The Best Homeschooling Resources Online
Whether you've made the decision to homeschool or you're still considering the option, here are resources to offer help and guidance.
According to Brian Ray, Ph.D., president of the National Home Education Research Institute, homeschooling is currently ″the fastest-growing form of education." Its popularity has resulted in more resources than ever before, but the vast number can be overwhelming to those who are new to home education. To help parents get started and utilize the best homeschooling resources on the web, check out our list of recommended online tools.
Understanding Educational Philosophies
Many new homeschoolers are surprised to discover a wide variety of educational methods and philosophies. It's exciting to have the freedom to blend these styles, so find what works best for your own children.
Charlotte Mason (simplycharlottemason.com)
Mason was a 19th century British educational reformer whose philosophy emphasized high-quality literature, nature study, and narration—or students' repeating learned information in their own words.
Rudolf Steiner developed this philosophy in 1919. It places a strong emphasis on child development and educating the student as a whole person: head, heart, and hands.
Childhood learning is divided into three different stages: grammar (the foundation years), logic (the middle school years), and rhetoric (the high school years). This three-part model is called the trivium.
Leadership Education (tjed.org)
This leadership model, also known as Thomas Jefferson Education or TJEd, focuses on teaching students how to think as opposed to what to think. It emphasizes reading classics and discussing them with a mentor (a parent or other adult).
Interest-Led Learning (johnholtgws.com)
This homeschooling method is sometimes referred to as unschooling, a term coined by educational pioneer John Holt. Homeschoolers who follow this style allow their children's interests to form the basis for their studies; they believe that children are curious by nature and have an innate desire to learn.
Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, developed this philosophy in the early 1900s. It focuses on hands-on experience, movement, choice, and order in the learning environment.
Homeschooling Websites for Legal Questions
If you're nervous about how to comply with the laws, consult these homeschooling resources for reassurance. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and in many (though not all) foreign countries. Use the following list to find the information you need to homeschool confidently.
Home School Legal Defense Association (hslda.org)
A group of lawyers began this nonprofit organization in 1983. They provide representation for homeschoolers having legal challenges as well as information on current laws in the U.S. and abroad. If you want to research the legal status of homeschooling in another country, visit the international section (hslda.org/hs/international) for an overview on the current policies around the globe.
The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (responsiblehomeschooling.org/)
Search for information by state with an easy-to-use map (find it here) and read about relevant homeschooling policies.
Best Online Curriculums for Homeschooling
Once you've made the decision to homeschool, one of your major decisions is which curriculum to use. Use this list as a springboard to find the homeschooling resources that best fit your child. The last two websites on the list have Christian-themed content geared toward families interested in religious education.
Oak Meadow (oakmeadow.com)
Oak Meadow's approach focuses on delivering academics for preschool through high school using imaginative, child-centered methods with a strong emphasis on the creative arts: drawing, painting, music, and handwork.
Moving Beyond the Page (movingbeyondthepage.com)
This homeschooling curriculum offers packages with a focus on critical thinking and comprehension for ages 5 through 12. It takes into account the student's strengths and learning style, and delivers project-based instruction that meets or exceeds state and national standards.
For those who want to know that their kids are meeting state standards while still enjoying an individualized approach, this site offers a complete, integrated curriculum as well as online support and assessment tools.
Cathy Duffy Reviews (cathyduffyreviews.com)
Before spending money on a homeschooling curriculum, it's helpful to hear from those who have used it. Sites like this one have extensive, unbiased information on hundreds of curriculum options.
These Christian publishers have created literature-based academic programs, building grade-level packages around a variety of historical themes, such as World or American History. They offer Instructor Guides for parent-teachers to accompany the book readings.
Classical Conversations (classicalconversations.com)
The homeschooling curriculum on this site, started by a Christian community, is based on the Classical method of education, with the added benefit of group learning. Families using the materials meet together each week for study, enrichment, and socialization
Websites for Online Learning
The Internet has transformed educational possibilities. Homeschoolers now have access to many online tools to aid their learning experience. Below are a few of the most popular websites.
Khan Academy (khanacademy.org)
Free online learning is available in a variety of subjects, including math, biology, chemistry, physics, finance, and history. There are short video clips on each subject as well as interactive exercises that allow students to practice their new skills.
On this homeschooling website, started as a free interactive way to teach young children to read using phonics, kids can play games, watch short videos on letters and sounds, and flip through ″books" of stories.
This free app can help kids learn a variety of languages, including Chinese, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, and more.
Project Gutenberg (gutenberg.org)
You'll find 60,000 free eBooks on Project Gutenberg, including many classics. It's perfect for saving money on reading material when homeschooling!
Free, web-based homeschooling curriculum ideas can be emailed directly to you six days a week.
If your kids enjoy computer games, this is a good homeschooling resource. For a fee ($19.95/month for the first child in preschool-8th grade: $30/month for the first child in grades 9-12), children can access learning games to improve reading, math, science, and social studies skills.
Reading Eggs (readingeggs.com)
Looking for a way to teach your young children to read? On this homeschooling website, kids progress through a series of fun lessons on their road to reading and accumulate online rewards along the way.
Academic Earth (academicearth.org)
This site provides advanced-level lectures in dozens of subjects at no cost.
One of the best ways to learn about homeschooling is to peek into the living rooms of parents already doing so. These blogs provide comprehensive snapshots of the homeschooling lifestyle.
Simple Homeschool (simplehomeschool.net)
Contributing writers (including the author of this article) teach a variety of age groups at home, from preschoolers to high school seniors preparing for graduation. The blog provides direction and encouragement for those beginning to consider homeschooling and offers practical advice and curriculum reviews.
Special Needs Homeschooling (specialneedshomeschooling.com)
Parents who have a child with disabilities sometimes turn to homeschooling to meet the child's unique needs. Heather Laurie, a mother of five children with special needs, writes about her experiences and suggests other special needs resources where parents might find support.
The Happy Housewife (thehappyhousewife.com)
Toni Anderson, a mother of seven children, is the author of this popular blog. She writes on diverse topics, including recipes, budgeting, curricula, and school projects.
Confessions of a Homeschooler (confessionsofahomeschooler.com)
Erica chronicles her educational (and religious) journey in teaching four young children. This blog offers many free printables as well as crafts throughout the year.
The Homeschool Classroom (hsclassroom.net)
This collaborative homeschooling blog features multiple contributors and publishes posts that highlight parenting ideas, child development, organization, planning, and other areas of interest.
Homeschooling Twitter Feeds and Facebook Communities
The explosion of social media has rapidly increased the ability for homeschoolers to find support through online communities. Listed below are some helpful homeschoolers and hashtags to follow on Twitter and find on Facebook.
Hip Homeschool Moms
The Simple Homeschool mom blogger posts about the simple ways to homeschool at facebook.com/simplehomeschool.
The Old Schoolhouse
Jamie Martin homeschools her three children in the New England countryside and blogs at SteadyMom.com and SimpleHomeschool.net. She is the author of Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood.