I am honored and excited to introduce to you:
Elizabeth, a homeschooling veteran, who blogs about family, faith, and homeschooling as a large family over at Yes They’re All Ours.
As a veteran homeschooler of 22 years and the mother of ten children (ages 27 to 7), I’ve employed a variety of different educational approaches through the years. As a result, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no one right way to homeschool. Instead, the ideal option will vary based on the needs of the teaching parent, the needs of the children, and the current season of life.
My primary method of choice for many years was the Unit Study. I loved the idea of everyone studying the same subject at the same time, and I valued the togetherness and unity that can result from family unit studies. I also loved the lap packs that we used to make, long before it was popular to do so.
However, unit studies take a lot of time to plan and prepare. They also require a huge investment of Mom’s time and energy each and every school day. Many times I was up late preparing our next unit of study. Eventually I became s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d to the max.
I continued to have babies into my forties, and my husband worked long hours in a high stress job. I squeaked by until my extremely capable oldest daughters grew up and left home — one to attend college and the other to serve with a ministry in another state. That left me relying on boys, who weren’t especially good with housework, babysitting, cooking, or even following through with their school assignments. With six in school, a new baby, and an adventurous toddler, I became totally overwhelmed, exhausted, and burned out. When I began crying every single day, my husband wisely recognized that something needed to change!
It was then that we discovered what is now known as BJU Press DIstance Learning. Previously, my husband had left the curriculum decisions up to me, but at that point he made the decision that we would switch to video instruction to “help me cover the basics.” This change probably saved my life, and definitely preserved my sanity!
What I Love about Distance Learning
Our family has been blessed by the creative, Christ-centered content of the BJU Press Distance Learning program.
The advantages for us are:
1. It eases my workload.
I don’t have to stay up all night preparing unit studies, trying to figure out age-appropriate assignments for every child, and then teaching every single concept to each of my children. Instead, I am freed up to spend more time enjoying my husband and children, keeping my home, and even writing a blog! 😉
2. The classes are comprehensive.
I can rest assured that my children are learning all the basics, and then some, when using BJU Distance Learning. I don’t have to worry about leaving “gaps.”
3. The teachers are knowledgeable, cheerful and creative.
The majority of the BJU Press teachers are energetic, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable about their subject matter. At first, I felt guilty for utilizing these amazing teachers to teach my children, but now I just look at it as hiring tutors to come into my home and help me with my teaching load!
4. The classes are interesting and engaging.
While the video instruction offered by some curriculum providers bores a child to tears, the video instruction offered by BJU press is engaging! The classes are recorded in decorated studios (not classrooms) and except for a few high school classes that were formerly broadcast to Christian schools, the teachers speak directly to the homeschooled child and not to a classroom of students.
In addition to traditional instruction, the classes include virtual field trips, puppets, skits, “visits” from historical characters, “game shows” and interesting visitors. Many times, my kids will pause a class and run grab their brothers and sisters to come watch some interesting segment! (To view a sample class for any grade, click here.)
5. The instruction is Christ-centered.
Every class is taught by Christians and every subject is presented from a thoroughly biblical worldview, without attempting to promote any particular denomination.
6. It enables consistency of instruction.
The fact is, with a large family, there are an infinite number of potential interruptions to the school day! When using a curriculum that relies heavily on Mom, so many things can derail the best laid plans. With video teachers, school can continue uninterrupted even if I’m sick, taking a child to the doctor, unpacking boxes from a move, helping a college student with an essay, or planning a wedding! 😉
7. Students can work independently.
While young children will need lots of oversight and guidance to stay on track, older, self-motivated students are able to work independently and at their own pace. My kids appreciate the ability to work ahead by doing extra lessons so they can participate in a special activity that is scheduled for a school day.
8. Multi-sensory approach increases retention.
With BJU distance learning, a child routinely sees information presented on the screen, listens to the teacher explain a lesson, handles manipulatives or does an experiment, reads a section in the textbook and then completes a worktext. When all of these steps are followed, it helps a student retain information.
9. Thinking skills are encouraged.
While some programs focus on “drill and kill,” BJU focuses on developing thinking skills. This means that kids are not just expected to spit back information, but to analyze and apply it.
Possible Drawbacks to Distance Learning
Different families have different needs, and distance learning will not be the best choice for every family. Here are some of the drawbacks we have discovered.
1. It is expensive.
BJU Distance Learning features outstanding instruction by qualified teachers and high quality, colorful textbooks. Because classes and textbooks are continually being updated, production costs are high. While distance learning is more expensive, it offers a high quality Christian school education at a fraction of the cost.
2. It separates the family.
I do miss the days when everyone learned together around the kitchen table. Video instruction means that each child will need their own learning station, complete with a computer or portable DVD player, and possibly headphones. However, I have grouped some children together for some classes. Also, because family learning is important to me, we have Family Bible and Character Studies together each morning.
3. The school day is long.
The distance learning school day may be quite a bit longer than many are comfortable with, especially if a child watches every class and does every possible assignment. However, parents are encouraged to make adjustments as desired to the workload.
For our family, distance learning is a great way to learn at home!
I’m Elizabeth, and am a very busy mom of 10 children — 6 sons and 4 daughters. My youngest child is 7 and my oldest is 26. I’ve been homeschooling since 1990 and am on the downward slide with just five children and twelve years to go! 😉 I have been happily married since 1983 to my wonderful husband, Alan, whom I have followed all over the states of South Carolina and Georgia these past 28 years! We are currently enjoying the delights of coastal living, while learning to deal with the challenges (sand gnats!). You can find her blogging at Yes They’re All Ours.
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