Print vs online curriculum: Finding the right format for homeschool students

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If your student is in K-2 then a print curriculum may be the only option as studies have shown that these ages learn better with a hard book in front of them.

This is also during the time frame when writing skills are learned and practised which cannot be done on a computer.

Another thing to remember is that middle and high school students are transitioned to the online Christian high school program to help prepare these skills and get them ready for college, traditional and long-distance education.

The grades in between can be either way depending on how the student learns best and when they are ready to make the transition.

Print curriculum has advantages in that it provides a physical item for students to write in, read from and carry around in a backpack if they want the traditional school experience.

One of the top benefits is that they are not dependent on electronics or Wi-Fi so even if the power goes out or the family travels to a location where there is no Internet, school work does not have to stop.

It is important to carefully review the school’s print curriculum provider to see the level, information covered and ensure that they are getting everything they need each year to support their transition to the upper grades.

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A downside to using print is that every subject has at least one or two books so taking this outside the home can be cumbersome and heavy especially for smaller kids.

In this age of technology where most kids have a cell phone or game system early on, textbooks may also fail to capture their attention as fully because they are more in tune with electronic devices.

The online learning approach has several benefits both short-term and long-term that students can take advantage of.

Parents should request a demo of the online portal that matches the grade their child is going into so that both can become familiar with how it looks, feels and operates.

Students should be the navigator since they will be the primary user and need to be comfortable with how to access the assignments, read the lesson planner and check progress.

Key things to consider is whether the student is able to adequately study the material and successfully complete the exams with passing grades and their comfort level with the device.

It is also necessary to confirm the technical requirements for software and connection that the portal needs to operate at its maximum capacity. These can typically be found on the school’s website but for any questions or trouble-shooting, check with the Admissions staff. 

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One of the benefits is that most lessons are graded immediately so kids don’t have to wait for someone to use an answer key and manually look over each answer.

The only exception is essays and questions that allow the student to use free form text where the teacher will review because the system cannot.

Students can quickly progress and move to the next assignment with an understanding of how they are doing and comprehending the information.

Since connection is dependent on Wi-Fi, parents can choose to invest in a mobile hotspot that goes with them everywhere or simply plan around vacations and outings where they know this will not be available.

The system is designed to recommend a path to timely completion but students can work slower or faster depending on their unique pace.

Deciding which grade to make the switch is a big decision that each family must discuss and carefully consider.

Some kids are ready in 3rd grade to move from print to online with a small learning curve to adjust to the difference in format while others are more comfortable waiting until they are older and in 5th grade.

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In the upper grades, online Christian high schools are a great option because it requires them to use the computer or tablet for all courses, preparing them for college and the workforce where the digital format is the primary approach.

The sooner a student can adapt to this form the more comfortable they can become before they transition to high school where the work and level of study is increased.

There is no wrong answer between the print and online options but simply a chance to give students access to the materials and learning approach that works best for them.

The middle elementary years are formative with changes in what the student is learning so allowing the parents to decide when to move from print to an online portal is another way that homeschooling puts them in control instead of the regular system.

Check to see what your program allows and work with your kids to see which one they prefer and discuss the right time to move to online curriculum so they will be well prepared for the middle school grades.

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