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How to Get Started with Homeschool Connections

You’ve heard all the hubbub about Homeschool Connections and decided to take the plunge and sign up. Are you feeling overwhelmed now that it’s time to start creating your child’s schedule? Looking at the hundreds of course offerings in the HSC catalog, you may ask, “How do I know what my child needs for literature, science, or history?” You wonder, “What if he is slow in math? How do I place him in the correct class?” You see the different LIVE and recorded course options and aren’t sure which is best. And while we’re at it, let’s cover tracking grades and issuing a diploma.

While it can initially feel overwhelming, you’ll soon find yourself an expert in all things Homeschool Connections and online classes. This article will provide an introductory overview of Homeschool Connections, answering basic questions to help you get started, and resources to point you in the right direction if you need more help!

What is Homeschool Connections?

Let’s start with the basics: What is Homeschool Connections? Homeschool Connections (HSC) is an online Catholic curriculum provider. This means we provide the nuts ‘n bolts for you to craft your own comprehensive homeschool education for your child by giving you access to hundreds of live and recorded courses and course materials.

This is important to understand, as it means Homeschool Connections is not a school or “program.” There is no one course of study we require students to take. You choose your courses à la carte based on your specific needs. Some families take only one or two courses to supplement their other homeschooling efforts, while others choose HSC for their children’s complete homeschool education. It’s entirely up to you!

How Do I Decide on Courses for My Child?

If you aren’t sure what courses to choose for your child, check out our free “How to Create a Homeschool Scope & Sequence” form, which helps you plot out your child’s courses. The “How-To” form simplifies the process by asking you a series of questions and suggestions. Once complete, you will have a good picture of where your child is and where he or she is going.

Additionally, we provide examples of varying scopes and sequences that focus on various content areas (writing, history, college-bound, etc.). These give you a good place to start. You can easily adjust to your child’s strengths and special interests,

How Do I Know How Many Credits a Course Is Worth?

Homeschool Connections’ course descriptions offer recommendations for how to apportion credits for each class, but ultimately, this is your call, made based on your own state’s requirements in conjunction with the level of effort and time your child is investing in the classes.

We work on a semester system based on two semesters per school year. Most states require 120 hours of work to earn a one-year (two-semester) credit. When calculating credit hours, we take into consideration active class participation as well as independent learning.

In addition to full-semester courses, we also offer partial-semester courses. You can use these to supplement other programs or combine them with other HSC courses to earn full credit.

Should I Sign up for LIVE or Recorded Courses?

Homeschool Connections offers two types of courses, LIVE and Recorded. As you might expect, LIVE courses are offered live. They are interactive, and the student has to be in the online classroom on a given day and time. Instruction and completion of coursework are given in a timeframe along with the rest of the class.

Recorded courses are self-paced, independent learning sessions. Students can watch at their leisure and complete the coursework in their own timeframe.

The question of which you should sign up for depends on your needs. Both LIVE and recorded have pros and cons.

Recorded Pros: Self-paced, economically priced, you can start any time of year, and take any time of day. Answer keys, grading rubrics, and/or instructor access is available for grading. Many courses have auto-grading for Q&A and multiple choice tests. The whole family can learn together with unlimited access to 500+ courses.

Recorded Cons: You need to keep to your own schedule. We recommend keeping a planning and meeting with your student(s) at a regular day/time every week to go over planner and work. Parent handles grading or signs up for Instructor Access, which is an additional fee. The student does not get live interaction with other students.

LIVE Pros: The instructor is available in person each week. LIVE classes tend to be more engaging and interactive. Instructors can be emailed with questions. Grading is handled by the instructor or computer grading. A course schedule is provided.

LIVE Cons: Live classes cost more than those available on recording. Students must be available at the specific day/time the course is being offered. Not every class you need is always offered LIVE each semester.

When choosing between LIVE and recorded, it is best to consider your needs, budget, and your child’s preferences.

What About Assessments? How Do I Know What Level My Child is in for Math, Latin, Writing, etc.?

An assessment can be helpful to properly select classes that depend on cumulative knowledge, like math or Latin. Assessments help “place” your child on the mastery spectrum, ensuring that you are signing them up for a class that is at the appropriate difficulty level.

Homeschool Connections offers assessments for writing, math, and Latin. To get started with a writing assessment, click here. Latin assessments are administered by our Latin instructor, Emily Henry (don’t hesitate to get in touch with HSC to arrange this; Mrs. Henry charges $20 per assessment).

For math, we use a free Glencoe assessment test, or alternately, you can use Saxon’s free online placement test, available here.

How Do I Pick a Textbook?

Required textbooks are listed in the information for a specific course, along with links to where to purchase them. Note that not all courses require textbooks. Many instructors provide free course materials such as PDF files.

If your child does not do well with a particular book (say, Saxon, for example), changing to a course that uses a different textbook is possible. If you are looking for a substitute book, it’s best to read reviews and talk to other parents on the Homeschool Connections Community page or Facebook group.

How Do I Choose a Math Text?

Homeschool Connections offers more than several math curriculum options. To help you determine the best curriculum for your student(s), here is a general breakdown:

1. Saxon is a spiral approach to math where past lessons are continually reinforced
2. Glencoe traditional approach focuses on reinforcing new concepts.
3. Foerster teaches the concepts and techniques in small steps, allowing plenty of practice.
4. Sadlier-Oxford offers a conceptual understanding and skill development with a cohesive grouping of lessons, explicit instruction, and guided and independent practice.
5. Gamified Mathematics: In a Gamified course, students learn through various assignments, including games.

If you need further assistance, email us, and we can connect you with one of our math teachers.

How Do I Track Grades?

The answer to this depends on whether you utilize a LIVE or recorded course. In a LIVE course, the teacher issues a grade (please note, you should record your grades immediately. HSC does not provide record-keeping services, and grades are deleted after six months). In a recorded class, parents issue grades or record grades from automated quizzes online.

Whichever you choose, please note parents have the final say on the grade. For example, a student may receive an 83% from an instructor for history, but that student might do an extra credit project at home for which the parent adjusts the final grade.

Who Does the Grading?

Generally, instructors do grading for LIVE classes. For recorded courses, parents are responsible for grading unless they purchase Instructor Access, which means they pay a stipend for the instructor to grade their child’s work. Please note that not every course has instructor access available. Most recorded courses come with an answer key, grading rubric, or auto-graded quizzes to assist you.

How are Transcripts and Diplomas Issued?

Homeschool Connections is not a school or program; we are a curriculum provider. Consequently, we do not issue transcripts or diplomas. Parents, as the primary educators, issue the transcripts and diplomas. Homeschool Connections does, however, offer free record-keeping forms to help you keep your records and give them a standardized look. It’s not that hard. Really.

But, if you’d like professional guidance creating your transcript, Homeschool Connections partners with Fast Transcripts. Fast Transcripts is a fabulous service that provides professionally done transcripts. It makes the admission process easier by automating certain aspects of transcript creation and making it simple to distribute electronically to over 4,000 colleges and universities. You can read about them here.

Where Do I Go for Help? 

We’re here for you! If you have any questions at all, reach out to us at [email protected], and we will be happy to assist you in getting set up.

But I Need a Simple Structure. I Want Someone to Say, “Take these courses, and you’re set.”

The mission of Homeschool Connections is to put a solid, personalized homeschool curriculum within the reach of every family. Homeschooling is all about personalization because every child is different. There is no one set of courses that is right for every child. We offer sample scope and sequences to get you started, but as the primary educator, you can change that up as you see fit.

Need Input from a Consultant?

If you’d like professional help from a homeschooling consultant, please check out our personalized homeschool coaching page for more information.

Interested in Mentoring for Your Teen?

We also offer a teen accountability program through Tammy Parker’s Pine Meadows Academy. Pine Meadows is a mentorship program that helps your teen with discipline and organization. Check out Pine Meadow’s page here.

More Help

Check out the following resources:

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