It’s always so hard to get back into the swing of things right after the holidays. Maybe it’s the overconsumption of Christmas cookies. Maybe it’s because I would rather revel in the Christmas cheer than go back to the daily grind.
Fortunately, I had something else to look forward to, so I didn’t feel too bad about the holidays ending. This week, I tried out what it is like to have a Yearly Membership from SchoolhouseTeachers.com which is the curriculum site of the The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Here is my review, if you would like to see.
This site is a treasure trove for homeschoolers – it has over 350 course options over extensive subject matters. It has lessons on the major areas like math, science, and language arts as well as electives and other subjects like foreign languages.
The site also offers a video library, which offers videos to be streamed from Creation.com, Vision Video, RightNow Media, and many more. It provides access to World Book. This is a network library of resource eBooks that is categorized by library, grade, and subject.
SchoolhouseTeachers.com provides materials from pre-school to high school students. It also provides support to parents by providing training videos, resources, and scheduling tools.
The Just for Parents section is also noteworthy because it is a good reminder that homeschooling is supposed to be a family endeavor. The information is not limited to homeschooling-specific topics, but rather also has wisdom to offer on family relationships. The courses are as varied as “Finally Conquer Fractions” to “Making Marriage Last”.
On Our First Impressions
I am homeschooling a five-year old and to some extent a two-year old (he’s too young for formal lessons, but I keep him engaged as much as possible) so our focus is primarily on the subjects available in the Pre-K and K and the 1st grade categories.
The first thing I noticed about the site is how organized it is. You can browse by grade or by subject. You can also look at the Quick Links to see a snapshot of what the site has to offer.
This ease of navigation comes in handy because of the sheer volume of information the site has. I think it is the thing that stands between, “how thorough!” and “this is too much!” as a first impression. There are a lot of lessons crammed in here so having a roadmap that works ensures you don’t miss out on anything.
On the Games
We’re at the tail end of the school year and already prepping for our final portfolio review, so I skipped past the main lessons. But, I did zero in on the activities that can supplement the lessons that we are already doing.
For us, one of the best features of the site is the Everyday Games. Made by Teresa Evans, a veteran teacher from Australia, these games were designed for children to learn. We used the math games and it helped without being too in your face about it. I guess you can liken in to adding grated carrots to your kid’s mac and cheese. It’s good for them without them realizing it.
You can choose a game depending on your goal. For example, we used the math games in our lessons. There were games for skip counting, telling time, addition. Simply go to the section you want and print it out. The instructions suggest laminating the printouts so it can be used again. It’s a thoughtful little suggestion.
According to Teresa, her educational motto is “keep it simple.” This shows in the way the games are constructed, which has instructions easy enough for kids to follow. The games we have used so far are done in the style of board games. Although the games require two or more players, they can be easily modified for a single player. In our case, I had H play against the clock. If she finishes answering before the timer runs out, she wins.
On the Bible Lessons
Another topic that we got to explore were the Bible lessons. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that the choices aren’t just for the topics, but also the method of teaching. You can have the kids watch videos (it licensed Bedbug Bible Gang until July 2019) or print out a story and an accompanying worksheet.
Leading up to Christmas, I used the Birth of the King printables as an activity. I downloaded the teacher pack and was pleasantly surprised at how comprehensive it was. The pack contained the story from the Bible, activity sheets which included coloring pages, a maze, and a word hunt game. Interestingly, this section comes in different languages, including Tagalog, our local language. This really surprised me, since it is not a common language. I will surely revisit this section not just for the Bible lessons, but also for her Tagalog.
One little thing though: I thought I encountered what I thought was a dead link for the lessons under Adventures of Carlos Caterpillar. It turns out that licensing restrictions limit it to members in North America. It’s something to note for those outside the continent. But still, there are so many other lessons available I feel like it didn’t affect my options.
On What I Think
I may have already used the word “comprehensive” in this review, but there is no other word I can think of that can effectively summarize the SchoolhouseTeachers.com experience. Let me use it again. It is comprehensive. Very, very comprehensive.
You can easily plan your whole school year around the site. It makes it a practical choice. Yearly membership provides all the members of the family access to all the online classes available, including videos and references. It eliminates having to pay different subscription fees, which to me, makes it more cost-effective.
Access to the different levels is also very convenient. It’s not just that most homeschooling families usually have children enrolled at different levels, but also that each child usually develops differently in various areas.
For instance, H is more proficient at math, which allows us to teach her more advanced concepts than the ones required in kindergarten. But, her writing skills still need more work, so the Beginning Handwriting in Pre-K and Kindergarten activities are more appropriate for her.
Being able to choose lessons appropriate for different levels from one site made it easier and more expedient. I don’t need to hop from one site to another, searching for the appropriate activities and worksheets to get.
I highly recommend SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Getting the yearly membership is definitely worth the price. The activities are reliable and engaging. The content is also notably well-researched and presented in a clear, concise manner.
But I think in our experience, I especially see its value to new homeschooling families such as ours. One of the challenges I experienced with homeschooling is the amount of work it takes to plan a day.
I had to sort through the available materials, distill the data I found into understandable chunks, and think of how to present it in a fun and informative way. It’s a lot of work and can be quite overwhelming at times.
SchoolhouseTeachers.com basically holds your hand through this process because of the pick-and-choose, step-by-step way it presents the information. To me, this is priceless because it allows me to concentrate more on interacting with my children rather that spending most of my energy in the preparation. i just wish I had this site sooner!