|Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
|Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp. All rights reserved.
|about the book
|The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Distance Learning for Homeschoolers:
Umbrella/Cover Schools, Cyber Schools, Gifted Education
by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006, 2007
What is "Distance Learning?
"Distance Learning" is an educational option where teachers use
correspondence (letters or e-mail), online or computer-based instruction,
or any other communication technology... to teach students who are not
physically "on site" at an educational facility. Many distance learning
institutions, these days, are "cyber schools" or online academies,
where learning takes place on the computer. Homeschool students may
use single distance learning courses as a supplement to any
homeschool curriculum, or they can enroll as full or part-time students.
If you are not really interested in enrolling in a school... but your child
enjoys learning on the computer -- check out the Computer-Based
Instruction section, where you will find full curriculum, many "a la carte"
choices, and quite a few free online options. Also look thru the
Homeschooling by Subject section where you will find plenty of online
resources in each subject area.
What is an "Umbrella School" or a "Cover School"?
Enrollment as a full-time student in a distance learning "Umbrella" or
"Cover" school (which will approve and oversee a homeschool
program) may be required to meet some state homeschool regulations.
Some distance learning schools are accredited, others are not, but
accreditation is not always needed to comply. If your state requires you
to enroll in a "Cover/Umbrella" school in order to homeschool, then you'll
need to check your state regulations and consult your local homeschool
organizations before deciding on which distance learning program to
use. (see the Know Your Homeschooling Regulations section for
more info.) Some School at Home curriculum providers also have
the option of enrolling in an online academy, to provide families with a
Cover School option.
Seeking "Peace of Mind"?
Even when an Umbrella/Cover school is not required by statute, some
parents are still more comfortable with a third party overseeing their
child's education -- especially for high school level classes -- and will
enroll, full or part-time, in a distance learning institution. Many distance
learning institutions can also issue high school diplomas and will provide
transcripts for college applications.
On the issue of diplomas...
Some distance learning programs issue "accredited" diplomas when a
student graduates from their high school, meaning the diploma will
probably be considered equivalent to a public high school diploma.
Others are not accredited -- their diplomas are from an "unaccredited"
institution, similar to those issued by many private schools. In most
states, homeschool diplomas are also considered to be from an
"unaccredited" private school.
The lure of having an accredited diploma causes many families to
choose distance learning as their homeschool approach. But, thankfully,
colleges are becoming more aware of homeschooling as a valid
educational option, and homeschool-issued diplomas are sufficient for
admission into most colleges (including those famous Ivy League ones ;-)
and for many vocational schools, too. *Do double-check, though if your
child is already planning to apply to a particular school or training
program, and confirm ahead of time, that homeschool diplomas are
What curriculum do they use?
Many distance learning schools will work with families to choose a
curriculum that meets a student's learning style or a family's preferred
homeschooling approach. Others are very inflexible. You will want to
explore several schools to see which best meets your child's needs.
Some Distance Learning schools offer a standards-aligned
curriculum similar to what is used in public and private schools, which is
well-suited to those wishing to create a School-a-Home type of
homeschool. Others have their own curriculum or will work with each
familiy to choose a curriculum and a homeschool approach suitable for
What about special Talented and Gifted (TAG) programs?
Several distance learning institutions offer Gifted Education, Talent
Search programs, Gifted Enrichment, and Advance Placement (AP)
courses to homeschoolers who qualify. Some of these schools require
qualifying standardized test scores for admission, others provide online
placement tests to evaluate a child's abilities. Also, many colleges with
online classes will allow highschool students to take courses in their
areas of talent. See Distance Learning Options for Gifted
Enrichment. Acceleration, and Full-Time Programs for details.
There are also many free and subscription online courses,
modules and curriculum -- you will find them within each school
subject in the Homeschooling by Subject section of the Diner.
|"Natural abilities are like natural plants; they need pruning by study."
-- Sir Francis Bacon
"Whence is thy learning? Hath thy toil o’er books consum’d the midnight oil?
-- John Gay (1685–1732)