As someone who has done a fair amount of travelling before settling down and having a family in Northern Ireland, I think it’s important for my children to learn about both history and geography, and since they often intertwine, I was happy for them to try out Calvert Homeschool Online and see what Calvert Homeschool had to offer in that area, as well as have a peek at the other programs they have available.
We received six months of access to their online Family Plan that gave us access to all of their courses for students from grades 3 – 12 (they also have classes for K-2). They have courses in History & Geography, Language Arts, Math, and Science; you can purchase the whole bundle or just an individual class and there are options for single students or family plans for up to 3 students. In addition, you can go by the month or for a whole year’s access at a time, so there’s plenty of flexibility, depending on your needs.
How We Used Calvert Homeschool
Calvert Homeschool’s courses can be used as either a main curriculum or as a supplement, the choice is yours. I am having my children use their History and Geography course as a main curriculum, and I’m starting to add in a little Spelling as a supplement here and there. With the Family Plan, if I want to, I could have the children move around grade levels and topics to match up with other classes they’re taking to enrich or help along their learning.
To get started – and possibly before, I really urge you to sign up for one of their live webinars where you will see how to set up and use the program. Maybe even attend once before you start and again after a couple of weeks because there’s so much in it. I wish I had attended the webinar sooner rather than later after I’d struggled somewhat. In addition, Calvert Homeschool also has excellent customer service; they have an 877-telephone number you can call, but because we’re overseas, I contacted them via email a couple of times and they always had an answer back to me within a couple of business hours – it’s not often I can say that with consistency.
The initial set-up looks a bit confusing with so many tabs and options, but it’s actually very easy. Set up your students, set up your school year dates, then assign the appropriate class/es to your students and the program will automatically assign each of the lessons to particular dates. I have mine set up so that my children must complete one lesson before moving on to the next. Children can log on and see what they have that day, or in calendar view they can see what’s assigned by the week. There are small assignments each day, and then there are some longer projects that Calvert gives several days to work on before it becomes due. It’s easy to see which assignments are complete, which are upcoming, and which are overdue at a glance.
You also have the ability to reset assignments if needed. I did this for Kallista as the Calvert system was new to her and she didn’t do nearly as well as she should have been doing so I reset all of her assignments from the beginning and gave her some ideas of how to improve her scores; things such as taking her own notes, not rushing through things because I had her set up to only be able to give one answer rather than the option of trying again on incorrect questions, and to remember that she would need to retain the information she’d read for future tests, not just the daily questions and frequent quizzes. In this way, Calvert is set up more like a traditional school, which Kallista isn’t familiar with, but it is a good experience for her and it should help her learning skills over time in other subjects as well, I hope.
History and Geography
The rest of my review will concentrate on the History and Geography class, as that’s what my children are using as their core class. Within this class the following are the main components within the lessons and quizzes:
- Multiple choice questions
- Paragraph and essay-type answers
The program itself auto-corrects the multiple choice answers and then the parent/teacher goes in daily to correct the written answers using the guidelines given for each question on the number of points and what they are expecting to see in the answer. Then Calvert gives the grade based on the particular grading score that you have set (there’s a default that you can change as you see fit for weight given to assignments, quizzes, tests, and projects, etc).
There are several reports that you can access for downloading and/or printing, depending upon your needs. You can choose to show grades by percentage and/or letter grade (you can set the letter grade parameters), and also how you would like the report to look.
What they are learning
Kallista is in grade 4 and she’s learning about world geography and the earth’s surface, a few examples are:
- Seaport cities
- Tropical rainforests
- Mountain countries
- Polar regions
- North America
Tristan is in grade 6 and some of the things on his agenda this year are:
- Cradle of civilization
- Life in the Middle Ages
- South American countries
- Europe (east and west)
- Development of our world
Other things the children are learning
Because Calvert Homeschool’s online program is similar in structure to a traditional school and different than other programs my children have been using, they are learning additional skills in addition to the materials taught directly. They are learning:
- How to take notes to refer to before quizzes and exams
- To slow down and read and really comprehend what they are reading so as to put it into long-term memory, not just regurgitate it immediately
- They are learning the importance of answering questions right the first time instead of falling back on being able to have the chance to redo questions over and over again until mastery is either learned or there aren’t any additional options left (this depends on your personal settings)
- My children are learning to slow down and read things thoroughly rather than just barrel ahead to get things done so that they have the correct answer as often as possible on that first attempt
- They are learning about the cumulative ways that quizzes and exams work. Material must be remembered, not just immediately forgotten about never to be encountered again.
It took us all a little while to become accustomed to the layout and ways of using Calvert Homeschool Online, but once we adjusted then things really started to roll. Everything is set out for the students in the History And Geography courses (for science you need additional supplies for experiments), and the pressure is off me to set up the daily assignments. The children need to learn their own time management for projects and know that part will not just be done in a quick 10 minutes. Both children are finding it challenging, but not outside of their reach.
I need to stay on top of things by going in daily to correct any answers that need to be done, and this then also gives me the opportunity to keep up with what the kids are learning and to go over their work with them when a question is not correct.
My children would like to continue using this program, and I would also like them to continue as well; particularly over the winter months when we tend to be indoors more they’ll be doing a more concentrated study schedule.
If you’re looking for an online homeschool program that will serve as a full curriculum or help fill in the bald spots, then check this program out (there’s a one-month free trial available so you can take it for a test-drive).
Click here to read 45 more reviews about Calvert Homeschool by the Homeschool Review Crew. If you’d like to know more or would like to follow Calvert Homeschool, you can connect with them through their website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.