(I had to wait to post this until I got my kid registered, lest y’all fill up the classes he needed.)
Those who followed me over here know I have this thing for Kolbe Academy. I wrote my own curricula the first few years of homeschooling, but by the time the eldest were in 4th & 6th grade, I needed to outsource a bit of the work. Of the major Catholic curriculum providers, all of which are excellent, this was the one that best fit what we needed. How I picked:
- The overall syllabus was closest to what the spouse & I would have put together on our own.
- I looked into the high school program, and found it was pretty close to perfect for us. I knew I wanted serious structure for high school, so I went with a program that I thought I’d probably continue with the whole way through.
- The amount of handholding was perfect: What I needed were day-by-day course plans, and that’s what they do very, very well.
- The amount of flexibility (100%) was also the amount I needed.
Over the past several years, my eldest two have done approximately 60% – 80% of their classwork per the Kolbe plans, and we’ve substituted other stuff here and there as appropriate. (Two of my favorite alternate sources – textbooks from Seton and Catholic Heritage Curricula.)
All this to say: We’ve never done the online courses before, so maybe they’ll be terrible. (I doubt it, or I wouldn’t post this.) But when I got to planning the boy’s 9th grade, it came to my attention that me schooling him 100% was going to be a lot of work. Which work I was willing to do.
After having made the decision that I’d suck it up, clear my calendar, and be the virtuous homeschooling mother he needed, the online courses happened to jump back in front of my face again. Since he’s a pro at all this internet connectivity stuff, I knew that managing the “online” portion would be no trouble for him, and way more efficient for our family than me carting him all over three counties to various highschool-a-la-carte programs available in our region. (When the boy learns to drive, I’ll reassess.) The pricing is similar or a little less expensive than if I’d farmed him out to local instructors.
So that’s the story.
I was happy to see that the summer program offers, in addition to some fun stuff, courses geared towards 9th-grade-readiness. Between this morning’s evaluation of his literature essay rough draft (“Looks like a great start for a submission to Dr. Boli, but I need something a little more academic for your portfolio, please? If you ever mean to play another video game again in your life? Yes? Child whom I love??) and my recollection of the difficulty of being thrown into a completely different school system with no tutorials on how to “do school” in the new system, I was very glad for the warm-up courses.
So we’re doing that, and then come fall the boy is registered for the online courses in everything but foreign language and some electives. Which frees me to be just the homework assistant, which role is about right for me at this time. We’ll see. If my life sounds sorta like your life, you might check it out and see what you think.*
*My only caveat is that Kolbe’s courses are rigorous. One advantage of Kolbe Off-Line is that you the parent can make substitutions per your child’s ability. If you don’t want to read the Illiad in 9th grade, you can read something else. If you need fewer papers and more math problem practice, you can do that. In contrast, the online courses work like a regular classroom-class, in which you are expected to actually do the work assigned, when it’s assigned and how it’s assigned. So I advise you to read the course descriptions and think about your student’s ability to handle the course load before you commit. (The courses happen to suit my boy quite well, so not a problem for us.)
**I like St. Maximilian Kolbe the saint, too. Because who wouldn’t? Except the Nazis.
Random other thing: I was thrilled when Kolbe said they’d come to the Midlands Homeschool Convention. Kolbe enrolls a lot of non-Catholic families, it turns out, so an ecumenical conference is of interest. This is handy for me, because in my talk on successful homeschooling despite a decidedly distractible streak, which I am slated to give at said convention, exactly these kinds of solutions are among those I propose. I’ll also be talking about the unschooling option, which for a certain contingent is a viable solution to the parental-discipline problem. But not for everyone. Lots of ways to handle that problem.
Calendar image courtesy of Kolbe Academy.