When most people start contemplating the idea of homeschooling their children, many start their journey by doing as much research as possible on the internet. As they begin to research, one organization is usually pretty prominent when it comes to these searches - The Old Schoolhouse. Established in 2001, The Old Schoolhouse is well known for its magazines that covers a large array of topics in regards to homeschooling but many people do not know that they also offer an online membership with downloadable, printable elements as well as online classes at their website SchoolhouseTeachers.com. I was recently asked to review the yearly membership option for this service and found this to be a resource many homeschool parents would find very useful.
As with any website or written curriculum, the first thing I do before introducing anything to my kids is to familiarize myself with it as much as possible. When it comes to schoolhouseteachers.com, this can go either one of two ways: 1.) you feel like a kid at Christmas with all the options or 2.) you will find yourself completely overwhelmed with the sheer mass of what is available to you on this website. Think of this place as a big super store - everything you could want is there but you're probably going to spend a good time
|Just some of the activities available
|Names your familiar with like Jason Lindsey
And there's a lot more here than just straight coursework for your child. There's a lot of extras includes to keep Mom (or Dad) busy as well. In addition to the more than 100 courses, membership includes things such as digital archives of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, a reading shelf that offers a selection of free E-books on various topics in regards to teaching styles and methods, school planners to help you stay organized, as well as daily menus and daily messages of encouragement. I found myself sitting with a cup of coffee before the kids woke up or after they went to bed just enjoying browsing all the various things the website offers. There are also many “Member's Only” discounts for outside websites, including a free full year's silver membership to Applecore's record keeping program as part of your membership to schoolhouseteachers.com. They also have various active social media pages such as Facebook and Pinterest where parents can keep informed on upcoming classes and the dates they will be available.
|Quick loading with clear picture on Kindle
Another great thing is the way the courses themselves are set up: you can jump in at any point regardless of when you are starting. You do not have to start at the current week, nor do you even need to start at the beginning. This makes it very convenient to pick and choose lessons based on what your kids might already know or to find a particular lesson that reinforces what you might currently be working on with another curriculum. At the home page for most of the courses, there's a graphic that lets you know key topics the lesson covers, what age/grade
Price wise you have two payment options which makes membership a possibility to most parents: you can either pay a monthly fee of $12.95/month or you can receive a 10% discount by paying for a full year at the $139 price. The great thing is that the price (monthly or yearly) is per family, not per child and gives you full access to all classes and resources on the site. At the time of this writing, they are also offering a 30 day free trial when you sign up for their Homeschooling welcome basket (also free).
However, SchoolhouseTeachers.com is having a huge sale right now and through Christmas Day at 11:59pm ET - 40% off the monthly membership ($7.77/month) or 50% off the Yearly Membership ($64.26/year). Even better, homeschool families who join at this rate will keep it forever as long as they maintain a continuous membership so this is a gift that keeps on giving..
So.. What did We Do?Since I knew that I would not have enough time to actually review a full course in its entirety with my children (courses extend anywhere from a couple of weeks to a full year) I wanted to be able to try various snippets of what is available. I decided to pick and choose various topics based on three categories: 1.) Things I know my children would like 2.) Things I did not think my kids would like and 3.) Things that would be quick to do in the time allotted. I felt that by picking things from each of these three categories it would allow me to try a more diverse range of offerings than just picking topics I know my kids like and by picking lots of smaller, quicker projects I could try a lot more things.
|Ash showing the Gloss for Mother
As one of the “things I do not think my kids would like” I picked
|Figuring out "Count on 2"
another course that is taught by video in which Dr Price explains the mathematics principle to work on for the week and you can download weekly printables that coincide with the lesson. The videos are short and to the point. And guess what?? My son ABSOLUTELY LOVED Dr Peter Price. The videos are very clear and crisp and Dr Price does a great job explaining the weeks lesson in ways in which various grade levels can understand. (And the kids liked his Australian accent) Before I knew it, my son had the dry eraser board out and drawing number lines and was doing the lesson like a pro.. The Old Schoolhouse definitely has a winner on their hands with Dr Price.
|Baking soda and vinegar bomb making in the kitchen
|One giant leap for mankind.
My final verdict?
This is a great resource for any parent who's wanting an "All in One" source for various lessons and activities for their homeschooled kids. It's especially great for a parent like myself who is less than organized and is always scouring the internet for a new activity to go along with what we're already working on. The instructors have done all the leg work for you, you just download the lesson and printables and follow their lead. The addition of new lessons weekly means this website is every changing and there will always be something new to use later down the road. The "Dailies" are wonderful for a quick lesson on days you're running behind and have nothing planned but want to feel like you actually did something for that day (we've all been there).. The price tag is also a plus at only $12.95 a month which is doable even on a tight budget, especially when you take into consideration how much similar sites charge per kid for specific subjects like reading or math only. I enjoy the fact that its geared towards multiple age/grade levels as opposed to only one specific academic level so it can grow with my kids and their learning styles. Finally, the vast variety of subjects available here is a literal goldmine with subjects I would have never even thought about (beginning sewing for historical costumes, anyone?). I guess the bottom line is this - If I were using my own paycheck, would I continue to use this website? Without a doubt my answer is "YES". Even now, my son is asking to do the Tinkers Club and I'm working to fit Home Economics as well as the music lessons on how to play the recorder into our second half of the school year. This will be a very welcomed addition to our lesson plans throughout the year.