You already know homeschooling isn’t about keeping pace with school; it's about redefining it. Since the pandemic, millions of parents have realized home-based learning offers the opportunity for customizable learning like never before.
Why should your child complete dry, boring workbooks at the same level as thirty other kids who happen to be in their class, when instead they could go at their own pace through hands-on, personalized learning?
At least, that’s the dream! The reality of pulling off your child’s education as an army of one can be much more overwhelming.
How is any homeschooling parent supposed to navigate through the endless maze of homeschooling resources available?
And do you only have to choose once, or should you have different curriculums for each core subject? And what happens if you don’t feel comfortable teaching every subject yourself?
And outside of academics, how do you provide the electives and socialization your child needs to develop as a full human?
The questions go on. And if you have multiple kids, forget it.
Like any modern age problem, an army of tech companies and online programs claim to be the silver bullet to solve all these problems. But before you sign up for the first homeschooling stress-reliever you Google, it’s important to understand the full picture of the online homeschooling landscape to figure out what best fits your needs.
“Online learning” has a bad reputation, mostly caused by the disastrous rollout of virtual school during 2020. At Prisma, we’ve developed a new kind of online school instead of putting traditional school online. Kids learn academics through a flexible school day blending independent work on project-based, personalized curriculum with daily live workshops with a consistent cohort of peers. Each learner is matched with a certified teacher called a “learning coach” whose job is to mentor, support, and provide feedback challenging them to grow.
We’re fans of online learning, but it depends how it’s done. Here’s some pros and cons to consider if you’ve stuck to traditional homeschooling until now.
Over the past few years, lines have gotten blurry between homeschooling and online schooling, especially as many homeschooling families do a mix. As you’re exploring online homeschool options, you’ll mostly see:
When deciding which online program to go with, weigh it against these considerations:
Below are some of the most popular options for online homeschool curriculum without live teachers. Since Prisma is secular, this guide focuses on secular options, but there are many popular Christian options available in this category, such as BJU Press, Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool, and Abeka.
Grade Levels: Pre-K to 12th Grade
Style: Interactive and student-paced with a mix of animated lessons, printable worksheets, and assessments.
Cost: Monthly subscription model with rates varying by grade level.
Fans say: It's praised for its comprehensive coverage, flexibility, and ease of use. Parents appreciate the automated reporting, which simplifies record-keeping. Some kids find the interactive elements engaging.
Critics say: Some find the content can become monotonous over time. A few users mention it may not be challenging enough for advanced students, and the high screen time is a concern for some parents.
Grade Levels: Grades K-12 and above
Style: Self-paced learning platform with a strong emphasis on math and science. Khan Academy uses clearly explained video lessons and mostly multiple-choice exercises to teach a variety of concepts.
Cost: Completely free.
Fans say: Users praise Khan Academy for its comprehensive video lessons and interactive exercises catering to individual learning paces. There’s also a ton of topics, from college-level AP courses to Social Media Literacy and Personal Finance; plus a new AI tutoring tool called Khanmigo.
Critics say: The platform is not intended as a full curriculum, but rather as a supplement. It is primarily focused on math and science, with limited content in other subjects. Some users find the lack of structured scheduling and formal assessments a downside, as it may be challenging for some students to stay on track and for parents to monitor progress effectively
Grade Levels: Covers elementary (K-5), middle school (6-8), and high school (9-12) levels.
Style: Acellus Academy follows the traditional homeschooling method, offering a structured curriculum akin to what students might experience in a conventional school setting. This includes a mix of lectures, discussions, and hands-on activities aimed at providing a well-rounded education.
Cost: Offered at differently monthly rates depending on if you choose Basic, Enhanced, or Premium, ranging from $249/month-$499/month.
Fans say: Parents appreciate Acellus for its wide range of elective classes and the flexibility to choose different grades for different subjects. It's praised for not overwhelming students with busywork. The self-paced nature of the curriculum is also a significant plus for some.
Critics say: Some drawbacks include a limited selection of language electives and a lack of offline worksheet resources. The cost is a concern for some families, and a few have found the social studies component to be less engaging.
Grade Levels: K-8
Style: Mia Academy’s online homeschool program incorporates video-based lessons and quizzes with rewards designed for motivation. The curriculum is self-paced, and parents have full control to customize both the curriculum and schedule.
Cost: The pricing ranges from $29.99 to $40.00 per month.
Fans say: Parents have noted the program’s engaging nature and its ability to retain the attention of easily distracted children. The flexibility in terms of curriculum and pace customization is highly valued, especially for families looking for a personalized learning experience.
Critics say: Some find the curriculum to be too easy or babyish for the upper end of the intended grade range. There has also been some discussion about the exclusion of “controversial” topics from Miacademy’s science curriculum.
Grade Levels: Designed for children aged 2-8, covering preschool through second grade. Also offers another product, Adventure Academy, for ages 8-13.
Style: The platform employs a variety of educational tools such as games, art activities, puzzles, and audio pages. It aims to cater to diverse learning styles and preferences. The user interface is designed to be child-friendly with engaging graphics and videos.
Cost: Subscription model, with a fee of less than $10 per month. They offer a free trial period to test the service before committing to a subscription.
Fans say: Families who love ABC Mouse say it holds young kids’ attention through bright colors and engaging videos. The site is frequently updated and tracking methods are strong.
Critics say: Some users find the content may become repetitive or less challenging for children as they approach the upper age limit of the platform. Concerns about the platform's effectiveness in comprehensively covering standards in upper elementary have also been raised.
If you want your learner to get instruction from teachers and interactions with peers, an online course or online school might be more what you’re looking for than a self-paced curriculum.
Outschool is used by tons of homeschooling families to take everything under the sun, from cooking to essay writing to video game design to physical fitness. Since Outschool is an open marketplace of classes, quality may vary, but the review system helps you do research. If you’re looking for consistent community, some Prisma parents have shared peer attendance on Outschool was sporadic, so it may not be the best way to make long-term friendships.
Kubrio XP offers innovative courses in topics from robotics to creative writing, and is aimed at the unschooling and worldschooling market. Similarly, Synthesis Teams is popular with Prisma learners for its game-based simulations building critical thinking and collaboration skills.
Online public schools combine the structure of traditional schooling with the flexibility of homeschooling. You can typically find information through your state's Department of Education website or by contacting local school districts on options in your area.
Opting for an online public school can be beneficial for its structured curriculum and access to certified teachers, but it may lack the customization and freedom traditional homeschooling provides. Because online public schools are operating on a limited budget, many families also report next to no individual attention from teachers in these programs.
Online private schools, due to their tuition-based nature, offer more individualized attention. For instance, at Prisma, learners are matched with a certified teacher as a “learning coach” who meets with them 1:1 and provides personalized feedback.
To learn more about Prisma and other available options, check out our guide of the best online private schools.
Unit studies blend multiple subjects together to create real-world, interest-driven learning experiences. Steal the approach our curriculum experts use to create themes with a free downloadable unit study planner.
“The curriculum at Prisma allows learners to learn about their strengths and use their passions in an organic and interdisciplinary way. The kids have the freedom to choose by having differentiated projects, quests, enrichments, and clubs.”
You might be hearing from friends, extended family, and random strangers in the doctor’s office “there’s no way your kid will be able to get into a good college as a homeschooler.” Impolite, yes. True? Let’s figure it out.
“The amount of support and check-ins our learners have at Prisma is unparalleled compared to anywhere else I’ve ever worked.”
Each of the most popular homeschool styles has existed for a long time, and each has diehard evangelizers and fervent critics. From classical to unit studies to unschooling, this guide will help you find the form best suited to your family.
“What most drew me to Prisma was the chance to work with a fully project-based curriculum custom-designed for middle schoolers who are hungry for academic engagement.”
The best online school for your family is a question of priorities: More support or lower tuition costs? Traditional or project-based academics? Asynchronous or lots of interaction? We break it down in this post.
David Waitzer is the Founding Learning Coach for our first cohort in East Asia & Oceania. In this post, he describes how his background teaching and leading for innovative international education companies will help him accelerate the growth of Prisma learners.
Prisma has hundreds of learners across the Western Hemisphere. Along the way, we've gotten requests to launch cohorts in new time zones from families around the world who want to be part of what we’re building. Next up is East Asia & Oceania!
Middle School Curriculum Designer Lizzie uses her diverse experiences: studying Literature at Harvard, leading outdoor adventure expeditions, and teaching high school English, to help Prisma learners find their voices.
The pandemic has made homeschooling easier than ever before with a boom of online options from curriculum, to part-time programs, to full-time schools. But which is best for your family?
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You might have to jump in at first. But eventually, with the right modeling and practice, kids can develop the skills to make thoughtful decisions.
Middle School Curriculum Designer Gabe, an expert in interdisciplinary learning with a PhD from the University of Michigan, explains how he designs themes that blend together STEM and literacy.
One of the most fun parts of being a homeschooling parent is creating fun learning experiences for your kiddos! In this post, we share our favorite at-home activities and online resources.
Our Head of Middle School Curriculum explains how her team blends core subjects and real-world topics to design “hard fun” cycle themes.
One of the reasons our team wanted to develop a new kind of school was because we felt traditional schooling doesn’t put enough emphasis on developing emotionally intelligent kids. But what is emotional intelligence and how do you develop it?
"Carolyn is a miracle worker in math. Piper's attitude towards math has improved so much this year. It's never been her favorite subject but Carolyn's patience and encouragement has made such a positive impact." -Alexia A., Prisma parent
Media literacy is touted as one of the most important “21st century skills” for kids to master, in line with creativity, communication, and grit. Thinking through the amount of time most of us spend interacting with some form of media each day makes a good case for this.
“Lauren is fantastic and has struck a nice balance of connecting with Cooper and keeping him on task. I'm impressed to see real growth in Cooper around self awareness, reflecting on his “glows and grows,” and goal setting.” -Kym J., Prisma parent
“I've seen growth in my kids, and most importantly a solid relationship between them and their coaches. We feel so grateful for these amazing humans that have entered our kids' lives. My kids' words exactly: ‘These teachers actually want to be here. They really care!’ ” -Katie M., Parent in Kimberly’s Cohort
By introducing these concepts at home, you're setting your child up to be more financially responsible and savvy, giving them the tools to navigate an increasingly complex financial world.
“I’m so happy to have an opportunity to call out Javi. As a math educator myself I am really impressed with how he presents math concepts, differentiates for and challenges learners as needed. From a social-emotional perspective he is so kind, patient and invested in the kids as a whole. I am so happy he is Brynn’s math coach.” -Chandra S., Prisma parent
The ability to tolerate frustration is not merely about weathering the storm of the moment, but about instilling the persistence, adaptability, and resilience that set your child up for future success.
“We are eternally grateful for Prisma and the wonderful people who work there - especially the coaches - whose patience and expertise make our kids feel seen and heard and loved while also coaching them to learn knowledge and skills.” -Ashley S., Parent in Angie’s cohort