Online Homeschool Programs - A Former Skeptic's ViewWe were invited to particpate in Bridgeway Academy’s class for free, and I was compensated for my time in this review.

All opinions are my own.

When my parents first delved into the realm of homeschooling WAYYY back in the ’80s, there weren’t many options for them as far as choosing curriculum went. There were a handful of Christian schools in the US producing a boxed curriculum to follow, and a few other Christian organizations to choose books from. The pickings were slim, to be sure!

Now, nearly 3 decades later, the choices for homeschool books, curricula and programs are very nearly endless! Not only are there fabulous companies producing amazing, in-depth curricula parents can confidently use to teach their children, there are alternative class options also available to us.

If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of homeschooling online, then you’re in for a bit of a treat. The Boy (our 4th grader) and I had the opportunity to learn about the Rainforest through a fun, educational, online homeschool program offered through Bridgeway Homeschool Academy.

I have been very skeptical of online classes for homeschool. As a homeschool graduate myself, I did a few courses “online” and one or two through recorded satellite programs in high school. My experience with them was not negative, but I wasn’t overly thrilled with it either. Other homeschool families I knew who had used interactive or online courses for elementary grades had experienced a “zoning-out” syndrome amongst their students – in other words, the kids, being on the computer, weren’t actually paying attention to the teachers. These things combined together turned me off the idea of online homeschool programs.

Well, let me tell you, after the experience we’ve had with Bridgeway’s courses, my mind has been completely changed! This former skeptic is now a firm believer that online homeschool programs can be fun AND educational! Here’s why:

Online homeschool programs provide courses we may not have time or ability to teach in our own homes.

We are a part of a great co-op group, for which I am extremely grateful to have an even more rounded approach to our school subjects than I can provide at home. If it were not for our co-op, we certainly would not be as diverse in our subjects, approaching different areas of study more in-depth.

Bridgeway Academy‘s online Student Learning Labs live classes can essentially take the place of a co-op style of teaching electives and required courses, allowing more diversity for your homeschool (without requiring more work from mom!). Bridgeway is currently offering classes such as Architecture with Brick Building, Marine Biology, Essay Writing, Robotics, Study Skills, and so much more!

We chose the Fun with Science: Rainforest class. The Boy LOVES science, and can never get enough! The Rainforest is not something I would have really thought to teach specifically about, and he ate up every moment of the class, enjoying the teaching, videos, and even reports and assignments along the way.

Online homeschool programs provide an opportunity for your students to learn from someone other than mom or dad.

Bridgeway Academy Online Homeschool Portal

We all question whether our kids listen as well (or not) to other teachers as well (or not :D) as they listen to us. What I discovered watching my son during these classes is that he was so excited to have a new face and voice (and a subject he was very interested in), and he actually paid attention!

His teacher was very well-prepared with the class material, organized, interesting, kept the class on track, and most importantly, taught from a Biblical perspective. There was often a question or two raised about a “scientific fact” someone had heard from somewhere, and she was very good about bringing up the truth of God’s word against evolution in any of those instances. I felt totally safe and confident knowing The Boy was learning TRUTH about science AND having fun while doing it!

The setup of the Student Learning Lab is such that each child logs into the program during the class time, and can watch the teacher LIVE, while seeing her slideshows and whiteboard on their screen as she writes different notes down for them.

Students can “raise their hand” within the program to ask a question and be called upon, and believe me, the hand-raising was well used! But, within the boundaries the teacher had set out for them at the beginning of class. She was very good about keeping the class focused and re-grouping if they got side-tracked. I loved seeing the excitement of the kids to raise their hands and answer or ask questions in a quasi class environment.

For the assignments, I set The Boy up in Google Docs to have access for him to write his own reports. This worked out well, and provided him with an opportunity to practice typing, saving to a file and printing to the home computer. Win win!

Homeschooling online stretches your student to meet other people’s deadlines and try new projects.

Bridgeway Academy Rainforest assignment

One of my favourite elements of using Bridgeway’s online classes is that the teachers assign projects. Yes, projects! We found them fairly age-appropriate, fun, yet challenging, without taxing your time or cutting into your daily schedule.

Why do the projects excite me so much? Because, I have the best intentions of assigning such projects to my own children. However, with 3 homeschooled and a toddler, time can sometimes get away from me! And unless it’s already worked into our curriculum, projects (even the fun ones) are too often laid to the side and forgotten about. I want to challenge my kids to do more and expand in their knowledge and ability to tackle different kinds of assignments. Bridgeway’s classes have helped us learn to do that!

Though the classes may have an age range spanning a number of years, the assignments can easily be made more complex or simplified, if necessary. I found, however, that they were perfect for us, as is.

Online homeschool programs give moms a bit of a break, while still being confident their child is learning!

Can I hear an amen?!

Typing practice on reports

We homeschool mommas, we LOVE teaching our kids (99.9 % of the time). But we are eternally grateful when there is an opportunity for a subject to be taught by someone else. Take music lessons, for example. I could easily teach my children piano. But in their (and my :D) best interest, we have a piano teacher do it for them. No one ever said we have to teach EVERY subject! And with a houseful of kids, I am glad for any opportunity we can get for a class to be taught by someone else.

Are you an online homeschool program skeptic? Are you intrigued by the idea and want to give it a spin for yourself?

Just for you, Bridgeway Academy is offering a FREE Learning and Personality Style Assessment ($39.95 value) AND a $20 off Early Bird Enrolment discount when you use code IHN514 before May 30, 2014.

Find out more about Bridgeway Academy online and connect with their social media below.