Why I Recommend Book-Based Homeschooling Compared to Online Learning
Online learning is the new—and quite popular—way to get an education, but is it really better than learning through the use of books and more traditional means of instruction?
My views on the matter may be a bit skewed as both a visual/kinesthetic learner and an individual that grew up with traditional learning my entire life up until my last years of college and being able to learn remotely thanks to having kids at home.
However, hear me out. Online learning also has some benefits too, but for our family, pen-on-paper and books-in-hand learning has been the way to go. If you live in a rural area, like to travel a lot, or have family members with health concerns that require regular doctor visits, I'd recommend it for you too.
No Internet? No Problem.
As someone who moved to the middle of nowhere, we went quite a few months without internet entirely this past year. I was unable to work or do much of anything, especially since my cell service isn't the greatest here either, so there was no hope of using my phone as a mobile hotspot or anything of the sort for the computer.
Thankfully, since we prefer a non-digital curriculum for my oldest, her schooling was not impacted by our move at all. I may have had a huge hit occur to my job and finances, but she was able to start school on time and proceed as usual with no hitches.
Not Affected by Power Outages
Another huge plus is that, due to not relying on electronics whatsoever, she's able to complete her schoolwork on time and on the scheduled days in our lesson plans even in inclement weather.
Living in the South means you'll have quite a few days each year when wind, heavy rain and storms, and tornados come through and take out the powerlines. For us, though, a hands-on, book-based curriculum means my daughter's education will not be impacted by Mother Nature.
Complete Freedom in Regards to Location and Travel
I work from home, so we're usually home; but having her schoolwork in a format that isn't reliant on cell towers, wi-fi, or plugging into a power source means we can literally go anywhere at any time.
Need to visit a family member who needs something unexpectedly? We're there. She can finish that workbook at their kitchen table instead of her home desk.
Wanting to travel for a special event? We totally drove cross-country multiple times, and she was able to do her reading in the car and written work in the hotel room.
The freedom to just toss her daily subjects into a backpack and then pick up and go is by far one of my favorite things about how we choose to homeschool.
Doctor Appointments = Quicker Care, No Absences
I've mentioned my daughter's long-term health issues in another post about why homeschooling has been such a blessing for us, but the importance of this next benefit cannot be overstated.
As a rather sickly kid, I remember just how hard it was to see certain doctors due to the "trying to make an appointment after 3pm" issue. It was also a pain to get checked out, have absences marked down on my record, and maybe or maybe not be able to complete the missed work and keep my grades up.
By homeschooling without doing so digitally, you not only can make it to all these appointments easier than the average school-age student, but you can also bring your work along with you (which is perfect for those doctors who have excessive wait times in their offices). It became just a part of how we did things when my daughter was receiving immunotherapy shots each week (which have a mandatory 30-minute post-shot wait period). We'd grab some Dunkin Donuts on the way, snag the table in the allergy center's waiting room, and work on her schoolwork that was due for the day. Instead of sitting around and wasting any time simply being bored and counting each passing minute, she was able to multi-task, use the boring waiting time in the doctor's office to finish up part of her work, and we'd have more time to simply hang out and enjoy our day afterward.
Once it was time to leave, we'd throw the books in her bag and head out. No need for lugging around electronics, worrying about plugging things in, or any other hassles associated with the need for a computer or other device to get any work done.
You're Less Likely to Get Behind
Other states have varying requirements, but one thing that many are quite strict about is the number of days of instruction required per school year. When you homeschool, unless something incredibly significant occurs and disrupts your everyday life on a huge scale, you really shouldn't have any trouble with meeting your attendance requirements or having any actual absences.
However, due to the above benefits of not having to rely on electronics whatsoever when using a book-based curriculum, this means you'll basically have no excuses whatsoever for getting behind on your child's lessons and scheduled work. Some days may not have the same hourly schedule, but no matter where you go or what you need to do (travel/doctor visits/etc.), you can simply load up the required daily work and still get it finished up before the day is through.
When the time rolls around to submit all of your yearly or semester paperwork, you'll still be completely on schedule and have no trouble showing your respective state that you are fully capable of successfully homeschooling your child by their standards.
Compatible Learning Style? Perfect!
When in school myself, I personally always found it easier to study and to learn with hands-on books and lessons compared to a computer or touch screen. I struggled when my college course became solely online. Something about reading words off a screen didn't really allow them to stick very well. Once I made the insane decision to simply print every single online lesson out and highlight them, read them in a binder in my hands, and take notes, I got back on track and nailed every exam.
Homeschooling a child requires you to learn a lot about their learning style to make sure they can understand the material they're being given and really excel at getting an education. Some kids do wonderfully with online lectures, videos, and on-screen interactions and activities. Some children—mine included—do far better with hands-on learning opportunities, hence how my oldest daughter's lessons are set up for her. It varies amongst kids which type of instruction will work best for them, so this can be a big pro if your child learns better by doing things more hands-on compared to your other options.
Is There Anything Good About Online Homeschooling?
Despite my preferences for the above, online learning does have quite a few benefits despite its inconveniences.
If you're concerned about reducing paper waste, going digital is something that fits great with this type of lifestyle. However, do keep in mind that many homeschooling groups do regular books sales and trades to keep prices affordable as well as recycle curriculum books for the next set of students moving up into a grade to reduce waste associated with books being tossed out or new copies needing to be printed.
Additionally, there are more and more different online homeschooling programs popping up every year. The amount of variety in these programs provides you with many options for finding what best works for your child. (You can easily customize your child's curriculum on your own though when declining a prepackaged book-based curriculum and simply selecting the books for each subject yourself.)
Although it may not be true for all online homeschooling programs, many of these have the added benefit of providing access to real-life, experienced teachers whenever your child may need extra help that you may be unable to provide for them yourself. For those of us parents who are strong in some subjects but practically F-level in others, this can be a huge help for tougher topics that may be difficult to properly teach within the home.
Lastly, this also does not apply to every program nor every state, but some of the online homeschooling programs are considered accredited institutions and are thereby legally cleared to provide graduating students with genuine diplomas that are far more likely to be accepted at colleges and universities compared to parent-signed proofs of graduation and completion. With the struggle that some high school graduates of homeschooling face regarding furthering their education or applying for other jobs or services that require such documentation, this is a massive benefit of being involved in an online homeschooling program.