The era of education that we live in is festooned with many an option for accredited online homeschool programs. Trying to find the right fit for your student may seem like an endless effort. For many families, navigating homeschooling options is a brand new experience that leaves them with many unanswered questions. We understand how paramount it is for your family to find a program that is tailored to your student to promote academic excellence. We’ve designed a quick rubric to assist your family in making a decision for your student that you can be proud of. Here are seven questions to ask yourself before enrolling your student in an online homeschool program:
Is the Program Accredited
This question is, by far, the most important question to ask yourself, and it should be the first one to find an answer for. Accreditation is the bread-and-butter of any online homeschool program, as it validates a school as a legitimate alternative to traditional education that is accepted by mainstream colleges and universities nationwide. This guarantees that your student will receive a bona fide transcript and diploma, placing your student on the right path to attending a university without transcript issues. If your student does attend a school or online homeschool program that is unaccredited, it is very plausible that your student will not receive credit for the work he or she has completed when applying to another school or university. Be sure to check with each online homeschool program prior to enrolling to find who their accreditation is through. Many programs will list their memberships as well, such as having NCAA approved courses, which may be beneficial to your student.
Does it fit my Family's Budget?
Chances are you’ve already thought through how much you’re able to spend for your student’s education, and that’s a good thing. It is important that you determine what price range fits your budget, while keeping in mind what the tuition for a quality education may cost. Many accredited online homeschool programs offer different avenues of paying for tuition such as payment plans, and may offer discounts for veterans or families enrolling multiple students. Also, be sure to write down a list of all expenses outside of tuition: books, school supplies, enrollment fees, etc. Contacting the school directly can be a sure-fire way of learning of all expenses and uncovering any “hidden” fees.
In terms of payment, check to see if the accredited online homeschool programs you are comparing offer custom payment dates so they can be scheduled to align with your paycheck.
How Does it Compare to Other Accredited Online Homeschool Programs?
Once you have filtered through your program options by accreditation, put your remaining results head-to-head to see how they compare. It doesn’t hurt to put together a checklist to see where each school ranks. School A may offer a better price-point, but School B could present expanded AP courses; put differences like these side-by-side to determine what qualities are the most important to your family. Additionally, find similarities between each accredited online homeschool program that have caught your eye, and narrow down your results based on the programs that don’t match with the option that appealed to you.
When do i Plan to Enroll my Student?
Timing is an important factor in the enrollment equation when comparing accredited online homeschool programs. Thankfully, many online programs offer unmatched convenience in terms of enrollment windows compared to their brick-and-mortar counterparts, but that may not always be the case. If your student has worked with the traditional academic school year schedule (fall through spring), this process should be straightforward in nature. However, for families with students that have started or ended the year late, come from a different yearly schedule, or have pulled their student out of school midyear, finding an enrollment window that fits your family’s timeframe can be difficult. If this is the case for your family, find out if the program that you are interested in runs off of a specific yearly begin-and-end date, or if they offer open enrollment. Open enrollment gives your family the option to begin the year at whichever timeframe works best for your family, and generally includes a work-at-your-own-pace within an academic school year. Many transitioning families try to enroll at semester or quarter marks to stay aligned with the traditional academic cycle, but having open enrollment available to you may expand your options.
Does the Program's Curriculum Mirror my Family's Values and Beliefs?
In days gone by, homeschooling was typically reserved for families that chose to take a hands-on approach to their child’s education and infuse it with their beliefs and ideology. That is no longer the case with many public schools offering a secular curriculum to homeschoolers. Many private, accredited online homeschool programs offer curriculum that is taught from a biblical worldview, with an emphasis on spiritual development. It can be crucial that you find a program that promotes the same values that your family holds close to heart, and that encourages your student in the same facets of life that you do at home.
Many families choose to homeschool because they do not agree with the teaching methods promoted in the Common Core, and thus look to accredited online homeschool programs as a remedy. If this is indeed an area of caution for you and your family, be sure to check with the provider of the curriculum as to whether or not it is inclusive to Common Core standards. It is important to check with your state on what requirements are necessary when homeschooling, however, as they may require that your student learns from Common Core-derived material.
Is the Curriculum Flexible with my Family's Schedule?
Each family has their own unique schedule. Military families, student athletes, artists, and missionary families all come from a walk of life where a strict daily school schedule may not be an option. Before enrolling your student in an accredited online homeschool program, confirm whether the program is based off of live-stream teaching or if it is an independent study; if your family is regularly “on the move”, it is crucial to know if your student is expected to attend a virtual class at a specific time. Find a program that works well with your schedule and that can be flexible with any daily constraints that you may have.
What Options of Academic Support are Available?
Transitioning from a brick-and-mortar school to an online format can be a challenge for some families, especially when their student is no longer face-to-face with their instructor. And more likely than not, there will be times where your student is challenged and will require assistance to move forward with his or her school work. Several accredited online homeschool programs offer tutoring assistance, and occasionally even full-time teachers, for students struggling with the curriculum. If, as a parent, you feel unequipped to help your student through their coursework, then this option is a must for your future homeschool program.
This rubric may just scratch the surface with certain schools, but it should give you some groundwork to begin searching with confidence. And while finding a fit for your student may be strenuous to start, Enlightium Academy is dedicated to helping your family in tailoring a program that will promote your student’s success.
We are a fully accredited online private Christian school that allows students to work at their own pace with a flexible schedule. Our affordable tuition, individualized curriculum, and simple admissions process maintains the advantages of a home school education while also preparing students well for college. Additionally, Enlightium offers record-keeping and has worked with families in all 50 states to meet state requirements. Feel free to call us at 866-488-4818 if you have any questions about transferring to Enlightium Academy. With the second semester approaching quickly, we would love to share with your family on what it would look like to enroll your student in Enlightium Academy.