Online Courses

Our oldest son has taken some courses online over the past few years and it has been a great benefit to him–and to me.


By his third year of Latin study, I could no longer keep up with him. It had gotten to the point that I would check his work with the teacher manual, but I couldn’t tell him why he missed anything. I would have to give him the teacher manual and ask him to figure it out! With three younger children to teach, this homeschool mama had no time to ‘learn Latin in a snap’. What a blessing it was the find Latin in the Christian Trivium!

The students and teacher meet once a week in a chat room to go over the new material and to cover any questions. Some parts of the class are done through text messaging on Windows Live Messenger, and other parts are done with a microphone.

This class is challenging: each of the four year-long courses are worth one year of High School language credit. But it is one of his favorite subjects, and I’m glad that my limitations did not need to become his.


Another online course we are enjoying is Write Guide. I feel perfectly capable to teach my son writing skills, and I have a great curriculum in Tapestry of Grace. My problem here is that many times, I didn’t find time to grade my son’s written work in a timely fashion. He would be left with nothing to work on because I hadn’t gotten to it.

Again, for me this is logistical. I have several young children who can’t do much, if any, of their schoolwork alone. I wanted the precious hours which I have set aside to teach my oldest son to be spent on discussion, worldview, Bible, philosophy and history. If things got too busy, writing was often one of the first things to go. Practically speaking, he wrote several first or even second drafts, but didn’t always get his papers to final draft stage.

The great thing about Write Guide is that I can still use my own curriculum and choose my son’s topics, but someone else will implement it! I sat down at the beginning of the semester and wrote out what kinds of assignments I wanted him to have and possible topics to choose from. This semester he focused on learning to write a 5 paragraph essay, a compare/contrast paper, writing newspaper articles and completing a long research paper. All topics, aside from the newspaper writing, were taken from our studies.

Each week I sent a note to the teacher, letting her know what my son was to focus on that week, and then she gave him the assignments. She checked all his work and kept him on task. He developed practical skills like formatting bibliography pages as well as stylistic skills in crafting his words. Best of all, because I was paying for this course, I was highly motivated to make sure that he wrote every single day.


A couple years ago my son took an excellent online electronics class from Quick Study Labs. The students purchase an electronic snap kit from Radio Shack, and the teacher assigns them 5 days worth of homework and a quiz or test to complete at their leisure over the course of the week. The teacher is available to answer questions via phone call or email, if necessary. There are two levels of classes available for children ages 8 to 12 or 12 and up.

My younger boys loved watching their brother do the fun electronic experiments and they can hardly wait until they are old enough to take this class, as well. I know my oldest hopes to take another class in the future.

Apologia Science

All these online courses have been enjoyable for him. He has become so comfortable with them that he chose to do his Apologia General Science class this year on the computer. The entire course is available on CD-Rom and interfaces like a website. He can click a button to hear a word pronounced or to see a video clip. He steps away from the computer to conduct experiments, then returns to the computer to keep a log of what he used, what he did, what he saw, and what he learned.

There is a separate CD-Rom for the teacher with study guides, tests and answer keys. This course is also written directly to the student, so he is able to do the course on his own, without needing mom…as long as he has all his science supplies at hand (see my post on Gathering Supplies in Advance for help in that area!)

*Since this post was originally written, our son has also taken Apologia online classes through the Virtual Homeschool Group, as well as history and literature classes with Dr. Jim Stobaugh at For Such a Time As This.  We recommend both heartily!

I’m so grateful for my son’s online classes. He is able to continue growing and learning, even in areas where I am not strong. We have accountability in courses where we need it. He has enjoyed interacting with other kids in a virtual classroom, and it has been beneficial him to turn in work to an impartial adult for a letter grade. I know his teachers have pushed him to excel beyond what he thought he was capable of. I am freed up to teach my younger children much of the day, and the time I spend with my oldest son can be focused on those areas where interaction with me is most vital.

Have you used any online courses which you found beneficial? I’d love to hear about them!


  1. Molly,

    Your info is so helpful! Thanks for sharing.

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