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When I was teaching in the local parent partnership program, Calvert Homeschool was considered the cream of the crop when it came to boxed curriculum. They were the best of the best. If unboxing videos had been a thing back then, we definitely would have drooled over watching them unpack all the amazing books, helpful lesson plans, and additional tools.
And though I was intrigued, I never had the chance to dive into this curriculum with my kids. So, when I had the opportunity to review Calvert Homeschool Online, the name recognition caused tons of memories to come flooding back. And I knew this was a review I simply didn’t want to miss.
What Is Calvert Homeschool Online?
An online curriculum, Calvert has individual and family plans available. I received 6-months of access to their family plan, which meant I could enroll up to three of my students. After looking over the available grade levels and courses, I decided to have my high school senior and my fifth grader try this program.
I had my senior take two courses, Economics and Government. My fifth grader, I signed up for a below level language arts course, as he needed to review some basic grammar concepts, and continue working on reading comprehension.
There were plenty of other courses available, those are just the ones I selected. There are courses for students in grades 3-12, and there are also placement tests, so you can see which courses would be a good fit for your students.
Once I got my parent login information, I was able to create student accounts for the two kids I was having try Calvert Homeschool Online. They were both linked to my account, so I could easily switch between them and set everything up from my dashboard.
After creating their accounts, I was able to select which classes I’d like them to take. I also:
- Assigned the courses (picked the start date, end date, and how many days a week assignments should be due)
- Changed settings to activate or deactivate elements of the program
- Set the preferences for tests and quizzes on how much of the previous material they could access, and how much feedback they got
There were a few other options to play around with, but that’s all I did before calling my kids in to get started.
How Did We Use This Program?
I set the kids up to work on the program three days a week. Originally I went with four, but we’re doing more travel these days on deputation, and four days was hard. But, when we were home, I had them do four days a week anyways.
The program automatically assigned due dates based on the number of lessons and how many days they were working. That was nice. You can also make changes to the setup, so if you realize that what you picked originally won’t work, you can update it later.
When the kids logged in, they had their own dashboard. They could pick the theme they wanted, which was fun. My son experimented with it a bit and finally settled on the chess set. My favorite was the sea life one:
From their dashboard, the kids could see what lesson they needed to start. They simply clicked on the arrow next to it, and the lesson opened.
The first page contained objectives and vocabulary (you can see a screenshot of that at the top of this post.)
Then, they moved onto the actual lesson. They read the material, watched any videos, completed any activities, and then moved onto the questions.
The questions were a combination of:
- Multiple choice
- Short answer
The multiple choice and matching were graded automatically. Then, the short answer and essay questions were sent over to me for grading. I could review each answer and indicate the grade:
What Did We Think of the Program?
Content wise, the program was every bit as solid as I was hoping for. It was well presented material, and held my kids’ interest while teaching them.
However, I wasn’t as impressed with the delivery as I hoped. It was too easy to skip the reading and go straight to the questions, as students are asked at each transition page to select between:
“Read the Next Section” and “Work on the Questions.”
My senior didn’t run into as much trouble with this, but my elementary child did. It wasn’t intuitive for him, as he just wanted to get through. And skipping to the questions seems like a great idea until you realize you have no idea what they’re asking about.
There were two other things I didn’t like:
- The questions to grade opened up in a tiny section of the screen, and had to be manually changed each time to make it large enough for me to read.
- When a student submitted an assignment that needed parental grading, it showed them a terrible score, in a large pop-up style box with stars. Those ungraded questions were all counted as zeros, and it made one of my kids pretty upset when it showed they got an F when in reality I just needed to go grade it.
But, here are some things I really appreciated:
- Minimal video (at least in the courses we did) – when you live in the boonies streaming is hard, so the mostly text based lessons and power point style slides were nice
- Most of it was auto-graded, so I didn’t have to worry about it
- It was all planned out – no planning to do on my end
- The academic content was of high quality
I am going to have my daughter continue taking her courses now that the review period is over. She is learning a lot.
I will have my son continue as well, but I need to be more diligent about sitting down next to him to ensure he doesn’t get click happy and end up on the questions or quiz before he’s read the lessons.