OK, before you go all crazy and starting searching for homeschool programs near me and getting all overwhelmed, let’s break down exactly what you need to know when searching for homeschool programs.
First, you need to understand what kind of homeschool programs you’re looking for . . .
What Are Homeschool Programs?
When people say homeschool programs, they may actually be talking about a wide variety of homeschooling offerings.
Homeschool programs may refer to:
- Homeschool methods
- Homeschool curriculum
- Online courses
- Public school alternatives
- Homeschool meetup groups
We’ll discuss each of them in more detail in a bit to help you understand exactly what you need.
But, before we get to them, let’s talk about something that you may hear:
What Are Accredited Homeschool Programs?
Accredited simply means that something is officially recognized. An accredited program is one that has been reviewed and approved by an accrediting body. While your personal home school cannot be accredited, there are accredited homeschool programs that offer courses and classes. Most parents are concerned with accreditation because they are more comfortable with a high school diploma issued by an accredited program. However, it is not necessary for your child to be affiliated with an outside accredited program to receive a diploma. As your child’s educating authority, you have the authority to issue the diploma. As always, check your state laws to guide you during homeschooling.
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Types of Homeschool Programs
OK, now that we covered accredited homeschool programs, let’s take a closer look at those types of homeschool programs to help you better understand before signing up.
Sometimes when people say “homeschool programs” what they are really referring to are homeschool methods.
Homeschool methods are also called homeschool styles or learning styles. It simply means the approach you take to homeschooling.
Will you follow a specific method or style, like Charlotte Mason, or will you create your own way with eclectic homeschooling?
Examples of homeschool methods include:
- Charlotte Mason
- Eclectic Homeschooling
- Unit Studies
There are more homeschooling methods, but the ones listed here are some of the most popular.
The homeschooling method that you choose will depend on your:
- Schedule/Time constraints
- Special needs
- Educational philosophy
- Family needs
Another thing that people mean when they say “homeschool programs” is homeschool curriculum.
A homeschool curriculum is a set of learning materials for a particular topic or groups of topics. A homeschool curriculum can be made up of “boxed” materials, where you get everything in one box to learn about that topic.
For example, you may receive a textbook, a student workbook, and a teacher’s manual in a boxed curriculum.
There are also computer-based homeschool curriculum (homeschooling online) where the student works through a homeschool program or subject using the internet. We’ll cover those in the next section.
Most often when people are searching for “homeschool programs” they are looking for online courses.
There are homeschool several different types of online courses for homeschooling:
- Public school online courses that are completed at home (“school at home”)
- Homeschooling courses that are complete programs covering several subjects under one program
- Stand alone homeschool courses where the child participates in one course on a topic
The type of online homeschool program you choose will depend on your needs.
Do need a complete program that covers multiple topics/subjects, or do you just need to cover one course (like Math)?
Or, are you looking for public school that your child completes at home?
Let’s take a closer look at the public school option . . .
Public School Alternatives
In some cases, parents may say “homeschool programs” and may really be looking for an alternative to public school (or a way to do regular school from home).
While this may meet your needs, know that this is not true home schooling.
Virtual public school, also called tuition-free school (and many other names), is just public school from home instead of the child going to a brick-and-mortar school building.
If you are looking at this kind of program, you will follow the same rules, regulations, and laws as the local public school (including standardized testing).
If you are looking for autonomy from the public school system, then you probably want to stay away from this option.
Another thing that people mean when they reference homeschool programs is a homeschool co-op.
Co-ops, or cooperatives, are generally organized by a group of homeschooling parents for a variety of reasons that act as a homeschool support group to achieve common goals.
There are different types of homeschool co-ops like
- Field trip co-ops
- Buyers co-op for group discounts on curricula and supplies
- Class co-ops where kids meet up regularly in a class environment to complete work
- Social/meet up co-ops
- Nature co-cops
Just be sure to understand what kind of co-op you are joining and the requirements.
Homeschool Meetup Groups
Sometimes when parents search for homeschool programs, what they are really looking for is a meet up group.
In most communities today, you will have plenty of opportunities for homeschool programs through meet up groups.
To find a local homeschool program or meet up, start with the library and search Facebook groups for your area.
• CONCLUSION •
As you can see, the phrase “homeschool programs” can mean many different things based on who you are talking to or what you are looking for.
It most often means a homeschool method, specific curriculum, or online course offerings.
It can also mean a program that is an alternative to attending traditional public school. And, in some cases when people say “homeschool programs” they may mean co-ops or meet-ups.
Before you sign up for a homeschool program, be sure that you are getting exactly what you need!