The final method in this series of homeschooling styles goes by several names: “school-at-home”, “textbook-based”, and its relatives, “umbrella schools” and online or “virtual schools”.
The traditional school-at-home method is exactly what it sounds like – and most non-homeschoolers’ idea of what home education must be. The typical idea of a classroom, with workbooks and state-approved texts can be found here, along with a set schedule of learning objectives (called Scope & Sequence). Homeschool companies that follow this model include A Beka and Bob Jones.
An umbrella organization is a school that covers the administrative duties of schooling – tracking progress, assigning grades, mentoring, and sometimes awarding diplomas. They provide the curriculum and materials, sometimes at significant cost, but the homeschooling parent doesn’t have to worry about writing their own program, reviewing materials, and preparing lessons. Calvert School is the finest example I know of an umbrella school, and operates at its physical location as well. (I used their program the first two years, and appreciated the ‘safety net’ it provided for my nervous baby steps into the home education world.)
Many of these types of companies will also allow you to take only one or two courses, which is an excellent option if you lack proficiency in a specific subject area. (Hate to relive high school biology? Here’s your answer.)
Online schooling can be a form of the above, or may be attached to a public school district in the form of a “virtual school”. In this instance, your child is usually counted as one of their students, assigned teachers, and is under the same rules and obligations of their classroom counterparts. While the school system will continue to receive state/federal funds for your child’s attendance, please be aware that there may be additional costs involved here as well.
While any of the above methods will cover the bases for your child’s education, the school-at-home approach is often suited more to the parent’s needs than the child’s. This type of education practice can be godsend for a family undergoing a significant life change and in need of a temporary “co-teacher”, but successive years of it can be repetitive and dull for some children. You may want to consider if you:
- want your child to be working at the same pace and in the same academic areas as public school students their age
- wish to duplicate the “classroom” environment
- prefer a more rigid routine
- have a firm vision for what you want your child to learn, and desire the security of a formulated program and schedule
- have a child that does well with written tests and and responses
- want to leave the planning and accountability to an outside agency
- need a segue between leaving public school and beginning your “dream” method of home education
- really value a diploma from an accredited institution