There is a lot of confusion when it comes to questions about how to be homeschooled online.
Sometimes people refer to the use of online educational programs as homeschooling when really they are in actuality doing school at home. In many cases (not all), there is a brick and mortar campus associated with these programs.
What’s the difference?
Homeschooling with online curriculum– Your child is not enrolled at any private or public institution. You are only using online curriculum and have followed the steps from your state to participate in a homeschooled education.
Example: Homeschooling using the Easy Peasy All in One Online Curriculum
Online schooling at home– Your student is enrolled with a private or public institution. You pay tuition (private) or your student is completely enrolled at the institution (public).
Example: Enrolled in Connections Academy
The purpose below is to clear that up and help parents or caregivers who are considering all different schooling options for their children decide which format of online school is best for his or her child(ren).
This article is kind of like a “choose your own adventure” in that you need to find the highlighted section that best meets the criteria for what you are hoping to accomplish.
Once you’ve narrowed down to the type of online schooling, then you can compare the different prices and guidelines for each online schooling option.
First, to clear up some terminology that can be confusing.
This post goes in detail on what accreditation is and if you need it. To summarize, accreditation is awarded to a school that has met certain criteria for approval. This is more important at the high school level IF your child is interested in a college that may require accredited courses or wants to participate in post-secondary sports.
Online Curriculum vs. Online School-
Curriculum is simply materials you use to deliver instruction. The word curriculum and materials or resources can be used interchangeably.
Offline curriculum materials are workbooks, books, notebooks, printed materials, science and math manipulatives, games and anything you use to help you teach the concepts.
Online curriculum is typically delivered in the format of videos, text, editable pdf’s, powerpoint or presentations, graphics, etc. There are some providers that may also send supplementary materials for their program, such as a workbook or text book, but the delivery format will be online. You may have a homeschooler who uses online curriculum from Khan Academy, for example.
An online school– private or public- requires enrollment and meeting certain pre-established guidelines. This provides a way to complete school work from home, but it’s not the same as doing school completely on your own.
Find the yellow block below that best describes your situation and homeschooling needs.
Important note: This will continue to be an evolving resource to stay current with online curriculum options. This is an area that is constantly growing and evolving to meet the needs of various groups of learners.
I want to homeschool:
Using an online curriculum with no teacher support and no accreditation. I just want online materials to help me teach!
Free online homeschool curriculum options (no teacher support):
You may think, why would I pay for online curriculum materials if there are free options?! Free options may involve a bit more research and planning, but you can certainly find excellent materials across the Internet. The difference in the paid options is generally how the materials are organized and added features that may be available.
Completely free access to tons of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics) content for grades 3 and up. They also have a new app called Khan Kids, an app for ages 2-7. ELA content is in beta testing at the time of research. Khan Academy and Google for Education often partner for some great opportunities for online learning.
Discoveryk12.com (Different from K12.com)
Free curriculum for grades PK-12 that refers to videos and wikis for much of the content. There is a fee for additional options with a parent account. Some families use the curriculum to supplement instruction. I like their view curriculum by grade level options that offer a pdf overview of lessons found at each grade level.
Access to online textbooks, flashcards and videos for students in grades Kindergarten through grade 12. Content areas are science, math and social studies.
Youtube (DIY that you would have to plan out in advance)
Youtube offers an opportunity to curate a curriculum but requires planning and research to put together. You could create a Google Classroom for your homeschooler and an entire curriculum that pulls Youtube educational videos for instruction.
A resource that covers the scope and sequence of skills children need at each grade level. Download free pdf version of units or you can purchase the printed version.
Provides academic materials and interactive tools in all core content areas for grades K-12. Requires an account to use the tools.
Hippo campus (Grades 6-12)
Free educational resources (majority is science and math) including videos used mainly to supplement lessons.
Teachers Pay Teachers
Essentially an online store for teaching resources, TpT also has a great selection of free curriculum materials. Filter Teachers Pay Teachers products by free to search and find the materials you need.
Curriculum based on the Charlotte Mason methodology that (does not include phonics, math, or books) but has recommendations and free online books (when available) for each grade level.
Easy Peasy All in One (All subjects)- K12–
Complete PK-12 homeschool curriculum in all subjects put together with free Internet resources for 180 days of instruction. Developed and made available by a homeschooling mom. It’s a free, complete religious curriculum resource that is used by thousands of homeschool families.
An Old Fashioned Education
Curriculum based on the Charlotte Mason methodology using mostly public domain resources.
Paid online homeschool curriculum options (no teacher support):
Funcation Academy (have co-teaching option as an additional charge)
Funcation Academy has different options for parents and students. The FAPrep option gives parents access to the K-12 curriculum resources and practice materials with the parent providing all support.
Power Homeschool– (Acellus curriculum, parents as instructors)
Parents can choose 1-7 courses for a complete online curriculum with a monthly subscription. This is the Acellus curriculum, but used as a stand alone option without teacher support.
Curriculum in PK- 12 grade in core content areas. Videos are a mix of cartoon-based and interactive content with an option to download and print materials.
IXL (Reading & Math)
Interactive questions to practice skills in reading and math. Not an all in one curriculum but can be used to target gaps in reading and math skills. This program is used in many traditional classrooms to supplement reading and mathematics instruction.
K-8 curriculum and assessments in all subjects that features tailored instruction to find and fix learning gaps. A paid version offers optional features.
Bridgeway (also offers live teacher support options)
Bridgeway online homeschooling has an independent study program for courses or an all inclusive curriculum kit.
Video lessons, study guides and curriculum that can be used to supplement homeschool instruction in grades 3-12.
Adventure Academy is the from the creators of ABCMouse and it contains a lot of animated, interactive content and games for reading, math and science.
Religious curriculum for grades 3-12 that also includes customization and grading.
Switched on Schoolhouse
Christian based online curriculum for students in grades 3-12.
Using an online curriculum that has live or recorded teacher support. It is not connected to a private school or university.
Free online homeschool curriculum options with live teacher support:
None at the time of research.
Paid online homeschool curriculum options with live teacher support:
Outschool offers a variety of courses with a live teacher and small group of students for a one time course or an ongoing course. There are many topics to choose from and, while not a stand alone school or curriculum, it could be utilized for enriching experiences to supplement instruction.
Funcation Academy with co-teaching support-
FVA- ages 11+ offers a coaching support plan in addition to the full curriculum without support.
The descriptions below are NOT the same as homeschooling. They require enrollment and meeting the guidelines set by the schools or institutions. The benefit for some families is having teacher support, a pre-established curriculum and sequence, and grading/reports that may be offered.
Again, these options are private or public schooling with an online format and not homeschooling.
Using a private online school with teacher support that is not connected to my local school district and is accredited.
This is doing private school at home and you will be bound to meet certain guidelines of the university or institution.
These are all programs with either a monthly fee or tuition.
- Bob Jones University
- Liberty University
- Acellus Academy (Curriculum by itself is the same as Power Homeschool)
- International Connections Academy
- Oak meadow
- Laurel Springs
- Keystone Online
- Texas Tech
- International Virtual Learning Academy
- Excelsior – Online live classes with options to view recordings later
- Global Village School
Using a public online school with teacher support that is not connected to my local school district and is accredited.
Your child will enroll as a student in the school and you will be obligated to their policies, including state mandated testing requirements.
- Connections Academy
Using an online program with teacher support that my local district provides.
This is NOT the same as homeschooling.
Your child will enroll as a public school student in the school district and you will be obligated to their policies, including state mandated testing requirements.
Contact your local school district’s Board of Education Curriculum Department to find out about virtual school options that allow your child to remain enrolled as an active student in the school system.
Hope this was a helpful reference as you navigate the different options available for online homeschool curriculums. If there is a resource not listed, or one that has changed since the time of research, please leave a comment.
Again, this information will continue to be updated and evolve as a growing and evolving area of educational options for homeschool families.