The first approach is similar to the origins of homeschooling where parents take on the full-time role as teacher and purchase curriculum on their own from publishers. They develop a lesson plan for each student and conduct classes to teach the material and then test on it to show the student has become proficient in the course of study.  The benefit is that parents can customize the education to each child and have full control of the learning process. Downside is the reporting and documentation area which is required and becomes the parent’s total responsibility should the state or applicable agencies have relevant questions. Some parents choose to work with online programs that are not connected to a formal school which can be a valuable resource in helping students learn their subjects and offer a broad range of elective subjects beyond they standard courses that might be taught by the home parent.

This approach has also been used by parent groups who align with the same vision and agree on the curriculum to be used and then everyone takes on a specific teaching role based on their individual skills and knowledge. It helps to relieve some of the burden on one person to learn all the subjects. There are many families using this approach today but there is an alternate approach that has some increased benefits without giving up the flexibility that parents enjoy with homeschooling.

The best online homeschool programs are those connected with an established accredited school. Children are enrolled in the school on the long-distance learning track where classes and assignments are accomplished via an online portal using the Internet.  Lesson plan guidance is integrated with each class so both students and parents know how much work should be done each day to finish in a timely manner. One of the biggest benefits in working with this approach is that the school tracks grades and progress reports so documentation is in a formalized format that can be converted to transcripts routinely accepted by colleges and universities anywhere in the country. They are considered a full-time student registered with a school even though they are learning at home so state or agency involvement is minimal if present at all.

The school also provides parents teaching options so they can decide whether to be fully involved in this task or partly and then transition over to the school’s certified instructors completely for high school. 
Parents do not have flexibility with curriculum since the schools chooses this but typically as noted earlier the range of subjects is much broader than a home might be able to do. Another factor could be the expense since private or Christian schools often are substantially higher than an accredited online program. The initial decision of which school platform to partner with is made based on accreditation and whether the school’s vision aligns with the family’s values. 

Both methods can be considered by parents looking to homeschool their children to determine which is the best approach based on their unique situation. Look at the pros and cons in each with the understanding that the best online homeschool programs provide additional benefits that the ‘on your own’ approach doesn’t have without anyone having to sacrifice quality of education or flexible adjustment.

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