Online homeschool classes are not new. I took online classes myself as a homeschooled high schooler (sometimes I joke that I took them on stone tablets). But the past few years have seen an explosion of online opportunities for homeschoolers! Now parents are left wondering how to use online resources well, and how to set their students up for success with online homeschool classes.
This post contains affiliate links. I received a product for free, and was compensated for my time. All opinions are honest and my own; I was not required to write a positive review. Please see disclaimer.
- What are the different kinds of online homeschool classes?
- Reasons why you might choose to take a homeschool class online
- How to use online homeschool classes well
- Homeschool Study Skills: Mr. D Math 8 Steps to Powerful Studying
- Topics covered in the Mr. D Math Study Skills class include:
What are the different kinds of online homeschool classes?
All online classes are not the same! There are 3 main types of online homeschool classes.
Live classes, as the name suggests, include in-real-time class meetings. These live class times can occur at any interval. Common intervals include weekly, biweekly, and monthly class sessions.
Some instructors use software you’re probably already familiar with like Zoom, providing a private meeting link to their students. Other teachers will use their own private platforms to host the class.
Examples of live online homeschool classes:
- Book Clubs on Outschool taught by Mary Hanna Wilson
- CenterforLit literature and history classes
- Live Math classes from Mr. D Math
- No Sweat Nature Study from Our Journey Westward
- SQUILT music appreciation lessons
- High School writing and literature courses from Kristen Rudd
Pros of live online classes:
- Interaction with teacher and other students
- Ask questions immediately as they arise
Cons of live online classes:
- You can’t move at your own pace
- Less flexibility in your weekly calendar
Asynchronous classes combine a connection to the calendar with the flexibility of working at your own pace. They do not have a weekly live class time, however they do have weekly assignments.
Students will be given lessons to learn and assignments to complete on a regular basis with specific due dates. However, within the context of that week, the student can work on the assignments whenever they wish.
Examples of asynchronous online homeschool classes:
- High School Chemistry with Dr. Kristin Moon (my son took this class and highly recommends it)
- Writing classes from CenterforLit
Pros of asynchronous online classes:
- Accountability to stay on schedule with online learning
- Usually involves some level of regular interaction with teacher via email, message boards, etc
Cons of asynchronous online classes:
- You can’t move at your own pace
- Less engagement and relationship building compared to a live class
With a self-paced online homeschool class, you have access to all the material at once and can move as quickly (or as slowly) as your student needs. This is one of the most plentiful homeschool course options available online.
Sometimes the course includes submitting work to the teacher, but sometimes it is all done independently and the responsibility for checking work/grading is on the parent. Sometimes you pay for access to a single class with a particular course of study. Other times (especially for classes in the younger years) you pay for access to an entire collection of class options, and you can pick and choose which lessons you want to do.
Examples of self-paced online homeschool classes:
*Note: some of the memberships below offer regular live events as well, but the primary mode of teaching is self-paced, so I’m including them here for clarity’s sake.
- ChalkPastel.com (fine arts for every age)
- Clap for Classics! (music appreciation for young learners)
- Compass Classroom (curriculum on many topics like science, Latin, history, literature, vocabulary, economics, and more)
- CTCMath (from K to Calculus)
- Homeschool Nature Study (based on The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock)
- Kristin Moon Science (self-paced high school science labs and other science courses)
- Literary Adventures for Kids (literature book clubs for all ages)
- Mr. D Math (self-paced classes available in math and other subjects)
- Music in Our Homeschool (music and fine arts from preK to high school)
- No Sweat Nature Study archived lessons from Our Journey Westward
- Rabbit Trails Homeschool (literature-based unit studies)
- SQUILT music appreciation archived lessons
- Your Morning Basket Plus (Morning Time for the whole homeschool family)
Pros of self-paced online classes:
- Go as fast or as slow as the student needs
- Flexible schedule
- Interest-led potential
Cons of self-paced online classes:
- Less incentive to stay on track/make progress
- Often (although not always) no interaction with fellow students/teacher
Reasons why you might choose to take a homeschool class online
There are many reason why a homeschool parent may choose to outsource a particular piece of the homeschool curriculum. Here are a few common reasons:
- Course material difficult to teach/learn on your own
- Preserve relationship between parent and child
- Creative courses for interest-led learning
- Discussion with fellow students around the world
How to use online homeschool classes well
As homeschool parents, there are several things we can do to set up our child for success when it comes to online learning.
Set clear expectations
Make sure your student clearly understands the expectations from both their online instructor and on your end as the homeschool teacher.
- Be Prepared
- Tech Requirements: do you have all the technical resources you need for the class? Does your child know how to use them?
- Syllabus Requirements: does your child have a copy of the syllabus? Do they understand how to follow the schedule and understand due dates for the various assignments?
- Time management: make sure your child plans time to learn new material, study, and complete their assignments in a timely manner without procrastinating
- How to contact instructor: do you and your child both know how to contact the instructor if you have any questions? Have you discussed email etiquette with your child? You may also want to consider implementing the policy that any interaction/correspondence between you and their instructor copies a parent. Most of my children’s online instructors have set up this policy on their own.
- How to submit coursework: does your student know how and where to submit their assignments in the proper format?
2. Meet Deadlines
Make sure your child knows you expect them to meet the deadlines provided. At the same time, make sure they know they can come to you and the teacher if they need help or assistance.
3. Stay Engaged
A student who is fully engaged with the material, their instructor, and any other students will get the most out of their online homeschool class!
4. Don’t Cheat
Does your child understand the temptations of plagiarism and other forms of online cheating? Yes, your angelic child will be tempted, too. Pre-handle this discussion and set boundaries and forms of accountability.
5. Inspect what you expect
Ask me how I know…just because your child is responsible and wonderful does not mean they won’t struggle with this, particularly if it is a self-paced course. You can only expect what you, the homeschool parent, are going to inspect. We are still the primary educators of our children, even when we are outsourcing particular courses to online instructors.
- Check periodically that their assignments are turned in
- Check periodically on their grades
- Check in with teacher as needed
6. Teach them how to advocate for themselves
This is such a tremendous life skill, and I love that we can teach our children how to advocate for themselves while they’re still at home and we’re able to mentor them through this somewhat intimidating process!
Sit beside your child and help them write an email to their teacher. Most of the time, Mom does not need to be the one to email the teacher. Instead, we can come alongside our students and teach them how to communicate and advocate for themselves.
The first few times, you may be involved pretty heavily. As your teens grow older, they may just occasionally ask you to read over their email draft before sending it. But the ability to communicate will set them up for long-term success!
Whether your teen plans to take online homeschool classes now or merely wants to prepare themselves for more formal, structured classes in the future, an online homeschool study skills class can provide a solid foundation for future success.
The self-paced study skills class available from Mr. D. Math teaches your teen all they need to know about study skills and also provides a 0.5 high school credit. (You can learn about homeschool high school transcripts here.)
Each Mr. D Math Study Skills lesson includes the following elements:
- Lesson videos
- Quiz on the lesson
- Pre-learning video
- Write viewer response
- Take notes on text material
- Take notes on lecture
- Build master study guide
- Test on master study guide material
Topics covered in the Mr. D Math Study Skills class include:
- Course Welcome and Setup
- Introduction to Pre-Learning
- How to Take Effective Textbook Notes
- How to Take Effective Notes in a Nonfiction Book or Article
- How to Create a Master Study Guide
- Introduction to Maximizing Class Time
- How to Take Effective Lecture Notes
- How to Process Lecture Notes
- How to Integrate Text and Lecture Notes and Creating a Concept Map
- Creating Study Tools Part 1
- Creating Study Tools Part 2
- Memorization Tips and Tools
- How to Maximize Study Groups
- How to Pre-Test Yourself
- How to Maximize Test Day
- How to Take a Timed Test
- Reviewing Your Test
This online study skills class is a great tool to prepare your middle school or high school student for more formal learning, especially if they plan to take outside online or in-person classes during their high school years.
If you’ve enjoyed a more eclectic, non-traditional style of education through high school, this class would also be perfect to prepare your student for more traditional class styles in college.
It’s often not enough to just read the textbook, watch the lecture, and take a few notes. Equip your children with study skills they can use for years to come. Click here to learn more.