayhem ensuing, teacher assign busy work like word searches and crossword puzzles. UGH.
  • Testing - How do schools demonstrate they are performing? Test scores. Many times school funding and teacher pay are linked to test scores. Is it best for the children? No one really considers that, do they?

 

Schools Are Built on a Conformity/Commodity Model

The entire foundation of our American public school system (based on the Prussian model of education) began in New England in the 1850s.

Our nation needed a way to deal with increasing waves of immigrants. America needed a unified spirit and goal. The result of this was conformity. 

(If you look at schools today most of them have the same physical appearance - the same as prisons. They are designed to house and control large numbers of children. Honestly, next time you drive by a school ask yourself if it looks like an appealing place to spend nearly 8 hours each day - 9 months each year.)

The goal is this: children should CONFORM to the system and children are a COMMODITY which is run through the system over the course of twelve years. 

Step back and REALLY look at it. Is your child a unique child in a public school, or are they simply a cog in the wheel - a number to be counted and measured? 

As we know, children are created uniquely by God. Conformity really isn't such a good thing for children if they are going to develop their abilities and talents, yet conformity is encouraged and celebrated in public schools.

 

Reasons Schools Fail to Educate Children

The Eight-Hour Dummies

Please forgive my crass verbiage here. The term "eight-hour dummy", however, is one that was prevalent when I was a teacher. 

Simply put, if your child doesn't CONFORM, they will be given a label. This label explains why they don't FIT IN, why they don't learn the same as everyone else.This label means there is something wrong with your child and THEY must be fixed. There must be accommodations and modifications made. They might even be put in a different class of children.

These children, surprisingly enough, only have this "problem" at school - during the eight hours they are within the school walls. Once they leave the school they are just KIDS - with all of their foibles and the like. These "eight-hour dummies" are made to feel as though there is something wrong with THEM, something that warrants a label. 

A side note: many "eight-hour dummies" have turned out to be some of America's greatest thinkers and innovators. Funny how that works.

In truth, the vast majority of the time, the child is just being who God created them to be. The onus should not be on the CHILD to change. They simply do not thrive in the CONFORMITY model of public education.

My heart breaks for these children - many of whom don't have an advocate at home, or whose parents actually might buy into the belief  their child is flawed in some way. 

We lose these students down the line. They feel "less than" or they just give up altogether. It is perhaps the greatest tragedy of our education system today.

 

Most Schools Are Run by the Government
 

It is absurd to believe a bureaucratic government can possibly make well-informed decisions about education. Even though education is a function of the states, shifting national standards (hello Common Core) impact the delivery of education in a myriad of ways. 

Pesky things like money, politics, and egos come into play and once again the best interests of our children are left in the dust.

Once again, while the adults are sorting it all out, our children are growing and changing. Many times, if you seek to effect educational change in your own local school system your own children will be out of the system by the time the change is enacted. 

The popular saying - "Babies won't keep" is so true. Except in this instance we should say "Students won't keep." 


 

The Idea of "Education for All" is Just an IDEAL

The model of public education is a pie-in-the-sky ideal. 

I remember the argument I received from many when we decided to leave the public schools. It always went something like this: 

"If all educated and involved families abandon the public schools, what will education look like for the rest of the children? We all need to be invested in the system to make it work."
 

Well guess what. Here's a great response to that one:  "We are not willing to sacrifice our children for an ideal. My children are too precious for me to throw them into a system and pray change will come about, or for me to waste my valuable time and energy hoping for a change."

Can you IMAGINE the frustration bubbling just below the surface of so many of our public schooled children? 

Why Schools Fail to Educate Children

THIS is Why We Homeschool

After all of the things I witnessed as a student, teacher, and parent in the public school system, it was time to go. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to homeschool my children. 

I am thankful to have been practicing my outside-the-box thinking for the past nine years. It comes in handy in so many other areas of life! The following books will be encouraging and helpful to you as you either travel down the homeschool road or contemplate taking the leap away from traditional school into homeschool. 

Because my oldest is approaching college age, we've also been having interesting discussions and discoveries about going (or not going) to college, and what the value of a college education might (or might not) be. Food for thought. I've included a couple of books for this, too. 


 

Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child's EducationWhat Does it Mean to Be Well Educated? And Other Essays on Standards, Grading, and Other FolliesHow Children Learn, 50th anniversary edition (A Merloyd Lawrence Book)Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book Of HomeschoolingYou, Your Child, and School: Navigate Your Way to the Best EducationExcellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful LifeWhere You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania

 

I'd love a respectful discussion of whether or not you think schools are capable of truly educating children.

Leave me a comment below and we'll get one started!