3 Important Questions to Answer Before You Enroll Your Homeschooler in an Online Course

In our first years of homeschooling when all of the kids were smaller, it was easy to do all of the homeschooling myself. We read things together. The older kids did a page or two of math or handwriting. And then everyone had rest time in the afternoon. Exhausting, but doable.

But when our older kids reached high school, we began to realize that handling everything in house (especially with six younger kids who also needed attention and instruction from Mama) gets close to impossible!

One piece of good news is that with the pandemic and students of all kinds learning from home, digital and online learning opportunities have exploded like a family of rabbits! But before you enroll your high school student in an online class, here are some important questions you need to answer.

{Note: Since this post is sponsored by Stepmojo, I'll be using their online high school courses as examples.}

Is This Online Class Self-Paced or Synchronous?

Some online classes are self-paced. This means that all of the material - video lessons, audio files, digital assignments - are available so you can move at your own speed. Assignments are usually automatically graded by the learning software.

Self-paced classes offer lots of flexibility because you don't have to meet a particular schedule or complete assignments at a certain speed. But one of the downsides is that students often lack a way to ask questions if they get stuck.

While synchronous (live classes - all students learning at the same time) classes require students to be physically present at a certain time, they offer a lot more opportunity for real-time engagement not only with other students but with the class instructor. By responding to student questions and engaging students in discussion, each class is tailored to the actual learners enrolled in that section of the class.

Stepmojo offers synchronous learning so that students are regularly engaged with the instructor and other students. Not only is this helpful for clarification and explanation, it also builds soft skills - like respectful discussion and group participation - necessary in today's world.

Will This Class Count for High School Credit?

There are lots of different ways to determine if high school learning can be counted for credit on their homeschool transcript. One way is to keep track of hours. About three hours a week over the course of a school year is equivalent to a high school credit in most subjects.

Another way to measure work necessary for high school credit is to complete most or all of a curriculum that is designed for high school learning. Keep in mind that students in traditional schools rarely finish more than 80% of the material in the textbook for each subject!

And finally, courses that prepare students for the AP (Advanced Placement) exam are another way to demonstrate mastery. Depending on the score they achieve on the AP exam, your student may be eligible exempt from certain introductory college classes, or even earn college credit!

Stepmojo offers a selection of AP STEM courses that could help your student prepare for those achievement exams!

Will My Student Stay Focused in an Online Course?

Probably the most important factor in your decision-making when choosing an online curriculum is a knowledge of your own particular student. What is his or her learning style? And how likely is he or she to engage and stay engaged with online learning?

Some students will be able to watch video lectures and complete assignments independently. Other students may have a hard time focusing, or even be prone to wandering into other activities on the computer during time that should be set aside for learning.

If you do have concerns about your student's ability to focus, you may want to pick a location for their digital class time where you can keep an eye on their activity. It may also be more likely that they will stay engaged in a synchronous (live) class where other students and the instructor are looking to them for input and discussion.

Stepmojo classes are designed in a seminar style. Students are responsible for preparation ahead of time that not only helps them to process and internalize information they are learning on their own, but also prompts them to prepare discussion points and questions.

Stepmojo could be the perfect fit for your homeschooled high schooler!


Lynna Sutherland is a homeschool mother of eight always-homeschooled kiddos ranging in age from high school to kindergarten. She loves to encourage parents in the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling and offer creative ways to manage a large family and a multi-age homeschool!

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