Please welcome Courtney Day to the blog. She has found great success with eclectic homeschooling by adding various methods of hybrid homeschooling to her plans over the years. She has given you a nice overview of why and how she’s chosen to farm out some of the teaching to other people. I think you’ll be inspired! ~Cindy
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I have so much respect and awe for parents who homeschool their children without outsourcing. I fully intended to follow along in their footsteps and be the sole educator for my four children through the completion of high school.
I dreamt that we would spend our years reading good books, mastering math concepts with ease, learning Latin together as a family, growing organic gardens through the summer, snuggled with hot cocoa by the fire in the winter reciting poetry, and when spring came round again bluebirds and cardinals would nest outside our windows for us to marvel at the wonder of creation…and my children being angelic as they are would never disturb the precious nestlings with loud bickering.
Real life looks nothing like my fairy tale homeschool dreams. Like so many homeschoolers, I wear several different hats throughout the day. As my children began progressing in grade levels, I struggled keeping up with everything. That’s when I discovered hybrid homeschooling.
What is hybrid homeschooling?
It’s the practice of splitting a student’s time between learning at home, taking classes away from home, and/or online classes. Online classes can include anything from live instruction to classes that are streamed or taught through DVD – basically anything that provides a “substitute teacher” for a particular subject.
We have been hybrid homeschooling for 7 years. Our first step into hybrid education was through a local co-op and now my children attend a cottage school. Hybrid homeschooling can take a lot of different avenues and I am so grateful we have these options.
This year we are adding a couple of online courses for two of my students, too. One of those includes an Algebra 2 course from Memoria Press for my oldest. To lighten my load even further, I’m hosting a small in-home science and electives co-op. This means I will be sharing the teaching load with other parents!
Reasons To Consider Some Homeschooling Help
1. Cottage schools, co-ops, and online classes give me a break.
I am not responsible for teaching, planning, scheduling or grading in most of those classes (which is wonderful.) Additionally, a lot of pressure is relieved when we get to a subject that I can’t teach without a lot of extra effort – or simply don’t want to teach.
Here are a couple of examples:
- My oldest is entering his sixth year of Latin studies. He surpassed my ability in Latin long ago and now requires a master teacher.
- Grading compositions at any level simply does not interest me, which is a little humorous considering I’m a freelance writer. Knowing that someone else is in charge of teaching and grading compositions frees up my time and energy.
Because we have chosen to attend a cottage school, I have an entire day of the school week without children! I am child free from 7:45-3:30 once a week and it is fantastic! Please don’t misunderstand, I love them and they are great. But, there are four of them…and they’re loud…and we have a lot of time together…and I’m an introvert. I’m a better person the rest of the week knowing I have scheduled alone time.
2. These classes offer my children accountability opportunities.
Whether in-person, online, or via video, my children are accountable to another teacher besides me. That’s a great burden off of my plate, but a great chance for my children to learn important lessons in scheduling, organization, and accountability at the same time.
3. In-person classes offer unique opportunities.
Our cottage school, for instance, offers drama, sports, art, writing competitions, science labs, and social opportunities. Depending on the type of group, you can find all kinds of curricular, extra-curricular, and social options that can benefit your children on multiple levels.
Not to mention, the mere fact that my children enjoy classes with friends provides some positive peer pressures to perform well.
Are there cons to hybrid homeschooling?
Of course there are. There are pros and cons to just about anything – especially when we work hard to meet the needs of our particular learners.
- When you hand over the reigns of teaching, you definitely give up some control in your curriculum options.
- You are conceding to someone else’s timeline which takes away some of the homeschool freedom we all love. That doesn’t mean you can’t vacation in February, but it does mean you need to be in contact with teachers and plan accordingly.
- The positive peer pressure I mentioned above could go the other way – even in homeschooling circles.
- Most classes come at a cost.
Hybrid Homeschooling Options
Cottage Schools or Tutorials
These schools often offer core classes like math, composition, foreign language, reading, history, etc., a la carte. They typically meet once or twice a week for teaching and provide “homework” for the rest of the week. You can usually choose to attend all day or only one or two classes that suit your needs. The classes are often taught by professionals or homeschooling parents with a lot of experience in their teaching subject. In many cases, you are free to drop your students off and leave.
Co-ops are generally organized by a group of homeschooling families. They are very eclectic. Some co-ops may offer core classes and electives; some may offer electives only; some may offer only social activities; and some may be very interest-specific. Parents are often encouraged to teach and be present throughout the day.
Online classes are often taught by professionals. You can find specialized online classes for nearly every core subject or elective for all age levels. No Sweat Nature Study LIVE is an example an online class opportunity for elementary and middle school students.
Streaming Courses and DVD’s
Several curriculum companies offer courses for difficult subjects via DVDs or streaming. Sometimes you will need to purchase supplies to go along with the classes (like a textbook or workbook) and other times all of the work is taught from and completed on the computer within the program. These are typically self-paced courses that take the bulk of teaching off your plate, but you can sometimes find that you are still responsible for grading.
In Home Co-op
I taught Algebra 1 last year in my home to my oldest and a friend’s daughter. It went so well that we’ve decided to expand and shift focus. I’ll be hosting a small science, geography, and electives co-op once a week this year. Finding like-minded friends to come alongside you in homeschooling to share the responsibilities is really a gift!
I love our hybrid homeschool! For us it’s the perfect balance of homeschooling and outsourcing. I am not overwhelmed by managing all the work that comes with teaching four different grade levels and we’ve actually found time for a little bit of the fairy tale life I dreamed of.
This has been a guest post written by Courtney Day. She has been homeschooling for 9 years and resides in rural Kentucky with her husband and their four children. She is a freelance writer and speaker with a desire to encourage parents in their homeschooling journey by drawing from her own experiences. Her hobbies include gardening, reading, kickboxing and long distance running. You’ll often find her serving at the local food bank or fundraising for a worthy cause, just look for The Girl in Yellow. Contact Courtney at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of Cindy’s Top Picks for Online or DVD Curriculum