Online Homeschooling, Digital Homeschooling, Virtual Homeschool; How it Transformed Our Homeschool
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How Online Homeschooling Transformed My Homeschool
What is Online Homeschooling?Online homeschooling may look different in other homes, but in my home, online homeschooling is a homeschool that does the majority of their learning online, or at least with digital devices. Think digital homeschooling, or even virtual learning in some cases. And I’m not talking about this public school virtual homeschooling. I mean the parent’s choice on curriculum, time, and experience virtual homeschooling. I mean, like a true digital homeschool experience. I taught all seven of my kids how to read using digital programs, all of our math curriculums have been exclusively online, and even our science and history subjects have slowly migrated to be mostly digital in nature.
Do Digital Homeschools Get Too Much Screen Time?Some families might worry about their kids getting too much screen time, but I don’t worry about that too much. Because of the nature of our homeschool schedule, even with everything being exclusively online, the kids still only get 2-3 hours of screens per child per day, and the rest of the time they are free to explore or play creatively. Let’s take a look at my homeschool schedule, as an example.
- We wake up in the morning, and the kids have a list of chores and other personal items they are all expected to accomplish. They may take as long as they need to on these lists, but if they’re done before noon, then they have time to go play independently until school starts.
- Some of my kids regularly finish by 8 am and have several hours to play, while others barely finish by noon: it’s all a matter of their personalities and how they manage their time. I find that putting the kids in charge of their own schedules in this way has helped to teach them about time management and personal responsibility.
- At noon, we all gather as a family for our devotional and scripture study, and when that’s through, we start our official school day.
Why A True Virtual Homeschool Can Set You FreeI mentioned earlier that even though I’m a busy work-from-home homeschool mom, I don’t feel like a chicken with its head cut off- even though a lot of my homeschooling friends do. Why is that? There are a number of reasons, but all of them can be attributed to my online homeschooling style.
Benefits of an Online Homeschool
- No time spent planning lessons – everything is planned out and done for me
- No time spent teaching lessons – again, it’s all done for me. All I have to do is stay close by in case a child needs help with something.
- No paper cluttering my workspace – when everything is digital, there is nothing to clutter!
- No time spent grading worksheets or tests – also done for me!
- No need for dedicated homeschool space (that’s been cleared recently) – everybody can work on a laptop or a tablet so they can sit wherever is comfortable.
- Traveling? Great! Your schoolwork can come with you. When your entire curriculum fits in your back pocket or tucks into the top pocket of your suitcase, you can school no matter where you are.
What Can An Online Homeschool NOT Replace?There are a few things that an online homeschool cannot replace, one of those being family time. When playing with your kids or teaching them success principles that you feel are important, it still works best to gather together and have a family discussion or activity. If you are a religious family, spiritual foundations are also something that is better taught offline. Nothing replaces reading and studying the scriptures as a family And finally, even online homeschoolers must still consider a good library filled with books for their kids to enjoy anytime they want. Digital books are fun, and there are more and more programs coming out with digital book subscriptions that are perfect for kids, but nothing replaces the feel of a real, physical book in a child’s lap – especially children’s books that teach life lessons.
Our Favorite Digital Homeschooling ResourcesIn an effort to be helpful, I have compiled a (non-comprehensive) list of some digital homeschooling resources our family has benefited from in the past.
- Khan Academy – Free online math curriculum for grades K-12. Follows CommonCore standards
- CTCMath – Paid online math curriculum that doesn’t nickel-and-dime you for having multiple kids. Short, easy-to-follow lessons
- Math Seeds – In conjunction with Reading Eggs, a great program for teaching preschoolers basic math.
- Reading Eggs – Our favorite learn-to-read program bar none. Perfect for ages 4-9. Kids cannot ‘cheat’ and move onto other lessons before they pass previous lessons.
- Homer – Another fun learn-to-read program that the kids have enjoyed. No computer options but is Android and iOS compatible
- Reading Kingdom – A good learn-to-read program that teaches kids to read while teaching them to keyboard
- YouTube – With parental discretion, there are many free learning resources on YouTube. One of our favorites is the Animal Planet’s Most Extreme channel.
- Curiosity Stream – A streaming TV service filled with documentaries that are fun for older kids.