I know that each parent can determine what is right for their own child. My job is to support independent homeschooling, however. When I get questions about alternative education programs, I do not want parents to feel that I am being judgmental. On the other hand, I do try to point out alternatives that retain independence, so you can ensure the successful education of your child.
Online and alternative education classes may be appealing because they are often free. The big problem is that this kind of material is only financially free – there are other costs involved. Online classes with accredited programs often are rigid and inflexible, with strict rules requiring certain things. That can limit your ability to teach your child in the way they learn best. It is important to recognize that while classrooms progress in a plodding, standard speed, children do not learn that way. Kids learn in spurts. In classroom setting (physical or online classrooms) kids may get frustrated when the class goes to fast or bored when the class goes too slow.
If you are feeling tempted by online science materials, consider free materials that are available to independent homeschoolers. There are many colleges that offer online classes in a variety of subjects. MIT is just one example, with their free online classes called “Open CourseWare”
You can also find high quality science lectures in the library. Although not a lab science, the learning is fabulous!
A simple Google search of “online virtual labs” will provide abundant material for every branch of science, with labs tied to many different books. Some online virtual labs are intended for high schools, and others are tied to particular textbooks. There is some amazing free material that anyone can enjoy!
I have recently had a few clients contacting me about alternative education and accredited programs. A few of them have had their children fail online classes due to illness, and are now facing a devastating-yet-official grade point average. One mother paid for an expensive program, and her daughter earned a 1.75 GPA for her first year of high school. Ouch! The appeal is easy to see, but the costs may be hidden until a year later. My advice is to tread carefully, and search for alternative that support your independence as a homeschooler.