There are many Switched on SchoolHouse Curriculum users who do great with the program. I have friends who have used it for years. Families like the Duggars (Of 19 and counting fame) apparently use it with their kids.
I really wanted to like this program. Really I did!
After finishing up Explode the Code Book 5 my boy was reading well and I felt like we were ready for a change. I researched a bit and the lure of independent learning and the ease of a self graded program caused me to choose Switched on Schoolhouse curriculum for Language Arts.
I used their math program years ago with one of my other sons with success so I placed my order and anticipated the easy life ahead. (snicker snicker... I know better than that. Homeschooling requires MY effort. No matter what the curriculum developers say, homeschooling means working with your children)
My little guy's eyes lit up when I told him we would be using a program on the computer. He was so excited.
After about 3 or 4 days with the switched on schoolhouse, he told me what a good mom I was and how much he LOVED this new school.
SOS has a messaging system where a student can message the teacher and he absolutely adored being able to "e-mail" me. But it would not last.
First I decided to skip the writing assignments. My son who is a fantastic reader was just not up to lessons like "write a story about.....".
These petrified him. He'd say with wide eyes:
"I have to write a STORY?!?"
To him a story was a whole book.
Stories like Misty, Encyclopedia Brown, or Snow Dog. I'd try to explain to him that his "story" could be just a few sentences. He was still overwhelmed. He needed assignments like "write 4 sentences about.......".
Remember I'm a big believer in identity directed learning. I also have the benefit of experience. I have an older son who didn't like to write at age 9 either. Now he's a young adult and I'd say he turned out pretty good anyway. I have 10 more years to teach my youngest to write stories… He can tell me stories all day long. I refuse to stress him out now.
The program made it very easy to go through and simply un-assign these types of assignments. No problem I thought. It'll still cover grammar and spelling and we can do some fun writing of our own.
Then it was the spelling. My little guy is a great reader, but not a strong speller. SOS spelling works like this:
I have to say he did enjoy the games.
But when the spelling test came along (2 days later with no more lessons in between) he had no idea of what the words were. I started adding copying the words before taking the test... but there was still not enough practice.
The test is given in an audio format. The system "reads" the word and the student types the word in. It was so frustrating to him that he sometimes couldn't understand the audio voice giving the spelling test.
Spelling was not doing it for him.
So once again the program easily allowed me to un-assign the spelling lists.(I do have to admit, SOS seems to be very adaptable.)
Next I realized that I was going to need to assign some sort of copy-work or handwriting practice. There is no handwriting practice in switched on schoolhouse curriculum. Everything is computer based. Of course no handwriting was fine with my son, but this momma knew that handwriting needed to be there.
After going through Handwriting Without Tears along with the Explode the Code, he had very nice but slow cursive handwriting and he needs to keep working with pencil and paper to gain fluency.
We worked with switched on Schoolhouse for about 5 weeks, changing and adapting before I finally said ok enough, this is just not going to do it.
That is too much adapting and I didn't know what was going on!
He did still adore e-mailing his teacher however. :)
I went back to what I know that I love. I love the idea of copywork and using real books in our learning. And you know what? He did not complain in the least when I told him of the switch.
I want to add that I used Switched on Schoolhouse math program with one of my older sons years ago. I think it was 4th and 5th grade math. It was a perfect fit for him.
The biggest benefit for him was that he knew if his problem was right or wrong immediately. He's a very black and white personality.
"just tell me what I gotta do so I can be done with it"
The program would not let him continue without getting it right. He LOVED that. He is a different personality and for math it worked a charm for him.
For families with many students, or families who do really need that independent learning time to happen each day, Switched on Schoolhouse may work wonderful for you. I have a good friend who used the program for each of her children. It was a good fit for her family.
I basically just wrote an entire page that may talk you out of using Switched on Schoolhouse Curriculum. However, I encourage you to please consider my review, both the good and the bad. Then apply it to YOUR situation.
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