What is Homeschooling Online?

Homeschooling online goes by many names: cyber schools, distance learning, virtual classroom, and e-learning, just to name a few. The basic premise of homeschooling online is that the homeschool curriculum is delivered via the computer with the source of the content being either the Internet or CD-Rom. Although many of the same benefits to homeschooling in general are also found in online homeschooling, there are considerations to take into account before you decide to homeschool online. After considering these and determining that online is a viable option for your child, you then will need to select an online home school program.

Flexibility of online learning

A girl and her mom using the computer.The online learning environment is very conducive to home education. Homeschooling online allows for a great amount of flexibility, allowing your child to access the curriculum, engage with the content through multimedia activities, lessons, quizzes, and tests, and interact with other students and instructors through discussion boards, chat, and email. The nice thing about an Internet-based homeschool program is that they can do this from where ever they have a connection to the Internet.  With wireless technology becoming more widespread, this could be just about anywhere!

Expert curriculum materials

One thing that parents find to be overwhelming is that they are not content experts in all of the subjects that their child will be studying, especially in the upper level math, science, and foreign language courses. Even if you are comfortable with the subject, there may be some concepts that are very asbstract and difficult to teach. Homeschooling online removes this barrier for parents as the online homeschooling program provides the content in an engaging and appropriate way.  Your child may need to read information, watch a short video, interact with a mutlimedia activity, or practice problems to learn the curriculum and demonstrate their knowledge of the subject. The introduction, teaching, and practice as well as assessment of the subject is handled by the online home school program.

Self-paced, self-directed

A boy using a laptop.In many cases, homeschooling online requires a child to be self-paced, self-directed learners, which many homeschooled children already are.  Some programs will provide a diagnostic assessment to determine what your child’s academic needs are and then prescribe a course of study based upon those needs, and others may allow you to pick and choose the content that you feel is most appropriate. Depending upon the homeschool program that you choose, your child can work quickly through the curriculum, or if you’ve established a home school schedule, they can work at a pre-determined pace.  The pacing is decided by you, the parent, and is not guided by the content, which is available on demand.

CD-Rom curriculum

Although many of the more popular homeschooling online programs are provided through the Internet, there are still a number of programs that deliver the content by CD-Rom. CD-Rom based lessons are very powerful in that they provide immediate access to the content and can be reviewed as needed, especially before a chapter or unit test or while writing a summary or research paper. Like online programs, the content is designed to address all of the different learning styles and is usually very engaging and interactive with images, diagrams, and audio and video that makes the content come alive. Your child can take quizzes and tests, receiving immediate feedback. One benefit to CD-Rom based programs is that they do not require Internet access, only the disc to access the curriculum. Complete textbooks are available on CD-Rom discs, making this a great alternative to purchasing a large, expensive textbook, especially if you are using the textbook-based homeschool method.  You can usually contact the textbook publisher to find out if their materials have been published to CD-Rom.


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