Prisma is the world’s most engaging virtual school that combines a fun, real-world curriculum with powerful mentorship from experienced coaches and a supportive peer community
While it might feel like drinking from a fire hose, the good news is: once you understand your goals and your child’s needs, the choice of how to homeschool becomes much simpler.
In order to narrow down the seemingly infinite possibilities, we’ve got guidelines to get you started: first, general characteristics of homeschool curricula that we believe help children grow into lifelong learners, regardless of your specific circumstances; second, questions to help your family think through the various approaches to homeschooling and how they might align with your needs, goals and expectations.
The ultimate blank canvas, homeschool lets you paint your child’s education any way you wish. Look for these characteristics in any potential homeschool curriculum review and you’ll be taking a step towards ensuring your child can thrive.
Without the constraints of a traditional school schedule, homeschooling offers an unparalleled opportunity to let your child pursue their passions as far as they want to take them (and discover new ones along the way). If kids are excited about learning, they really do their best work, so look for a curriculum that allows kids to go in the direction they choose, with plenty of time for deep dives. This works well in a “unit studies” approach, in which kids focus on a single topic/project for a given length of time (like we do with our six-week, thematic, project-based cycles at Prisma).
While traditional school (whether public or private school) is all about keeping kids together according to grade level, homeschooling allows your child to move at their own pace. Don’t assume a fifth grader needs a fifth grade math curriculum. Maybe they need to get a true understanding of fourth grade materials before they continue; or maybe they can do sixth and seventh grade math in a single school year. Homeschool families should start with an assessment (standardized testing options available may depend on your state) and be sure that whatever program you choose will allow your child to learn where they are, whenever they get there.
We all have preferences when it comes to learning. Some kids love doing math with pen and paper. Others light up when they get an adaptive math app in their hands. Some kids excel when they use manipulatives. You may have three different kids who each do better with a different curriculum. Trial and error will be a big part in getting it right.
At Prisma, we believe that the best curriculum emphasizes core skills rather than specific content. A great social studies curriculum shows kids how to apply the lessons of history to today, how to evaluate primary sources and how to research the questions that get them interested. A great language arts curriculum will teach kids how to think critically about the books they read, while developing their own sense of taste as a reader. A great science curriculum will teach the scientific method and instill an appreciation for evidence-based practices. With those core skills, they’ll be able to dive into whatever excites them most, and the lessons will last longer than if they were simply memorizing facts and figures.
You can learn how to calculate profit and loss in a textbook, but you also can do it by building your own business — and pick up life skills along the way. We believe that a curriculum that enables kids to learn in a real-world way is by far more engaging. A project-based curriculum that applies learning to solving real world problems helps kids see the relevance of what they’re learning, enabling them to internalize it.
Once you have the foundations, you’ll want to think about the nuts and bolts of your experience: What will it look like to homeschool on a day-to-day basis? These questions will help you vet your top picks:
If you come from a traditional school background, homeschooling is such a major life change it can be hard to imagine. Sometimes, the only way to figure out what’s best, is to jump in, try it, and then make changes based on what you learn.
We’re fans of online learning, but it depends how it’s done. Here’s some pros and cons of different kinds of online homeschooling resources to consider, plus links to a variety of options.
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?
Prisma High School’s Launchpad Program will prepare learners to tackle their next phase, be it college, training, or an exciting career. Trevor Baker, our LaunchPad program designer, describes how he sets learners up for success.
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.