In the beautiful (if humid!) summer weather, the kids are enjoying time outside…but I’m thinking about homeschooling. I’ve recently discovered some new online resources, and they’re jiving with what my kids are interested in right now, so I’m eager to use them — and to share!
I’ve been talking a lot about homeschooling with other moms lately, because so many people are thinking about starting this year, what with everything that’s going on. (Long-term distance learning, masks in the classroom, small classes, social distancing….) But many have elementary or middle school students who have always been in public school, and they have no idea where to start.
I get it.
Luckily, there are a lot of amazing resources available now, so teaching is not all on you. It’s possible to use online options, both free and low-cost, to build up an awesome experience for your child, completely dependent on their interests!
I thought I’d give you all a peek at what we’re loving for our kids right now, and how we’re using these resources to support their talents and passions. Make sure you sign up for my email list, so you can grab my record-keeping documents! (They’re free, and a great way to track what your homeschooler is actually doing.)
Our Favorite Online Resources for Homeschooling
Our family unschools, which basically means that our kids completely direct their education. That doesn’t mean we ignore them and let them figure it all out on their own; it means that we work closely with them to help them learn — but they get to decide what they really do. If this is a totally unique idea for you, don’t miss my post on Unschooling Questions if you are not sure how it really works! (You can find all my posts on unschooling HERE.)
We’re lucky to have an awesome local community, and that helps meet a lot of our needs. We have friends with talents in art, music, math, science, sports, and lots more. We meet weekly for a homeschool coop where we mostly do little science projects. (And we handle core subjects this way.)
But there are things our kids are interested in that either we don’t have the skills to do on our own, or we don’t have the time to do, which is where some of our favorite online resources come in!
One of our new favorite online resources is called Outschool.
Have you ever wished there was a virtual classroom, with a teacher who is available live to teach your child any subject imaginable? Well, this is it. They have hundreds of teachers and over 15,000 different classes, on everything from anatomy to animal studies to cake decorating to engineering, and lots more.
Classes are available for kids 3 – 18. Some are one-time meetings, and some meet for several weeks (or even a full semester). Some are 30-min classes, some are longer. There’s a huge, wide range available. Costs vary from about $6 to $15 for a one-time class, so it’s pretty affordable. (Costs are higher for multi-day or week classes, of course.)
For us, we were looking into engineering classes especially. My almost 9-year-old has decided he wants to be an engineer, and spends his day building things and drawing designs, and he can’t wait to take some classes to learn more. I’m excited that he can explore this passion at a young age and either decide it isn’t for him (before he invests thousands into a college education!) or decide it definitely is for him, and get a bunch of early, beneficial experiences.
Classes we’re considering right now:
- An Introduction to Engineering
- Engineering of Everyday Things for Kids
- How to Take Things Apart Safely
- The Perilous Castle: An Immersive Murder Mystery Experience
- Cake Decorating for Beginners 1 (for my daughter who wants to own a bakery!)
- Creates of Myth: The Deep Sea
- Traditional Karate for Kids: Introduction to Basic Blocks, Strikes and Stances
A lot of these will give the kids a taste of a new subject (like karate!) before we have to invest in traditional classes and uniforms and such. We’re really excited about it.
In addition to homeschoolers, Outschool has plenty of summer/evening/weekend classes so that families can use them as enrichment opportunities for the kids, no matter where they go to school.
By the way, if you’d like to look into it, or try out a class or two, sign up HERE and get $20 off your first class!
Other Favorite Online Resources
We also really enjoy:
- K5 Learning
- Dad’s Worksheets
- Krazy Dad
- Memory Improvement Tips (Sudoku and other puzzles)
- Desert Chica (a homeschooling mom with some fun DIY projects)
We have tried Reading Eggs/Math Seeds, and…I’m not a big fan. The 5 and 7 year olds didn’t really like Reading Eggs. They found it kind of boring, and the lessons seemed to jump all over the place in terms of difficulty. In one section, it would ask my 7-year-old to tap the screen each time a letter popped up, and then in the next section it was asking him to read a short story! His skill level fell decidedly in the middle of those two, so he quickly grew frustrated and gave up.
Math Seeds we liked a little better…but found it rather slow to progress, and not all the skill sections made sense. For example, in a fairly early level, the student had to pick out the written word “seventeen” (and other number words) and that’s not a math skill, that’s a reading skill, and no, my 5-year-old can’t read that word yet. My 7-year-old almost tested into a way too easy math level on the initial test because of reading questions, so I had him redo it.
So…they’re sort of fun, they have brightly colored graphics and fun music, and kids like “playing” with it. But I didn’t feel the activities matched the appropriate skill sets or built on each other well, so when our free trial ran out, I didn’t purchase a subscription.
Those are just my thoughts! I hope it’s helpful. 🙂