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  1. #1

    Question Looking for an online program

    Thank you in advance. This fall we're transitioning our 8 year old, who is going to start 3rd grade, to homeschooling. We are in Utah. I am starting to research online programs, but thought it'd be smart if I first asked the people who've already done all the research. He has already done well with the online math and reading programs the school supplemented with, so we know he can do well and is fairly independent with an online program.
    I am looking for a program that adapts to the learning pace of the student. It continuously adapts the work to the students ability, assessing them as they go. It allows the student to move fast through things that they already know, and spends more time on things they are having a hard time with.
    It should not be prepackaged with set work that is the same for all students, boring the student and creating unnecessary busy-work. A student should ideally be able to complete their work in as little time as possible, and have the rest of the day available for either their own creative endeavors, or more exploration of things from the curriculum that interest them.
    In that same vein, it should not require unnecessary remote classroom time. A program where a teacher is available to assist the student with areas they are struggling in is a nice perk, but otherwise remote classroom time should not be a requirement.
    A program that provides as engaging a way as possible to learn the curriculum would, of course, be ideal. By that I mean computer-based learning with gamification, multimedia, and games when possible.
    The program should allow the student to be self-sufficient. It shouldn’t require a parent to plan their learning each day for them. The program should calculate a reasonable amount of work each day for the student to complete to keep up with the curriculum, adapting to their needs each day, and a student should be able to get on each day and complete their work themselves, only requiring parental intervention when they are struggling.
    It should also provide parents with a very granular view of the students progress through the curriculum, letting them know where they are excelling and where they are struggling. The curriculum should be the common state curriculum, and parents should always be able to see how the student is doing in meeting the requirements of that curriculum.
    I know probably no program will hit all of these things, but just thought I'd list what our ideals are and see if there is anything close. Thank you for your help!

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  3. #2

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    Dear Rogan,

    Welcome. If such a program existed, there would be no need for in person public schools, and would be widely used by everyone already. No work or engagement necessary on the oarents part - check! Keeps kids occupied and engaged - check! Has a skilled human teacher ready to swoop in at the first sign of trouble and miraculously rememdy the situation - double, triple check!
    It is awesome that your kid works well independently and with the resources your school has provided. May I suggest, however, that hastily arranged online activities by the teachers are not truly instructional, but that are stuff to make it look like hes keeping busy with the ‘essential’ business of learning? Sort of like an office parody, where “the boss is watching, gotta look busy!”

    I love apps and computer games as a means for solidifying learning. Especially math games! A game always wins over endless worksheets, where practice and repition are needed. Again, if there was something perfect out there, everyone would already be using it. My youngest has language processing issues, and has tried about every single phonics learning program out there - imagine trying to learn to read without needing to speak and without writing! Some were better than others, but what it really took was me sitting there reading with him.
    If youre going to homeschool, YOU, the loving parent, need to be the teacher, and driving the bus, not some subscription paid 3rd party that doesnt know your kid. This doesnt mean slaving away at the kitchen table, monitoring paperwork flow, recreating a “school at home” situation. If your son is blessed with the ability to work and learn independently at this age, thats great! Dont handicap him with some vanilla, generically dull “box” curriculum. Itll kill his love for learning. Let him pick the subjects he wants to learn about, let him pick the curriculum for each one that he will use, and have it be one that allows for more independent learning. Have something that allows you to adapt it as needed for your situation. Have something that allows him to go at his own pace, zipping ahead and completing stuff on his timetable. (At the end of the school year now, we are completely on enrichment activities since finishing up the years worth of coursework. My DS is loving having all his official social studies, math, science, and reading stuff done. Our daily math now consists of a tangram warmup (an app!) and about 10 minutes of a game to solidify his multiplication memorization. Because I need him to look busy!

    I suggest that you research the many facets of homeschooling to find out more of the possibilities of what it can look like, instead of researching online schooling, which would consist of browsing the marketing pages put together by sales personnel. The interwebs are full of horror stories about trying this distance learning thing where parents are trying to cope with an imposed schedule by the schools.... and those are situations where the teachers are trying to make the best of a bad situation. Teachers who already care deeply about the wellbeing of their students! Remove that level of care, and you have online learning a la k12 and the like!
    If you want zero involvement and investment with your sons learning, he will probably be better off with the public schools.Teachers are there and get paid for a reason, yanno.
    I hope I wasnt too discouraging!
    Ask if you have questions about homeschooling!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3

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    There are no online programs that are custom to each student with all of the features that you are looking for. What you describe is a unicorn.

    I agree with alexsmom, that you can use apps and computer games for teaching, but you do have to curate those yourself. For homeschooling, you will need to take into consideration your child, their learning and talk with them about what works. Even at 8 years old, they do have an opinion about what they like and don't like.

    We mix up online resources with IRL sources. Books, videos, audio books, mixed with programs like Khan Academy for math and the like. Now if you want to have more of a paper-based learning that can be customized to your child's needs there are plenty of those around. There are even schools, such as Global Village and maybe Oak Meadow that will work with you to develop a program that works with your child.

  5. #4
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    I'm in the same boat regarding the researching! I've a 9 year old going into 4th grade who is very resistant to the idea of homeschooling. Thus, I can't offer tried and true options, only things I've been discovering during my weeks-long curriculum search.

    My older boy (middle school) has responded very well to Teaching Textbooks, he's been asking for online curriculum similar to theirs for his other subjects...which I've still had no luck finding...

    Another option you could check out is: "Beast Academy" (https://beastacademy.com)-it offers books and online. We've yet to try, so I can't give an opinion.

    Night Zoo Keeper (nightzookeeper.com) caught my eye for my youngest-it teaches writing skills-it seems engaging and might make a good supplemental element, but we've yet to try, so, again, I can't give an opinion.
    I've been reading a lot about IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing). Reviews say it's highly rigorous, offers online instruction.

    If your child likes graphics-there is a science curriculum called "Mr. Q's Science" (eequalsmcq - The Lab of Mister Q - Homeschool Science and other Education Resources) that offers a comic stylized format textbook with workshops available.

    I've fallen in love with "Visualizing and Verbalizing" (Gander Publishing - Visualizing and Verbalizing® Kit). You don't have to buy the whole kit (price is a little steep). A curriculum teaches reading comprehension through visualization. The workbooks offer short, concise lessons using informative text.

    I hope this helps!

  6. #5

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    I am definitely with AM and Mariam on this. I think you will find from all the people who have done the research and tried and tested the available products, that full time online is not a way for child to be learning.

    In response to:
    "I am looking for a program that adapts to the learning pace of the student. It continuously adapts the work to the students ability, assessing them as they go. It allows the student to move fast through things that they already know, and spends more time on things they are having a hard time with."

    I would say the only "program" that does that is called a homeschooling/home educating parent (or a teacher if your child is in public school). You cannot replicate that with a computer.

    My daughter did a full time online school for one month, and we would never go back to it. We would go back to public school before we went back to online school. It is actually much more engaging and successful for her and much less prep and involvement from me to do mostly paper/book-based with a few online supplements.

    There are many great paper/book-based programs out there that can allow your child to be independent if that is what you need.

    We used Beast Academy (mentioned above) and it is great, but we used the books and the online only as a supplement. My daughter self-taught from the books (it has a guide that is a comic book and a workbook) and I was just involved for marking and discussing anything she was struggling with.
    New Zealand-based freelance science copyeditor. Homeschooling DD 11 (year 7) and DD 6 (year 2).

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