Outsourcing your homeschooling takes on a lot of different forms. It may look like a co-op where parents work collectively to offer classes for one another's children. It may look like classes taken in person at a resource center or online. It may look like dual enrollment in high school. It may be recorded courses or extracurricular groups. It may look like a university style approach where students attend school for two or three days a week and work on assignments at home on the other days.
While we used a group-curriculum approach for many years, for the last four we have been truly independent homeschoolers, selecting the curriculum that best matches our family's goals and needs. That doesn't mean that I don't outsource any of our learning, but I do so very strategically. Happily, we live in a time when homeschooling resources are abundantly available - often overwhelmingly so! If you are wondering if you can really homeschool, and when and how to outsource it, this will help you think that through!
When I really can't teach a subject.
When they need something I can't provide at home.
There are also times when I am very capable of teaching a subject, but for whatever reason, my child has difficulty learning from me, but will learn better from someone else. I'm not talking about a situation where my child is simply not obeying me - that is usually a parenting issue that I need to address. I'm talking about particular subjects where my teaching style is just not connecting with my child's need to learn, or a subject where someone else has a dynamic way of presenting the material. And for some students, their special needs require a different approach (although there are some truly wonderful materials out there for special needs learners!).
When I need to lighten my load.
How to outsource learning
Outsource the whole thing.
Outsource the teaching part.
The videos with My Math Assistant mentioned above are one example. We have also taken advantage of the videos available for many of our Memoria Press classes, especially for Latin and Composition and for some of the upper level classical studies courses, such as Greek and Latin epics and plays.
Another source of video-based learning that we have discovered is Compass Classroom, where my daughter took Devotional Biology last year and is taking American History this year. The format is easy to follow and track progress, and the presenters are engaging and knowledgeable. Other sources of video-based teaching include Khan Academy (though you need to be watchful for content that may contradict a biblical worldview) and the Hillsdale College Online Courses
Outsource the discussion part.
In addition to in-person classes with friends (such as our Community Bible Study classes), we have found two excellent sources for this, both considerably less expensive than a whole teacher-led class. One is through Vita Beata, a nonprofit organization that uses parent volunteers to lead online discussion groups using the Memoria Press materials for literature, classical studies, and history.
The other is a new program from Compass Classroom for "Facilitated Courses" in which students will use the video courses as usual, but also participate in an every-other-week class with other students and an instructor to discuss what is being learned, share projects, and also get feedback (but not a grade) on submitted assignments. The cost for that is $15 per month, or $120 per year (ten months). The courses being offered are all four Dave Raymond high school history courses, Devotional Biology, and Visual Latin 1 and 2.
Some things to remember about outsourcing.
First, don't use it as an excuse to tune out of your children's learning. I find this is tempting to do, but I still need to be a big part of it.
Second, don't outsource their spiritual learning completely. I mentioned Community Bible Study above as an in-person class we use for Bible study with their peers. My children also participate in church programs and the Christian leadership organizations American Heritage Girls and Trail Life USA, but the ultimate responsibility for their spiritual growth and development rests with me and my husband.
Finally, remember that homeschool plans are always subject to change! If you start something that is not working, don't wait until the end of the academic year to make a change. Listen to your child and also listen to your own instincts as you curate a homeschool program that meets your child's, and your family's, needs!