Many years ago, I was introduced to the well-respected Calvert Homeschool curriculum by Calvert. Even though we have used other programs in our homeschool, I was always curious about it and so I was glad to have the opportunity to use their Calvert Homeschool Online program. The Family Option gave us access to dozens of courses.
The program provides a number of features like interactive lessons, automatic grading, record keeping and monthly payments (if desired.) Subscribers are given access to the complete curriculum, so you can choose one subject or enough courses to fill out a full schedule.
Getting is started easy. Using the Setup tab, I set up an account for each of my students and entered the dates for our current school year. Each student has their own log in name and password, so they each can work independently. (All students accounts are accessible through the Parent Dashboard.) Setting the dates for the school year is an important step because assignments will be spread out over the school year. I left it set at Sept-Oct at the start, so my children’s assignments were all squeezed into 30 days – yikes!
Looking over the many courses offered at each grade level, we decided to have each of our children choose a history/geography course to work through. My 11th grade son chose the high school economics course, my 10th grade son chose a geography course and my 8th grade daughter chose the 8th grade level history class. They were not required to stick with courses offered only in their grade level. We could choose as many classes, in whatever grade level we wanted. I loved that flexibility!
The teachers dashboard gives the parent a place to set things up, make changes and watch their child’s progress. You can set the range of your grading scale, how many attempts students may make at the assignments, even whether quizzes and tests will be open book or not. There are times when the student will type an answer, message or question directed to the parent/teacher and this is also a place you can view those sort of messages. Parents also can create several different reports such as report cards, grade reports, a daily work report.
Once the course and schedule are set up, the student is able to log in and go to the Assigned Work tab along the top. They then click on the course they are assigned and followed the on-screen directions for their daily assignments.
The lesson plans are listed out as units under the subject name. Under each unit, the daily lessons are listed. The lesson plan includes daily lessons, quizzes, projects and tests. Students can easily see their progress and where they are in the program. Clicking on the day’s lesson will take student to the online screen with questions/assignments. The assigned lessons show in white, the completed lessons show in gray. (On the teacher’s dashboard, the unassigned lessons are highlighted in yellow and the blocked lessons show in pink.) If a student attempts but does not complete a lesson too many times, it is blocked until the teacher reviews it.
The format of the Calvert Online lessons, in general, includes some reading, sometimes a video to view and then questions that go along with the material presented. There is a mixture of multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank and paragraph/essay answers. The program grades the multiple choice and fill in the blank questions immediately, but for the others Parents must evaluate. If there are labs, projects, essays and other open-ended responses, you as the teacher must check the assignment through your dashboard. I recommend checking on your students’ progress at the beginning and the end of the week. That way you can keep a good feel for how your child is doing, and give them feedback in a timely manner, allowing them to continue to move forward with their lessons.
To help the parent and student both get familiar with the website, the format of the program, there are downloadable files containing a Teacher and a Student User Guide. This was very helpful and very nice to have on hand. The staff at Calvert is also available via phone call and email. I found their service to be excellent and thorough. They talked me through re-assigning lessons when we were trying to figure out our to set the lesson plans. They offered helpful tips I may need along the way even before I needed them!
The lessons in the Calvert Homeschool Online program are what I would call a Traditional Approach. It’s like having a text book for each subject right at your fingertips, online, at home. A benefit is to have grading and record keeping taken care of for you. It is user friendly so students can work independently. One bonus feature that will be helpful for students who are auditory learners, struggling readers, or with special needs is the you have the choice of having the reading portions read out loud. Love that!
The fact that there are a good variety of projects, it is highly customizable, and the excellent customer service makes Calvert an option you should explore further. Use the free trial period. See if it’s a good fit for your student, and give it a go customer service. One of their representatives called me to help me through the set-up problem. She also walked me through a few things as well, and made sure I understood the program.