There are so many options for web-based learning, but what are the benefits of online school for homeschoolers? Take a peek inside a day-in-the-life of a homeschool family who has chosen online schooling as their homeschool method of choice.
Have you ever felt spread too thin? Drained from planning, gathering materials, and teaching? Wished that you had more time and energy for what you children want to learn?
Today I’m talking with Layna, a mom of two who has found a key piece for balancing homeschooling, a toddler, volunteering, extracurricular activities, and motherhood: online school.
Just a few years ago, this homeschool method was unheard of! Today, there are dozens of options for online school including virtual classes, gaming school, and online public school.
Homeschool families have found many benefits to online school. Virtual classes take major pressure off homeschool moms with ready-to-go curriculum maps, lesson plans, and grades.
Another benefit of online school: with the major subjects covered, many moms feel that they have more time and energy to dedicate to their children’s interests.
In the following interview, Layna shares her thoughts about the benefits of online school for her homeschooling family.
What are the benefits of online school for your family?
When we decided to home school, I knew we wanted to use an online curriculum. I needed someone else to devise lessons and build a program that my daughter could follow. Using an online platform meant that I could easily create reports, store school work and reports online, and easily organize all of it for future reference.
What curriculum would you recommend for online homeschooling?
After weeks of research and trying to find something that met our needs, I finally found Time 4 Learning (T4L). They offer an online platform at an affordable price.
Grades are broken down into subjects (math, science, language arts and social studies for us this past year), with some supplementary tools (Science 4 Us and Language Arts Extensions) that helped with skill building and understanding. T4L also offers electives, including foreign languages, which we plan to use next year.
Is your homeschool strictly online, or do you use other resources as well?
In addition to T4L, we use a lot of different tools for what I call “supplementary education.” These lessons do not necessarily follow T4L’s lesson plan but support my daughter’s other needs, such as social growth and physical activity.
We have used various sports and Girl Scouts for physical and social education. We have created entire extra lessons around holidays. For example, we read all about Dia de los Muertos, wrote a mini report, watched CoCo and even made an ofrenda for our loved ones who have passed on.
We also use art, music, a grade appropriate workbook, the Book It! program to encourage reading goals, write to pen pals to practice writing skills, use educational games to support subjects like math and science, typing games, practice tests to prepare for the nationally recognized end of year tests, volunteering within our community, and an array of other things to create “life lessons”.
What does your typical homeschool day look like?
A normal day in our homeschooling lifestyle starts with logging onto T4L, after breakfast, and completing the assigned work within each subject. During lessons, my daughter takes notes that she can review later. We take breaks between subjects to get the “wiggles” out.
During my toddler’s nap time, my daughter is assigned a couple of tasks that she can complete with minimal help from me. Usually that includes some reading and a couple extra assignments. The extra assignments range from workbook pages, to art, to piano lessons using an app on my iPad, or a writing assignment.
After she has completed her tasks, she has free time. Once my toddler wakes up, we eat lunch and start our afternoon with educational online games or we prepare for afternoon activities. Afternoon activities include various sports or girl scouts, depending on the season and day of the week.
On a weekly basis we try to make sure to do at least 4 extra curricular activities such as sports, girl scouts, or volunteering.
We end our days with a daily chore and school tracking, which includes a list of activities (i.e. school, reading, art, typing practice, sports) on a school planner and a more in depth journal entry.
I use the calendar for tracking our daily “attendance” and the journal requires her to reflect on her day. The calendar tracks school and everything we did beyond T4L. Her journal entries include at least one detail from each item listed in her calendar and a summary of the day.
How do you stay organized between online school and all your day-to-day activities?
Because we have a basic routine, days start easily and we just go with the flow until bedtime. To keep track of all of our extra curricular activities, I have various calendars posted around the house. Each month, I write in activities, field trips, meal plans (2 weeks at a time) and appointments. This gives us a way to see what is ahead each day, week and month and plan our time accordingly.
If you are following an online lesson plan, a structured weekly planner might feel like overkill! However, where do you track your supplemental units, extracurriculars, and field trips that count as school?
Take a look at our easy, no-fuss solution:The Homeschool Portfolio. Simple checklists and journaling for your homeschool record-keeping.
What advice would you give to someone interested in starting an online program?
If you are new to homeschooling in general, do not expect to find your flow immediately. We did not find a real flow until after Christmas break. T4L is an easy program to follow and if you use their lesson plan, you will find a flow quicker than I did. If you decide to let life dictate your schedule, you will find more freedom but the flow will come a little later.
Find out more…
Read more about Layna’s approach to motherhood and homeschooling on her website, Mom Schoolin.
Are you a new homeschooler? Find answers, advice, and support here.