Traditional schooling is kind of one-size-fits-all — but it's definitely not the right fit for all kids. And whether it's for religious reasons, bullying, learning disabilities or health issues, many parents have been seeking online education for their children as an alternative.
Virtual schooling is a great option for parents who feel ill-equipped to educate their kids at home. With today's technology, parents and kids can customize their experience — and even choose to have real instructors, tutors and video online.
Obviously homeschooling is a challenge, but what experience in life isn't?
Online homeschool options
Trying to decide between the different types of online homeschool options can be daunting. Virtual, umbrella or cover schools all tend to fall under the same category. They can provide all subjects, issue report cards, maintain attendance records, issue diplomas and sometimes offer college prep and career prep programs.
Some online curriculum specializes in one particular subject such as math, reading or spelling. These programs allow you the freedom to carefully tailor your child's education to suit their individual needs. You may also choose to teach some subjects online while incorporating textbooks for other subjects.
A few things to consider
Determine your budget. Online programs can range from a couple hundred dollars a year per subject to free. Most of the free programs are run by the public school system and come with many more requirements for both parent and student. Some programs are run through private schools and include access to online instructors and full record-keeping. Decide if you want one subject, multiple subjects or an entire program.
K-12 academic programs
- A Beka Academy: K-12 and college prep program featuring high-quality video instruction and uses Christian character building textbooks from A Beka Book.
- Alpha Omega Academy: An accredited online academy and Christian homeschool curriculum for grades Pre-K-12.
- Bob Jones Distance Learning Online : Video content and online assessments delivered to your computer.
- Calvert: Calvert School's comprehensive homeschool curriculum.
- Connections Academy: This site offers K-12 tuition-free fully accredited online public schooling in many states as well as a private fully accredited college-preparatory K–12 private school available to students everywhere.
- K12: K-12 online education.
- Mosaica Online Education: K-12 academic program that utilizes the best aspects of a blended online and classroom learning experience.
Supplemental and comprehensive online curriculum
- A+ Interactive Math: Multimedia lessons that use all three learning modalities — audio, visuals and text.
- Ambleside Online: Free homeschool curriculum designed to be as close as possible to the curriculum that Charlotte Mason used in her own private and correspondence schools.
- Khan Academy: Offering over 3,000 videos, Khan Academy is a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.
- Reading Eggs: Reading Eggs' program focuses on a core reading curriculum of skills and strategies essential for sustained reading success.
- Time4Learning: Time4Learning provides a preschool to eighth grade online homeschool curriculum via the internet.
You will want to check your state's homeschool laws before you choose an online program that best suits your child's needs. Speak to the online instructors, read reviews and educate yourself about the programs. The more informed you are, the better prepared you will be to offer your child a successful online education.
Originally published February 2013. Updated March 2017.