Education begins with kindergarten when a child is about 5 or 6 years old which means that they are just getting started with learning about textbooks and what School is supposed to be. For this reason, just about every platform recommends a Print program for this year so that students have the hands-on and visual experience in learning to write, read and work math problems. After that, the decision becomes whether to switch to an online portal environment for assignments and learning or to stick with print for a little longer. It is not uncommon for 1st and 2nd graders to stay on print programs with the school and then start having the discussion around the 3rd grade year when the format of information changes slightly as well.
The primary factor that will affect this decision is based on the student’s comfort level and whether they prefer holding onto a book and having that non-electronic access or not. The print and online homeschool programs are usually the exact same material just in different formats so parents do not have to be concerned that their student will be missing information if they stick to print. Homeschooling should be designed to give the child their best opportunity to succeed and if they learn easier with a book in their hand then this should be an option with the enrollment platform you selected. When deciding which platform to work with, check their print options to see how high they allow this (i.e. high school must be online due to full-time teacher instruction through the school) and if there are any differences so those can be factored in the decision.
Another consideration is the family’s access and approach to electronic devices and Internet connection. While the majority of households have some form of e-device, a smart phone is not the ideal tool to use for studying and completing assignments because it is too small and not user-friendly for typing essays and reports. Parents may also want to wait to expose their children to tablets and computers until an older age such as middle school which is when some platforms require a transition to the online homeschool programs.
The best fact about homeschooling is that it allows this type of flexibility and personal decision-making so that each family can do what is best for their situation and aligns with their belief system. Textbooks are easy for kids to store in a central location designated for school, can be accessed at any time of day and used on the couch or at the kitchen table just as easily as a tablet or laptop. There is also no concern about breakage if the book is dropped or placed on a wet counter which is why younger children may be more suited for print than online.
Homeschooling is sometimes used as a solution for a temporary situation such as an illness or a short-term relocation, in which case, parents want their child to stay aligned with the primary approach that the local schools use. Private and a few of the top public schools in an area might use tablets as the main education and study tool but most are still on print programs so for consistency, the family will use textbooks while homeschooling so the student is used to this when they make the transition. Since this is determined based on the area and future school they will attend, it is a good idea to do some research to see what that school uses (print vs online) and then adjust accordingly. This makes the move from learning at home to attending a classroom a little easier for the student since it is one less thing they have to get used to.
Hard textbooks can be written in or they can be left blank depending on the school’s requirement for submitting completed work. Some may dictate that students have to put their answers in the book or that they can write their answers in notebooks and have that graded. If this is an option, then books can be reused for more than one child which can help save on expense when a family is first starting out with the homeschool approach and deciding if that is what they want to do. Parents will need to determine if this is enough of a reason to stick with print but may be combined with some of the other options above as a total solution.
As with every aspect of homeschooling, the customization of the child’s education is left to the family to determine print vs online, platform enrollment vs co-op, parent vs professional teacher instruction, etc. The important thing is that the variety of options and information are reviewed and decisions are made based on what is best for the student so they can succeed in their pursuit of education. Parents should consider their reasons, short term or long-term involvement and what the enrollment platform has to offer in the future not just the present grade.