My mom made homeschooling look like a breeze. When I envisioned my own future as a homeschool parent, it seemed all too easy! Then, I had kids. As young children, I could barely keep them from destroying my entire house. So naturally, I wondered, how in the world will I teach them how to read?
This is a common reason why many parents choose to forego homeschooling — they simply don’t know how they’ll keep up with it all!
Hold up. Don’t give up just yet! The beauty of modern-day homeschooling is that your students don’t have to rely solely on you for their whole homeschool education. As technology advances and more parents choose to homeschool, we have seen immense growth in the usage of online homeschool curricula offering a wide array of subjects for each grade level.
With this growth, you may find it difficult to decide just which curriculum is best for your student; there are so many options! When searching for the best online Christian homeschool program, here are a few questions to ask:
What worldview do you want your students to learn from?
Many parents choose to homeschool because they want their children to be influenced by a Christian worldview—one generally not found in public (or even private) schools. I think it’s safe to say that your child won’t receive a faith-based education in public school.
Science, for example, can take different routes when it comes to worldview. Most secular curriculums will set a foundation for “the big bang” theory and evolution-based science. And even Christian homeschool curricula can take different approaches.
At Journey Homeschool Academy, our mission states, “…we invite lively discussion on current events, modern scientific discoveries, and engagement with the vibrant world God has created.” We want to expose our students to what the wider world—and the wider church—is saying, especially when it intersects with the sciences. We want students to ask good questions and begin thinking deeper about how science and faith interact.
None of our elementary (Level A) courses bring up age of the earth questions or talk about evolutionary principles, but they all consistently speak about the Creator of the universe.
However, as students get older we do believe there is a time students need to be equipped with a general understanding of the theory of evolution and various age of the earth questions because they’ll encounter these topics throughout their lives. They need to learn to think critically about these topics when they encounter them in the world.
When choosing an online homeschool program, make sure the mission, values, and worldviews of the program match those you want for your student.
How much teaching do you want to outsource?
Maybe you feel comfortable teaching language arts but have no clue where to even begin with biology. Some programs offer individual classes, so your student is part-time online and part-time under your teaching wing. Or perhaps you want a full-time online curriculum that gives your homeschooler the opportunity to receive an education without you being the “teacher.”
Much of this depends on how involved you want to be and how your child learns best. If you have previously homeschooled on your own with no outside teaching program, you may find outsourcing just one or two classes you feel weak in works well for you.
For his first year of high school, one family I know had their oldest son take just one online class. As he adjusted to that learning environment, his mom added more classes for the next year. The classes she chose for him to take were the ones she felt least prepared to teach.
For your family, this could mean you start out by just dipping your toes into the water of online homeschooling. If you have previously homeschooled without an outside teaching program, you may find that a gradual transition to full-time is best. Again, the beauty of homeschooling is that you can be flexible, so take advantage of that perk!
How hands-on do you want your student’s education to be?
Each student has different strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to identify how your student will learn best.
Younger children may have a more difficult time being online for the entire day, while high schoolers may thrive in and even prefer this learning environment (the online accountability can be especially beneficial for this grade level!).
But not everyone loves to learn while staring at a screen. For me, the textbook and hands-on learning aided me far more than clicking a mouse and scrolling through digital print. But, I did find that I benefited immensely from a solid balance of textbooks, hands-on projects, and online resources.
If your student is like me, they’ll love the combination-style learning that Journey Homeschool Academy offers. Our biology course, for example, combines video lessons, lab assignments, research questions, online quizzes, and textbook reading assignments to create a “best of both worlds” curriculum.
Because there are so many different approaches to homeschooling, you may find it helpful to figure out which philosophy of homeschooling you best align with.
What is your long-term vision for homeschooling?
Consider your long-term vision and goals. There are many choices when it comes to online curricula.
- Do you want a program that will carry each of your children through their entire education without having to switch up the curriculum?
- Would you like your kids to be able to learn together, regardless of their level?
- Do you plan to homeschool your student for the rest of their education?
If you’re considering using an online curriculum long-term, carefully consider which program will best suit your student as they move from one grade to the next.
However, be sure to hold your plans loosely. While it’s important (and helpful) to plan ahead and think long-term, remember that this is homeschooling and there are no strict guidelines to doing it right! You aren’t stuck with one curriculum if it’s not working or you want to try something new.
Can your high school student earn credit on their transcript?
Watching a YouTube video about the life cycle of a plant can help your homeschooler learn and understand, but it won’t give your student the credits needed for their high school transcript.
When choosing the best Christian homeschool curriculum, be sure your student can get valid credit for the courses completed. HSLDA gives guidelines on determining credit for high school. Generally speaking, students to need to spend about 150 hours on a class for one high school credit.
Some online courses offer the number of hours needed for high school credit, while others do not. The courses we offer at Journey Homeschool Academy will allow your teen to complete the hours required by most states for high school credit and graduation and many of our classes can even be considered honors level!
And the best homeschool curriculum is…
- …one that fits the needs of your family
That was the shortest bullet-point list ever, but it’s true! No online program or curriculum is going to be one-size-fits-all, because no homeschooling family or student is the same. But, by asking the questions listed above, you will be well on your way to choosing a curriculum that fits the needs of your family and maybe even makes homeschooling fun for both you and your student!
Check out Free Previews & Samples
One of the best ways to determine if a course is right for you is to take advantage of the free previews and samples many curriculum providers offer. Gather your kids around. Spend time watching videos and reading through the material. Try a few out for comparison before making your final decision!
You can check out free previews of all of our courses at Journey Homeschool Academy by using the button below! Watch the lessons, download samples of the lab guides and student adventure guides, and even see what quizzes look like.
And don’t forget we have a fabulous fit promise — so you don’t have to be stuck with a course that’s not right for your family!