Have you made much use of online classes in your homeschool yet? Since we use literature-based curricula, online classes are something we have not had much experience with. As I mentioned in my Merry Christmas post, I am so excited that I have been chosen to be a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew this year. The first product I was given to review is the Yearly Membership from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. I have been completely astounded at the depth and breadth of the online classes offered by this website!
About the Online Classes from SchoolhouseTeachers.com
The Yearly Membership from SchoolhouseTeachers.com is an online product with downloadable, printable elements as well as online classes, some of which include audio and video components. One of the biggest challenges for us as homeschoolers in Malaysia is the cost of shipping physical products here. Online classes solve that problem, but I honestly had no idea that there was such a wealth of online classes available, and the fact that they are all in one place like this for a subscription price (rather than having to pay for each piece of curriculum) is amazing! After my first five minutes of looking at this product, I was ready to call all my homeschooling friends living abroad and tell them what a treasure trove I had been given!
SchoolhouseTeachers.com is accessible from any device with a browser – i.e. desktops, laptops, phones, and tablets. We primarily used it on our two MacBooks but my husband took a look at it from his Windows laptop and it worked perfectly for him as well. We use the Google Chrome browser.
The site has a ton to offer with almost 200 classes for learners of all ages, from preschoolers all the way up to their parents and grandparents! Courses are organized by both grade level and subject using the following categories.
Grade levels are divided into:
- Preschool and Kindergarten
- Middle School
- High School
- Just for Parent or the Whole Family
Subjects included are:
- Computer and Technology
- Drama and Speech
- Foreign Languages
- History, Geography, and Social Studies
- Language Arts
- Nutrition, Health, and Fitness
When the content of a particular course overlaps grade levels, it appears in both lists. Many of the high school courses also include suggested transcript weighting information. There are also tips and resources for creating a high school transcript.
In addition to all these courses, there are a bundle of additional resources and benefits for members including achievement certificates, checklists, encouragement, planners and recordkeeping resources, menus, and all the back issues of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. Our personal favorite part of the Yearly Membership we received was one of these additional benefits: full access to a separate company called RightNow Media, which has over 10,000 streaming videos on demand, most of which work anywhere in the world! This was huge for us since we cannot access other subscription streaming video providers here in Malaysia. There are a number of courses in SchoolhouseTeachers.com that make use of the videos in the RightNow Media Library. We tested MANY of them in the five weeks we’ve had this product, as you’ll see below.
How We Used These Online Classes
I’ll be honest with you – when you log in for the first time to SchoolhouseTeachers.com, it is overwhelming! There are so many courses that look fabulous and then there are the myriads of streaming videos you want to watch and resources to download to make your day run more smoothly and….the list goes on and on. I have spent hours on the site just looking around and every time, I find something new and really cool! I’ve wondered how I ever homeschooled before having this resource! 🙂
After spending my initial couple of hours poking around, I decided to let my two oldest girls, ages 8 and 11, do some poking around of their own and each make a list of the courses that interested them the most. Since we were on a pseudo-Christmas break (we never really stop learning!) for much of the time we’ve had this product, I did not assign them any of the courses for the first few weeks but let them do as many as they wanted and had time for. They ended up trying more than seven courses each!
This process of choosing courses will look very different for you if you are looking to fill holes in your curriculum or even to create a complete grade-level package. Both of these seem totally do-able with this product – it just wasn’t what we needed at this time. I love that this product is so flexible and can be used as a complete curriculum, a “hole-filler,” or some fun extras during a holiday or less-busy time.
Some of the courses are downloadable pdfs of lesson plans for you to do with your children. Others are downloadable pdfs for the student to read and do on their own. Others involve audio along with a slide show followed by a worksheet, while still others are video courses. I’ll list out some of our favorites so far and how they were formatted as well as giving you links to the course pages so you can see how they are laid out on the site:
- Our hands-down favorite that is being loved and given five stars by all four children who are participating (ages 2, 5, 8, and 11) is Creation, Nature, and You. This course uses videos from RightNow Media called The Wonderful World of Science. These are hosted by the puppet Dr. Schniffenhousen from our most-beloved DVD series What’s In the Bible. For each of the lessons, we watch a ten-minute video and the older two kids fill out the accompanying worksheet that I download from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. You can see in this photo that everyone is riveted and having a great time watching! The videos are absolutely hilarious as well as being packed full of information about the world God made.
(There is a similar class for the What’s in the Bible series in which the children watch the videos and fill out a worksheet. We haven’t done this one yet since we’ve watched all the videos many times before. I have honestly never been much of a worksheet person so I questioned whether my kids would balk at being given a worksheet along with a fun video. Both girls, however, tell me that they think the worksheet really helps them to retain all the information from the video and they like it. So we’ll probably be doing the What’s In the Bible course soon!)
- Our girls have been pining to learn violin since their grandmother brought them appropriately-sized violins so they were ecstatic to see Beginning Violin lessons available! There are 32 video lessons taught by Nancy Blue, and my 11-year old is loving them! She can already play Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and a pretty decent A scale in just a few short weeks. Since witnessing her older sister’s success, the 8-year old is now keen to try as well. (Please forgive the ridiculously messy desk in this photo! Just keepin’ it real.)
- The 8-year old chose to start the 30-week long Photography class taught by Michele Peterson which inspired the 11-year old to join. They are text-based lessons suitable for all grades and even include high school credit options, so I was slightly skeptical regarding how they would do. But they have both absolutely loved it and are taking pictures all over the place. Judging from the vocabulary they are using as they “frame” their shots and worry about their “composition,” they are definitely learning! We got some great shots at the beach the other day.
Other courses that we tried and enjoyed were Geology, Camping with Jesus, Spanish Copywork, Reader’s Theater, Drama and Speech, French, Spanish, Tinkerclub, Web Game Design, How to Write and Produce a Play, and Daily Puzzlers. While some were better fits than others, I can truthfully tell you that I have been very impressed with the quality of every single course I have looked at.
Who Would Benefit From These Online Classes
I’ve tried to imagine a homeschooling style that would NOT receive some benefit from this Yearly Membership with SchoolhouseTeachers.com, and I actually cannot think of any. I can envision families with a traditional schooling style, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, unit studies, literature-based, and even unschoolers all incorporating these online classes in ways that would truly enrich their homeschool! There are so many options and so many different ways to use them that your imagination is really the only limit to how you could use this product.
SchoolhouseTeachers.com is probably best suited to Christian homeschooling families as it does have a lot of Christian content, and all the science courses that we looked at come from a Creationist standpoint with the exception of Tinkerclub which doesn’t deal with origins. There are many courses that do not include any mention of religion or faith including foreign languages, computer and technology, electives, math, and some language arts, so I would still feel confident recommending this product to a friend with a different or no religion.
How to Join SchoolhouseTeachers.com
I think that SchoolhouseTeachers.com is very reasonably priced! After looking around and seeing how much there was to the site, I was almost afraid to see how much it costs because I don’t like to recommend really expensive stuff to my friends and I knew I would want to recommend this widely! I was relieved to see that a monthly membership is only $12.95 and that the one-year membership is $139. This one fee serves the entire family as anyone living in your home is able to use the site at any time. There are no per-class or per-child fees and special pricing is available for small groups and co-ops.
Signing up for a membership also automatically enrolls you in SchoolhouseTeachers.com’s affiliate program so you will receive a 25% commission on anyone you then refer using your affiliate code. In the interest of full disclosure, I have used my affiliate code throughout this post.
I’m really excited that I can also offer you a 50% off discount on a one year subscription if you use the coupon code CREWFOLLOWER which is valid through 1/31/2016. Click on the picture below to sign up and don’t forget to use your coupon code so you can get the Yearly Membership for less than $70!